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  John CRAVEN
John Craven, 1977Born: Leeds, England, 1943... Became established session guitarist/keyboard player in late 60s London, working with the likes of PINK FLOYD and JIMI HENDRIX. Moved to New York in early 70s and was involved in the various scenes there before being persuaded back to the UK to join Welsh folk-rock act Et Zenda. Masterminded Et Zenda's image change and debut album under new moniker ET CETERA. All copies of the album were destroyed in a fire prior to distribution along with master tapes, and the band split, with Craven taking drummer IKE IMESON with him as he embarked on a solo career as a guitar-god. Style: Trashy punk and tape games of the 1970s were replaced by flashy guitar genius during the 80s: CRAVEN ANGEL TRILOGY is synth-goth-metal on the whole, but material is as wide ranging as electronica, folk and techno. Songwriters: mostly own material, and the occasional short but liberal reworkings of classics. Also a covers album: SONGS TO SCREAM AT. Trivia: Often proclaimed as one of the architects of 70s punk. More accurately, he is often cited as the major contributer to the break-up of the COOKIE CRUMBS.

Recommended:  Craven "A" (*8) / Death Bitch Queen (*8) / Craven Angel (*7) / Death of the Craven Angel (*6) / Craven Images (*7)
 

METAL HEADED JOHN CRAVEN
JOHN CRAVEN (ex- GARY LEYTON & THE BUZZARDS, ex- ET CETERA)- guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals / IKE IMESON (ex- ET CETERA) - drums
Jun '75 (7" - 7JC1) DEATH AND THE MELON / JESUS SPITS
Mar '76 (m-lp - AJC1) CRAVEN A
- Death and the Melon / Sleeping Heavy / Tijuana Bluegrass Nightmare / Jesus Spits / Cry Like A Woman / Die Like A Woman // One Night Stand / Everything That I Am / Smokes / The Calculator Song. (cd-iss. Jul'01 (AJC1CD) on same disc as Death Bitch Queen) (cd+=) Ashes to Ashes / Paranoia.
CLUSTAJC1 - mini-LP - c.30'
Craven's debut album begins with the dark and menacing single "Death and the Melon". The track is supposed to have been a big source of inspiration for Joy Division. After two minutes it melts into a soup of static and out rises "Sleeping Heavy", an unusual chaos of backwards guitars and vocals made up from the "Death and the Melon" tracks. The chaos dissolves into a sweeping guitar effects loop before we wake into "Tijuana Bluegrass Nightmare", a short pseudo-country number about a drunken night in a Mexican sheep-farm. Then comes the punk/metal of "Jesus Spits". The riff owes slightly to Black Sabbath, but the lyrics and style are very much punk, and the track is hailed as being one of the first punk singles - something which Craven dismisses as bollocks. Side one closes with the extended rock-ballad "Cry/Die Like a Woman": six minutes of strangled guitars and strained vocals.
Side two begins with the simple thrash-stomp that is "One Night Stand", a track whose instrumental is its principal saving point.  Then we move on to the second six-minuter of the album: "Everything That I Am", a song about mental health. The instrumental, full of tape and guitar FX, is again arguably the best feature. "Smokes" is a fast and furious heavy thing which is nice enough, and the album closes with the definitive and guitar-laden reworking of Et Cetera's "The Calculator Song". It's a bit murky, but nice enough.
Thirty minutes of tuneless noise-drenched guitar, recorded in studio downtime, that showed a great deal of promise. Fans are often divided between this record and "Death Bitch Queen", and many "Craven Angel"-era supporters hate this rougher early period with a passion. The feeling is often mutual.
 - Evan Paris

Sleevenotes excerpts:
Recorded during uninteresting moon-phases between April 1975 and January 1976, by experts. Approximately three and a half lungs were irreversibly damaged in the making of this recording. Four kidneys and a liver were also affected.
GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: John Craven Kills Babies.
"John Craven is always cool, fresh and kind to my throat"
 

