Author Topic: Enid, The  (Read 4338 times)

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BillBoh1971

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Enid, The
« on: April 22, 2005, 10:02:13 PM »

This is the discussion topic for all things Enid, The (UK-England)

Artist Web Site:
 - http://www.theenid.com

Artist Page on ProGGnosis:
 - http://www.proggnosis.com/MUSIC_DBArtist.asp?txtArtistID=659

Simply reply to this post to start a discussion of this artist and their music - share your opinions and post news and tour info and upcoming events.
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UK symphonic prog band with Robert John Godfrey. Not to be confused with the German band with the same name. :winkle:

« Last Edit: December 06, 2005, 10:53:48 PM by DBSilver »

Davegen

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2005, 05:01:57 PM »
I love this band!  Just so eccentric and different! I first saw them at Reading Rock Festival in the early 80s and saw them a number of times after. I thought they'd finished in the 90s when they did their Final Noise tour but just recently found a newer album called White Goddess which is just wonderful!

Recommended if you like symphonic instrumental classically inspired music!

Cheers, David

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2005, 06:06:06 PM »
Indeed, the album "In the Region of the Summer Stars" is something like a classic. I got the vinyl as a present from a guy who did not understand it. He only listened to American country and folk and related music. Lucky me .
Long ago, set into rhyme - Ours the right - Our reason to be here.

Davegen

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2005, 06:04:20 PM »
Region is a fantastic album, one of my favourite Enid albums. There's some really beautiful music on there. If you like Region, you'll also like White Goddess.
Cheers, David

Offline Ganymedes

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2005, 06:09:59 PM »
Thanks ! I have to check that  :rock: .
Long ago, set into rhyme - Ours the right - Our reason to be here.

Offline Melo the Prog Goddess

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2005, 03:13:12 PM »
The music press once described them as "Britain's best kept secret" .

Radio One dubbed them "The biggest cult band in Europe". Not because they were, but because the main radio station in the UK assumed they must be! Record companies feared them; Glastonbury banned them. The band was even investigated by MI5. Everybody in the UK has heard of The Enid; and the amount of misinformation which surrounds them is staggering. They've been called "fascists" (by people who had been told of, but obviously had never actually experienced at first hand, their sacrilegious on-stage renditions of "Land of Hope and Glory"), "leftists" (because of RJG's vociferous insistence that "all people are interdependent whether they know it or not and that individuality has no fundamental meaning"), and "anarchists" (some truth in that). Many people assumed that they were some sort of insane punk band. That particular assumption could scarcely have been further from the mark. In fact they are probably the most enigmatic and intellectually challenging of any band to have emerged in the UK.

IN THE BEGINNING

The Enid were formed in 1974 by keyboard player Robert John Godfrey. A possible career as a concert pianist had been thrown out of the window in the late sixties in favour of London's rapidly flowering hippie music scene. He had stopped hanging about the Royal Festival Hall and started hanging about the Roundhouse, where he met and joined the young Barclay James Harvest, living and working with them over a three-year period in a farmhouse on the Yorkshire Moors. These three years saw the release of the debut BJH album and the follow-up, "Once Again". It was Godfrey who, at the head of (believe it or not) the Barclay James Harvest Symphony Orchestra, was responsible for co-writing and developing most of their large-scale pieces - When the World was Woken, Dark Now My Sky, Mockingbird etc.

Godfrey left the band in 1971, already looking for a more custom-made vehicle for his own rapidly crystallising musical ideas. The following year he recorded a solo album, The Fall of Hyperion, for Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label. Long-deleted now, this album was really the first flexing of Godfrey's own musical muscles, and formed something of a blueprint for his approach to future projects.

From the outset The Enid always promised to be different. The spiritual home of the band was a weird experimental school for gifted but problematical children, which Godfrey and his fellow founder-members, guitarists Stephen Stewart and Francis Lickerish, had attended. Other pupils included Alexis Korner, Tom Robinson. The school, Finchden Manor, fell apart in 1973 and over the next few years various casualties crawled from the wreckage to join the already-established Godfrey. The result was The Enid.

