Watching….’Glastonbury Fayre’ & ‘Stamping Ground’

Some time back I was writing about Traffic and how their dysfunctional line-up had convened for one last hurrah in the summer of 1971, producing a live album called ‘Welcome to the Canteen’.  It’s been widely assumed that the reason that the album was credited to the 7 musicians involved (Winwood, Capaldi, Wood, Mason, Grech, Kwaku Baah and Gordon) was because Dave Mason had by this point signed a solo contract with Blue Thumb Records and was therefore unwilling or unable to allow himself to appear-even temporarily –  as a member of Traffic.

Winwood & Mason at Glastonbury 1971; nice sweater, Steve.

However, even before the band had been recorded for ‘Welcome to the Canteen’ at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls and at a Benefit for ‘Oz‘ magazine in London during July, they had appeared – and were billed as – Traffic at the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre at Pilton in Somerset at the end of June.

The film of this event – ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ – clearly borrows a good deal from its predecessors, notably ‘Woodstock‘ and also D.A. Pennebaker’s ‘Monterey Pop’.  The footage of performers is blended liberally with shots of the crowd, clothed or otherwise and coverage is also given of other events such as a Christian service, the famous Pyramid stage being built, people trekking up Glastonbury Tor and lengthy percussion and crazed dancing workouts in the crowd.

Of those who perform , we don’t get to see or hear David Bowie at all, Gong are heard but not seen, strange editing robs us of most of Quintessence’s peformance, so the performers who probably do best out of the footage are Terry Reid, Family, Melanie and Traffic. 

Terry Reid’s opening performance is a tight and funky rendition of ‘Dean’ from the ‘River‘ album – and his band is something of a revelation with David Lindley playing lap-steel guitar, future Yes member Alan White on drums and Linda Lewis joining in on vocals towards the end. 

Family had been filmed at the Kralingen Festival the previous summer (read on….) and, rather spookily, they are featured playing exactly the same song (‘Drowned in Wine’) in both the ‘Stamping Ground’  and ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ movies.  

Melanie……well I think I’ll just move on, because I was never a fan back then and the years haven’t improved matters much. 

Traffic’s performance of ‘Gimme some Lovin‘ is the same percussion-fuelled encore that can be heard on ‘Welcome to the Canteen’, with Ric Grech on bass and an impassive Dave Mason on guitar.  Steve Winwood looks like he’s got his gardening sweater on.

The movie of ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ finally emerged in 1972, with Traffic credited as such – no-one was apparently worried by Dave Mason’s lawyers.  Some eminent names from the UK film industry cut their teeth on the fiilm as well, notably Nicolas Roeg who shot a good deal of the footage, David Puttnam who was involved on the production side and Alfreda Benge, perhaps better known as Robert Wyatt’s ‘signifcant other’ who I think was performing some kind of ‘A&R’ function, making sure the artists were looked after and so forth.

On the same DVD as the Glastonbury movie was a film called ‘Stamping Ground’, shot the previous summer at Kralingen on the outskirts of Rotterdam.  In terms of musicians and bands, Kralingen was a rather more impressive affair – and was also like a  live version of one of those  ‘Rock Machine’ samplers that Columbia Records put out in the late ’60’s.  The number of Columbia artists on show at this event was quite startling – The Flock, Santana , It’s a Beautiful Day, Al Stewart, The Byrds and Soft Machine of whom only the Softs do not appear in the movie. 

Also featured in the film are (as mentioned) Family (with Roger Chapman very pissed off with the intrusive cameraman), Pink Floyd,  Canned Heat, Tyrannosaurus Rex in transitional mode – still a duo but using an electric guitar, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe (solo, no Fish, sadly) and Dr John in full Night Tripper mode, daft head-dress and make-up to the fore.  Other artists at the Festival but not in the movie include Hot Tuna, The Pentangle and local act, Ekseption

Original flyer for the Kralingen Festival, 1970

Like the Glastonbury movie, ‘Stamping Ground’ is very influenced by both ‘Woodstock‘ and ‘Monterey Pop’, with extensive footage of naked hippies capering in the adjacent lake, smoking big spliffs and sharing moments of tenderness.  The musical selections are pretty ragged for the most part, though indifferent sound and some abrupt editing doesn’t help.  Family once again emerge well from proceedings as do Pink Floyd, IABD, Canned Heat and The Byrds.  There are some interviews with Paul Kantner & Grace Slick (were they really this dull?) and Country Joe (nearly as bad) all doing their card-carrying San Francisco agitprop stoner gobbledygook but these are mercifully brief.

Seeing these 2 films for the first time in a long time makes me wish that there were more such documents from those years.  It seems to me that the open-air festivals of the 1970’s were often great at stripping away much of the fakery and bullshit and the bands that did best were those that could really play.  I saw a number of the bands from these 2 movies at other open air festivals and the same bands tended to stand out each time.  Pink Floyd were always worth seeing because I got the feeling that they prepared very carefully to get the sound and the effects right.  Others, like The Byrds and Canned Heat were just good at putting themselves across and bridging that huge gap between stage and festival audience.  I hear rumours that music recorded at Kralingen is finally going to get an official release – as a 3 CD set if what I hear is true.  Maybe it’s also time that somebody cleaned up the ‘Stamping Ground’ movie and finally gave it a DVD release. ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ is already available on DVD for about 12 quid.  Both are curiosities of their times but there is more good than bad in both movies.

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