Monday, 18 March 2013

"Space Minstrel" by Beige. Prog rock, 1978

Back in the early 1970s, people were listening to progressive rock concept albums by bands like Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, & The Carpenters, but by the late 70s the form was faltering under its own weight and social attitudes were changing, as is apparent from the anachronistic double gatefold album 'Space Minstrel' released by Scarfolk's very own prog group, Beige.

Beige's guitar, lute and harpoon player, Geoff Djeff: "I'd been struggling for hours to come up with a fresh concept. In a flash of inspiration I got the idea of combining a cosmic apocalypse with my favourite TV programme, 'The Black & White Minstrel Show.'* I knew right away I'd got something really classy..." 



Here's the story of 'Space Minstrel' from the LP's inner sleeve notes:

"The earth has been completely smashed up by a disappointing nuclear war. The only survivor, a minstrel, clings to a big lump of rock that was once part of the Queen's garden. As the minstrel hurtles through the spacious universe, he sings show tunes and music hall favourites to the planets as he passes them. But without a real audience he's soon depressed and considers flinging himself off his rock into a nearby black hole... 


...However, his love of song is too strong. He endures and his voice echoes through the heavens, bouncing off stars, nebulas and other cosmic rubble. 400 billion years and 3 days later, his vocal vibrations are picked up by an alien race called The Capri-Cortina. They discover a bit of thumb in the minstrel's white glove, rebuild him, and create millions of copies. The minstrels are given their own planet called Zipadeedoodah31-TX where they happily sing for what is left of eternity..."

'Space Minstrel' was, perhaps not surprisingly, Beige's first and only album. They disbanded in 1979 and Geoff Djeff formed a short-lived minstrel punk band called 'The Dainty Boys.'

'Space Minstrel' (Scarfolk Records & Tapes. 1977)

Tracklist:
1. The Apocalypso of Creation's Demise
i. Earth Dearth
ii. Part I
iii. Celestial Dixie Suicide (in Top Hat & Tails)

2. The Majestic Cosmos of the Infinity-sized Steamboat Vortex
i. Mammy with the Four Green Arms in 4/4
ii. [Instrumental: Mellotron & banjo duet]
iii. New Horizons of the Intergalactic Space Minstrels in Space

*It's hard to believe now that The Black & White Minstrel Show was so popular and ran for 20 years until 1978. For those who have suppressed the memory, here it is.

7 comments:

  1. Oh my, what a superb prog spoof! I actually did something similar myself over on my blog if you'll permit me to share...
    http://randomramblingsthoughtsandfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/story-time-falcon-their-place-in-rock.html

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  2. Bah ! A cheap rip-off of Jethro Tull's Black And White Minstrel In The Gallery.

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  3. I well remember The Black and White Minstrel Show. In fact, one of my fondest memories is wetting the bed when I was about four years old, and my mum brought me downstairs to watch TB&WMS, at which point I crapped myself. Happy, happy days!!

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  4. Last week I was looking through this book ... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Memories-Black-Country-Photography-Presents/dp/185858129X/ and there's a photo in there from the 70s of Lenny Henry, putting on white make-up backstage at the B&W minstrel show. It was just a publicity shot, but even so ... Still very difficult to believe it actually happened.

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  5. It was probably funnier than when he "white-ed up" pretending to be Steve Martin in 1989...

    So, who's going to have a crack at recording this LP for real?

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  6. Don't knock it: it was a vital part of Mississibean culture and kept many coloured immigrants employed (as make-up artists, music consultants, poachers-turned-gamekeepers etc).

    Anonymous: people like you always have an excuse ready for excreting in the wrong place. Learned behaviour.

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  7. I was in a B&W minstrel group in a fund-raising concert for my junior school in 1954.(I was 10 years old.)

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