Given the climate of the times they should never have lasted. At a time when punk rock was exploding all around them, The Enid were writing and performing large-scale, wholly instrumental pieces which took as their inspiration myth and fantasy, and which eschewed the simplicity and cynicism of punk in favour of a broad, almost orchestral dynamic range and a rich canvas of emotions and atmospheres. Yet such was the power of their live performances and recorded work that they rapidly gained a large, fanatically dedicated following that have stayed with them throughout their career and that took in the most unlikely bedfellows - everyone from hippies to bikers to - you guessed it - punks.

THE FIRST RECORDINGS

The Enid signed first to BUK records, a tiny label which was then a part of EMI, and in 1976 released their first album, "In the Region of the Summer Stars". Based on the Tarot sequence and on the writings of Charles Williams (yes - shock, horror! a concept album!), it made no bones about where The Enid were at. The Epic Emotional Chariot Ride. Comparisons were unhelpful. Progressive rock it wasn't, although in many ways it was what prog rock should have been. But the energy was more akin to punk, and the drama was pure Hollywood.

The second album, Aerie Faerie Nonsense, released in 1978, went yet further down the same road. It told the story of Roland, the young knight aspirant questing his way across the world. The tale was told with pathos and humour; as Godfrey says "we had to take the piss out of ourselves a bit to get the music across".

On the strength of these albums and their live reputation - Sounds readers had voted them "The band most likely to succeed" - The Enid were able to swing a major record deal. They signed to Pye Records - one of the most expensive signings the company had ever made. Money was lavished on the band. They were even provided with their own studio in which to record their 1979 album, Touch Me. This album marked the onset of what one reviewer called their "Electro-Edwardian" phase - a lively, uplifting album with a surprisingly hard edge. The band - now a seven-piece - were regularly playing several-thousand seater venues such as the Hammersmith Odeon, and major success seemed just around the corner.

DISASTER STRIKES

What was really lurking around the corner, though, was a near-disastrous setback. What Godfrey and his fellow musicians hadn't known was that Pye was in trouble. Lew Grade had just made the mega-flop movie Raise the Titanic, and his whole business empire was sinking majestically beneath the waves. Staff were deserting in their droves and The Enid were stuck in a top-notch deal with an essentially rudderless label. Panic was setting in at Pye, who suddenly didn't know what to do with their newest, costliest singing, and this led to the hasty release of a spate of singles, among them The Enid's classic Dambusters' March/Land of Hope and Glory showstopper. Rushed into the shops and not properly promoted, none of the singles charted. It was a sad waste of a lot of good music.

The same fate awaited the band's second and last album for Pye, Six Pieces. The album, released in 1980, contained a series of cameos of the then band members; quirky, yet often incisive portraits. According to Godfrey, it is one of The Enid's most personal albums, recorded in the knowledge that their relationship with Pye was all but finished and that the fruits of their labours would receive little or no promotion. Paradoxically, this fact seems to have given the album a curious sense of freedom. The pieces run riot with parody and a quirky energy which almost touches on jazz-rock in places.

THE BREAK WITH THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

Six Pieces marks the end of what Robert John Godfrey has called "the first phase in the life of The Enid". It almost marked the end of The Enid. Francis Lickerish and keyboard player Willie Gilmour left the band. Drummer Chris North and bassist Martin Russell followed some time afterwards. Godfrey and Stewart settled down in a Suffolk farmhouse to become proprietors of The Lodge recording studio, working largely in the pop field. They recorded such acts as Mari Wilson and Propaganda, and both recorded and performed as the (uncredited) backing band on Kim Wilde's first album.

But The Enid proved to have a life of its own. Back in 1979 Pye had recorded The Enid playing live at the Hammersmith Odeon, intending to release the recording, along with a compilation of tracks from previous albums, as "Rhapsody in Rock". It was never released, but Tommy Vance had acquired the live material and in 1982 he played Fand, a twenty-minute piece originally recorded on Aerie Faerie Nonsense, on Radio One's Friday Rock Show. Vance was a fan. He said, on air, "Robert John Godfrey is to my mind one of the greatest composers this country has ever had..."