Sep '77 (m-lp - AJC2) DEATH BITCH QUEEN
- Sordid Nights in Dusseldorf / Death Bitch Queen / Fuck Window / Souls We Dry-Cleaned Before // An Audience with the Pope / Dead Clergy / Deuteronomy in the Salad Bowl / Psalm 666. (cd-iss. Jul'01 (AJC1CD) on same disc as Craven "A") (cd+=) Ashes to Ashes / Paranoia.
CLUSTAJC2 - mini-LP - c.30'
Death Bitch Queen is, in my oppinion, the best solo album John Craven ever did. It opens with what is actually Queen's "She Makes Me" played backwards at various pitches, and finally building up into the loop that forms the basis for the album's title track. This is a fantastic cacophony of multiple screaming vocals and looped guitar tracks that breaks down and comes to a halt in time for "Fuck Window" - a reworking of "Da Doo Ron Ron", set on the windowsill of a coven. Side "Blue" then closes with the beautiful "Souls We Dry-Cleaned Before". Hidden deep beneath this Godspeed You Black Emperor!-like piece is a school orchestra that played so bad they had to be covered up by hefty processing. The result is row after row of tear-jerking synth-like passages (courtesy of Craven's Blue Meanie effects unit) building up into a wonderful crescendo before dissipating into four minutes of (a little ahead of its time) filtered noise.
Side "Black" kicks off in exactly the same way as side two of Queen's Sheer Heart Attack LP (from which the sleeve is taken), only in this version, Roger Taylor over-does the screaming and collapses. The somewhat odd tape-play that follows then gives way to the most conventional track on the record, "Dead Clergy", which follows very much in the vein of "Jesus Spits" and "Smokes". Then comes "Deuteronomy in the Salad Bowl" - surely the first ever cover of Star Wars's "Force Theme" in rock music, coming, as it does, in the same year as the film. Again this is a synth laden track with some more processed noise and school orchestra thrown in. The album then concludes around the church organ for the whimsical "Psalm 666".
The album had mixed success. Craven had built up a heavy punk following, and by essentially eschewing the genre in favour of a more "post-rock" sound, at the very time when punk was at its peak, he also alienated much of his audience. The fact is though that this album was rather ahead of its time, and like I say, it's his best too.
- Evan Paris

"And nobody played harpsichord."
 

IMESON quits to form LCD. Later quits music and becomes a maths teacher. Has brief comeback with SQUARE ROOT before embarking on a solo career with THE SCIENCE DEPT.
CRAVEN splits with girlfriend CATHY CARROW after a one night stand with her bandmate KIRSTEN MAY. He burns his house-boat home, and heads to Morecombe.
JOHN CRAVEN
JOHN CRAVEN - guitar, bass, vocals, keyboard; 
with minor contributions from: BILL BRUFORD - drums (ex-KING CRIMSON) / MEL COLLINS (ex-KING CRIMSON) - saxophone
Aug '78 (lp - AJC3) LIFE AND DEATH IN A WEST COAST RESORT
- Life and Death in a West Coast Resort pt.(i) // Life and Death in a West Coast Resort pt.(ii). (cd-iss. Sep'01 - AJC3CD) (cd+=) Death and the Melon (live) / Sleeping Heavy (live) / Tijuana Bluegrass Nightmare (live) / Jesus Spits (live) / One Night Stand (live) / Everything That I Am (live) / Smokes (live) / The Calculator Song (live)
CLUSTAJC3 - LP - c.40'
CLUSTAJC3CD - CD album - c.75'
John's first album without Ike Imeson is a gentle, semi-accoustic concept piece, largely recorded in a hotel room. It is reminiscent, in form, of the like of Van der Graaf Generator, only with more guitars. It is a moving work largely concerning itself with themes of loneliness and isolation, but it isn't "Metal Headed" John Craven really, and was not very popular with the already alienated fans. I quite like it though. It's certainly different, like every third album should be.
The album was made following John's break-up with then-girlfriend Cathy Carrow. John Craven was 35 at this point, and later referred to the record as a "half-time breather".
- Evan Paris