A NEW CHAPTER

Suddenly Godfrey and Stewart were inundated with requests for more. The following was still out there, and growing. Godfrey and Stewart closed their studio and recorded what was to be their most successful album to date, Something Wicked This Way Comes. A 156-date British tour in 1983 confirmed it - The Enid, now essentially a duo, were back.

Something Wicked This Way Comes was a radical departure from previous Enid albums. For the first time it featured vocals. It took as its theme the prospect of nuclear war - The Enid's first foray into contemporary politics. But so typical of Godfrey's approach, he avoided contributing to the arguments of justification and instead asked his audience the allegorical question: "If the holocaust comes will it be the burning fires of Hell here to punish us all for our wickedness or will be a the purifying fire of the last judgement sweeping everything clean and anew?" It was also the first time The Enid had operated without the backing of a record label. The album came out on their own "Enid" label. A band which had, on the face of it, seemed the very antithesis of punk had now established its radical credentials indelibly. The most "indie" of the "indie bands", The Enid took direct control of all aspects of their career, from recording to mastering, artwork to distribution.

There was still a "long road back" for The Enid. Much of 1983 was spent fighting to re-acquire the rights to their deleted back catalogue. They released the 1979 live recordings as the two-volume "Live at Hammersmith" set, no less potent for being four years overdue, and re-released the two Pye albums on the Enid label. EMI, who owned BUK, proved more difficult.

Godfrey, never a man to let a small thing like EMI Records stand in his way, applied the Gordian Knot principle - "I went ahead and did it anyway." Aerie Faerie Nonsense was re-mixed and issued independently at the end of 1983 (behind the thin camouflage of changing the titles of the pieces), and In the Region of the Summer Stars, much of it re-recorded and again with titles changed, followed in 1984.

THE STAND

Godfrey and Stewart's approach to the problems presented by the music business was never anything if not imaginative. Now, to consolidate their independence, they turned to their fans. Enid fans had always been ultra-loyal and, inspired by Godfrey's somewhat Messianic propaganda, The Stand was formed, with the aim of supporting and publicising The Enid and other selected acts. They became, in effect, the financial patrons of, and the promotional wing of, The Enid. It was this, combined with the nuclear thing, that attracted the interest of MI5, who, says Godfrey "were expecting to find some kind of private army".

Godfrey and Stewart gave the Stand membership unprecedented access to the band, and their own record label, which would feature "specialist" limited-edition Enid albums and recordings by other selected artists. Over the next few years five projects were realised via the Stand label. Stand 1 was a live recording of The Enid performing at Manchester's tiny Band-on-the-Wall Club, featuring the best of old and new Enid material, and their classic encore "Wild Thing"; Stand 2 (now very rare) was a fascinating collection of old, by now unavailable singles, out-takes from earlier albums, pieces from Godfrey's now-distant Fall of Hyperion and other curios and rarities.

The first "outsider" to feature was Glen Baker, (who sadly has subsequently died), a guitarist and composer who released the intricate, delightful Brief Encounter album via The Stand. A year or so later an album simply entitled The Music of William Arkle appeared. Arkle was a painter, philosopher and composer. One of his pictures forms the cover to the re-released In the Region of the Summer Stars album. It fell to Robert John Godfrey to arrange and perform his haunting, ambient soundscapes. The final Stand album was another Enid offering - a special edition collection entitled Liverpool, and intended originally for distribution at a single charity gig in that city. This is the only studio album to feature The Enid's classic version of Elgar's Nimrod.