Sleevenotes excerpt:
Written, performed, recorded and mixed by (the half-dead) John Craven, during a tour of tastelessly decorated hotel rooms within earshot of the Irish Sea. Boring techincal stuff courtesy of Dafydd Morgan at Clustcwyr. Drums by Bill Bruford. Sax by Mel Collins. Sandwiches by Shelley.
"Half way through now. All downhill from here."
 

now with STEVE HILLAGE (ex-GONG) - guitar, vocals. CRAVEN plays all other instruments plus further guitar and vocals.
Oct '79 (lp - AJC4) CRAVEN ANGEL
- Death and the Raven / The Resurrection / Earth Mother / The Scream / Death Plane pt.1 // Birmingham / Death Plane pt.2 / Soil Survivor / Brain Dead / X285-FUOK / Death and the Raven reprise. (cd-iss. Sep'93 - AJC4CD)
CLUSTAJC4 - LP - c.40'
CLUSTAJC4CD - CD album - c.40'
The most famous of all John's albums. It's a concept piece like West Coast, but much much darker: the story of a demon who rises from the grave to destroy Birmingham. At times experimental, and at times wonderful, although not always (and not nearly as much as DBQ). "Soil Survivor" and "Brain Dead" are the most accessible of the tracks, but are prehaps a little clichéd. "Birmingham" is good though, and the two way soloing of John and Steve on the instrumental "X285-FUOK" (clearly the best track) is arguably the best sample of guitar work ever committed to tape (well it's up there). That said, it is an album that can at times get quite dull. The arpeggios in "Earth Mother" quote a Tiny Tim song, which is quite amusing trivia. Anything else? Well, the drumming is not that great!
This album is clean, straight goth-rock, and fans of the first two albums will likely find little of interest here.
- Evan Paris

"Dedicated to the people of Birmingham."
 

now with backing group (of Newsround presenters etc.) THE ANGELS OF DEATH:

STEVE HILLAGE - guitar, vocals / NOEL EDMONDS (aka CARL WHITTINGTON) - keyboards / MAGGIE PHILBIN (aka PETRA CORREN)(ex-DIRYWIO) - bass / KEITH CHEGWIN (aka DEWI NEWBOLD) (ex-DIRYWIO) -drums

Jul '81 (lp - AJC5) DEATH OF THE CRAVEN ANGEL
- Return of the Raven / Resurrection / Revoloution / Electrick Blue Temple Machine / A Plague of Goths // Death Plane pt.3 / Devil's Percentage / New Age Death / Constance Inseptica / Death of the Craven Angel. (cd-iss. Jul'94 - AJC5CD)
CLUSTAJC5 - LP - c.40'
CLUSTAJC5CD - CD album - c.40'
The second album with Steve Hillage on the team. A continuation of the themes in the previous album, the first three tracks are almost identical to the first three on the last album! This time, the Craven Angel has risen to preach a new gospel, and to supervise the construction of a glorious new temple. But what appears to be a temple is actually a secret weapon, and the Angel takes over the world. The storyline is better formed than that of the previous album, but the music suffers a little, mainly at the hands of Steve Hillage. The album is supposedly a parody of Hillage's hippy seventies output, but all too often this means we have to sit through Hillage quotes that sit uncomfortably amongst the rest of the music. That said, "Goths", "Devil's Percentage", and "Constance Inseptica", are very pleasant indeed.
- Evan Paris

Engineered at Clustcwyr by the evil Dr Morgan. Silas Deremeter appears courtesy of RCA Records.
 

JOHN CRAVEN AND THE ANGELS
As above but without HILLAGE and with ADRIAN MOONEY (ex-THE SEED) as EDMONDS.
Apr '84 (lp - AJC6) SONGS TO SCREAM AT
- all covers: Stay Down Here Where You Belong (Irving Berlin) /The Model (Kraftwerk) / I Am the Fly (Wire) / Swift as the Wind (Incredible String Band) / Over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz) // The Other Side (Tiny Tim) / Ever Since You Told Me That You Love Me (I'm a Nut) (Tiny Tim) / Daddy Daddy What is Heaven Like (Tiny Tim) / The Coming Home Party (Tiny Tim) / Man-Erg (Van der Graaf Generator)
CLUSTAJC6 - LP - c.40'
This is a difficult to find covers album from the mid-eighties. "Stay Down Here" is an irving Berlin song. It was covered by Tiny Tim and this version is not unlike Tim's. Kraftwerk's "Model" gets an interesting treatment which incorporates a little bit of a Kinks song. Then comes a fairly silly rendering of a Wire track before the epic synth-mania of the Incredible String Band's "Swift as the Wind". Side A closes with a heavy version of "Over the Rainbow", easily the best cover on the album. Side B is taken up by a string of Tiny Tim covers, all not vastly different from the God Bless Tiny Tim versions to be honest, but a bit heavier. Then finally comes a Van der Graaf Generator track. This album is nothing special, but mildly amusing at times. 'Maggie' sings occasional lead vocals, making it sought after by Angels fans too.
- Evan Paris

"God bless Tiny Tim, Kraftwerk, Wire, ISB, Dorothy and VderGG. John Craven will return..."

Angels have solo career. Craven has a breakdown. In a drug rehab centre he meets rich porn star CONNIE LINDHURST and moves in with her.
JOHN CRAVEN AND CONNIE LINDHURST
Dec '93 (lp - AJC7) (cd - AJC7CD) C☠NTYPHILE
- Sex in the Country / Down on the Farm / Sweet Saturation / Mastication Baby / Horny Chicken // Labia Fricative / Chains / Frottage Cheese / Erogenous Zones / Moist Clefts / Cress
CLUSTAJC7 - LP - c.40'
CLUSTAJC7CD - CD album - c.40'
Abysmal early-nineties album at a low point in Craven's life. Model Connie Lindhurst is a bad producer, and not a very good singer. Lots of awful sexual innuendo, and not very well thought out music. It is really quite poor and is best avoided. Sides are labeled "In" and "Out".
- Evan Paris
After a short relationship, he leaves LINDHURST and is kept out of trouble by HILLAGE and some new friends:
JOHN CRAVEN
JOHN CRAVEN - guitar, keyboards, vocals, drums / STEVE HILLAGE - guitar, vocals, keyboards / MIQUETTE GIRAUDY (ex-GONG, ex-SYSTEM-7) - keyboards, vocals, percussion / ROBERT FRIPP (ex-KING CRIMSON) - guitar, programming / YOUTH (ex-KILLING JOKE) - bass / ALAN PATTERSON (ex-ORB) - keyboards, programming
Nov '94 (lp - AJC8) (cd - AJC8CD) RETURN OF THE CRAVEN ANGEL
- Awakenings / Chorus / Pain and Suffering / Shit / Bob Holness // Alive / Dead / The Raven's Flight / Bob Holness reprise / The End
CLUSTAJC8 - LP - c.50'
CLUSTAJC8CD - CD album - c.50'
Perhaps the weakest 'Craven Angel' album. Certainly the vaguest; this is very ambient (in a mid-nineties Orb-y kind of way). Highlights are "The Raven's Flight" with it's amazing three part guitar work from Steve, John, and Robert, recollecting "X285-FUOK"; and the moving "The End", about a man who has to dig up his dead wife. Quite where the Craven Angel comes into things, and what the story is (if there is one) is unclear. Not bad, certainly interesting, but not brilliant, despite the celebrity guests.
- Evan Paris

"To the memory of my memory..."
 