Operating alongside The Stand, the Enid label continued to release contemporary Enid albums for international distribution. The band spent the remainder of 1984 recording The Spell, their sixth studio album, and, due to the demands of the music, a double album playing at 45 rpm. The Spell, released in 1985, and the first Enid album to appear on CD, is a complex and quite entrancing musical allegory based on seasons and cycles - the seasons of the year, the life and death of man, the life cycle of the cosmos. It was followed by a re-recorded, extended version of the mega-epic Fand. 1986 saw the bulk of the back catalogue re-issued on CD, and the ushering in of what might be described as "the end of the beginning" for The Enid. It also saw the release of what looked to be the last Enid studio album as such. This was Salome, a startling musical interpretation of the John the Baptist story which managed to, at one stroke, "offend both feminists and the God squad". The album was The Enid's most challenging to date; all dense rhythm and sexual angst. It lent itself brilliantly to radical live interpretation, and was performed at the end of the year as a piece of contemporary dance/drama.

The Enid were beginning to outgrow their "rock band" roots and to become an increasingly diverse, umbrella entity for a range of projects. This was a mixed blessing, for while the duo's new-found freedom to explore different areas of work undoubtedly fuelled their creativity, it also led to the break-up, or perhaps drifting apart, of the band.

Stephen Stewart was to concentrate more and more on his work in the studio, recording acts such as Katrina and the Waves, New Model Army and The Specials' Terry Hall. Meanwhile, Robert John Godfrey was working on his solo Reverberations album for Matthew Manning's Cloud Nine Music. Reverberations is surely one of Godfrey's finest compositions - a brooding, melancholy, infinitely graceful piece infused with an almost East-European air of declining empires and lost grandeur (now included on the re-issued Seed and the Sower - see below). The two of them came together again to write and record Joined by the Heart - a unique part of the Enid portfolio. Joined by the Heart is nothing if not demanding. It was an attempt to delve into the soul of Enid music - a raw look at the very source of their creativity. Each takes one side of the album to express himself to the hilt - Stephen Stewart's side is intense, insistent subterranean; Robert John Godfrey's side then breaks out in an ethereal, airborne release.

The annual Hammersmith Odeon concert reflected The Enid's new-found diversity, with a wide and unexpected range of musicians, Tai Chi performers and students of the London School of Contemporary Dance coming together to produce something that was about as far from the traditional idea of an Enid show as it was possible to get. It was a brave and controversial experiment, but Enid fans had long ago learned to expect the unexpected.

THE END?

By 1988 the changes of the last couple of years had worked right through the Enid organisation to their logical conclusion. Neither Godfrey nor Stewart felt that they needed The Enid any longer as a vehicle for their creativity. As Godfrey says "We didn't want to become one of those tired old bands, treading the boards year after year simply for the sake of it." When the album which they had spent much of the previous year recording was released, it came out not as an Enid album, but under the name Godfrey and Stewart.

The album was The Seed and the Sower. It was based on the book of the same name by Laurens van der Post, which recounts his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war (the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence was based on the same book). Perhaps sensing that this was to be the end of an era, Godfrey and Stewart poured everything into this one, to deliver one of their finest ever recordings - over fifty minutes of power and passion.

Godfrey and Stewart took their final bow over two nights at the Dominion Theatre, London, at the end of the year. It was what the fans would have wanted; a ballsy show which packed in all the highlights from the band's twelve-year career. It even brought back Francis Lickerish. And it furnished one last Enid album, the triumphant Final Noise.

A TIME OF UNCERTAINTY FOR RJG

And that, it seemed, was that. Stephen Stewart opted to concentrate on his work as a recording engineer and producer, and Robert John Godfrey began to move in new musical circles, working with young musicians, assembling a number of short-lived bands, one of which - sacrilege! - took the name "Enid". With hindsight, Godfrey now realises he was in the throes of a kind of mid-life crisis, trying to rejuvenate a personal musical youth. A lot of Enid fans didn't like it. Enid tee-shirts were burned at several of the gigs. The projects foundered amid self-doubt, uncertain goals and lack of direction.

Two years of silence followed. The Enid's back catalogue continued to sell, but the prospect of any new music or of live performances seemed remote. Godfrey devoted his time to recording other bands and to mastering the complex world of quantum physics. Once again, the impetus which led to the return of The Enid came unexpectedly, and from outside band circles.