------ John concentrates on his journalistic career, and channels his musical talents into writing songs for wildfowl, none of which were commercially released. In 1999 he compiles, remixes and re-records etc. to produce the following:
Oct '99 (dlp - AJC9) (cd - AJC9CD) CRAVEN IMAGES: THE VERY BEST OF JOHN CRAVEN
- Four Way Blues (John Mayall's Blues Breakers) / Voodoo Children (w. Jimi Hendrix) / Paranoia (Et Cetera) / Ashes to Ashes / Jesus Spits / Death and the Melon / Cry Like a Woman / Die Like a Woman / Souls We Dry Cleaned Before / Deuteronomy in the Salad Bowl / Life and Death in a West Coast Resort (edit) / Birmingham / Brain Dead / Resurrection (remix) / Devil's Percentage / Constance Inseptica / Sweet Saturation / Labia Fricative / Shit / Bob Holness (remix) / Music for a Moorhen / The End (re-recording 1999)
Now living on a narrow-boat in Sheffield...
Jan '02 (12" - 12JC1) (cd - SJC1) DITTIES TO DIE TO
- Death Goes to the Disco (Pulp) / Trans-Pennine Express (Kraftwerk) // Don't You Know? (Pulp) / Blood Chant (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) / Look Dad No Tunes (Half Man Half Biscuit) <side 2 runs at 33rpm>
JOHN CRAVEN AND THE ANGELS OF DEATH
JOHN CRAVEN, JULIET MORRIS, KRISHNAN GURU MURPHY, ROGER FINN & TERRY BADDOO

Teaming up to rework two old Angels songs in celebration of 30 years of Newsround:

Apr '02 (7" - 7JC2) WE EAT PANDAS / THERE'S TROUBLE WITH THE SHUTTLE
In Nov, Craven guests on Magenta Moor's "Turn to Face the Light", which he also co-produces.
JOHN CRAVEN AND THE ANGELS
Release 1981 concert film:
Apr '03 (dvd - DJC1) THE CRAVEN ANGEL LIVES
- ACT I: Death and the Raven / The Resurrection / Earth Mother / The Scream / Death Plane pt.1 / Birmingham / Death Plane pt.2 / Soil Survivor / Brain Dead / X285-FUOK / Death and the Raven reprise // ACT II: Return of the Raven / Resurrection / Revolution / Electrick Blue Temple Machine / A Plague of Goths / Death Plane pt.3 / Devil's Percentage / New Age Death / Constance Inseptica / Death of the Craven Angel // BONUS MATTER (live performances - audio only): Miasma / Death Bitch Queen / Death and the Melon / Sleeping Heavy / I Am the Fly / Smokes / Swift As The Wind / Over the Rainbow / Why Are You So Crap? / Everything That I Am / Dead Clergy / Fuck Window / Jesus Spits
Working on a new album, CRAVEN 8, he gets writers' block and takes to drink again. 

Now on Earwax:

JOHN CRAVEN
Oct '04 (cds (credit card format) - EWX45041000108) WAX WALLET 8
 
EWX45041000108 - credit-card CD - c.4'
Craven recorded all five terrestrial television channels and all five BBC radio stations simultaneously, before editing them together into two real-time tracks: TV in one speaker, radio in the other. This is Craven's first original release since 1999, and his first issued tape-work since the 1970s. It marks a welcome return to one of the country's leading and woefully under-regarded tape manipulators. 

Dafydd Morgan's last will & testament requests that Craven performs live with HELENA JONES at the Clustcwyr Christmas Do, 2004. The two former enemies continue to collaborate, starting with Helena's Wax Wallet contribution in Feb 2005. The same month, the two embark on a sporadic double-headed tour, with Craven being augmented by Helena Jones's band. In 2006 the pair set off on a "honeymoon" tour of Europe.

-- Read the EVAN PARIS INTERVIEWS.



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