With hindsight it seems as if, quite simply, a vacuum had been created. Magazines had begun to ask what had become of The Enid. Interviews with Godfrey followed. The possibility of a new Enid began to emerge. A few trial line-ups were put together and some tentative gigs were undertaken. Some of the early ones were pretty ropey. The idea was not so much to recreate the past, but to tap into the strengths of the old Enid and to see how the music could be developed in the nineties and beyond.
REBIRTH AND INTERRUPTION

The end of the 90's saw Godfrey actively trying out new Enid line-ups, with the emphasis once again on touring. The entire back catalogue was re-released on Newt Records, and two new albums were produced - Tripping the Light Fantastic and Sundialer. The new music was typical of Godfrey's composing style but the flavour had a acquired a more contemporary feel. This was in part due to the resurgence in popularity of ambient, instrumental music generally, and partly due to the creeping influence of dance music into the band's work. The hugeness, the complexity, the dynamic range of the old Enid was still very much there, but rhythmically the music owed much more to the mid-nineties than to previous decades. Creatively the decade ended with the release of White Goddess, perhaps The Enid's most  focused album in years, combining a haunting ambience with an at-times driving 'folkish' feel.

Things were not to last, however. Godfrey, now in his fifties, began to fall prey to ill-health, and with it, perhaps inevitable, self-doubt. It emerged that he was suffering from, among other things, diabetes. This triggered another essential rethink about his future. Touring was pretty much out of the question, and composition was proving difficult for Godfrey.  He turned his attention to the studio, still called The Lodge and now firmly established in Northampton, which he was running with musician and producer Max Read, who had also joined The Enid. They had a lot of excess space on the premises, and came up with the idea of opening a cafe. The Lodge Cafe had a brief but exciting lifespan, inevitably attracting the weird and exotic, and provided an outlet for Godfrey's (considerable) culinary skills. Unfortunately running a cafe proved even more physically strenuous than touring - long hours cooking and serving, seven days a week. Things didn't end in disaster, however. One of Godfrey's neighbours, an publican expanding along the road, absorbed the excess space in return for giving Godfrey the resources he needed to refit and upgrade the studio and return once again to composing.

FAROUT

And so we await the return of The Enid. Building on the limited success of the Newt deal, Godfrey has sought out a more durable label, and has licensed the back-catalogue to Inner Sanctum. The albums are starting to appear, often newly-packaged, and a new album - FarOut - is in preparation. Creatively Godfrey has taken stock, and, working with Max Read, has come up with an approach which represents as big a development for the band as Something Wicked This Way Comes did twenty years before. That album caused a sensation among Enid fans with its inclusion, for the first time, of songs among the instrumental pieces. Far Out continues this synthesis, but in a more complex and sophisticated way. There are songs once more, but they are set within an over-arching orchestral piece which spans the whole album. The whole is like a rich, changing tapestry, the songs grow out of the evolving larger piece then are absorbed back into it. The result is an album that is both complex and moving, and immediate and accessible. The band's line-up has been drawn from the semi-regular line-up who performed on the Newt albums - Godfrey on keyboards, of course, Read on bass and vocals (he single-handedly provided the 'choir' on White Goddess!), the thunderous Steve Hughes on drums, and psycho-virtuoso Grant Jamieson and punk-meets-Zappa newbie Jason Ducker on guitars. It's a madly adventurous, utterly audacious idea, and can be safely predicted to cause as much debate among Enid fans as so many of the bands albums have done before.

And just to throw in another curve, there's another album in preparation, and one deliberately and radically different again from FarOut. Entitled Virtuoso, it promises to be the most intensive instrumental workout The Enid have ever produced, testing everyone's musicianship to the limit.

Godfrey has never been one for following any set formula when it comes to album releases - no more now than in the past - and the creative tension (and, hopefully, fan controversy) between these two hugely diverse releases will hopefully have people talking for years.

 
"Gamma, help me". my younger grandson said in imperious tones! He wanted me to put in my password  and unlock my phone so he could play with it!

Offline ObiwanKenomi

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Re: Enid, The
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2011, 10:09:32 AM »
New Enid website: http://www.theenid.co.uk/

Obiwan
Music was my first love and still an important part of my life.