July 2005, what pundits and journalists have termed "the most important rediscovered 60s classic", the album with Roger Bunn singing his own and a number of poet John Mackie lyrics, Piece of Mind was brought back into "the arts" and onto the market
The Facts of Life
Vocalist, composer, master guitarist, double and electric bass player, and long standing human rights activist Roger Bunn, worked with dance orchestras, blues bands and jazz groups, including the original Blue Notes from South Africa and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. In 1968 David Bowie recorded Roger's classic "Life is a Circus" and through being careless with his copyright, allowed this early 60s song to fall into the hands of pirates.
A lot of blues lyrics open up with "I woke up this morning".
"Which is exactly what happened to me on the 19th of July 1942 at 55 Portland Street Norwich England: And, as some such war orphan children can feel, once having taken a long look at the stars in the Heavens, and as grateful as I was to those who were trying to raise me in some kind of British pre war tradition. I was ready to "move on" in a number of personal dimensions. As one of my memories was as a baby being picked up and carried to our street air-raid shelter. At seven years old, I already believed that the World was being ruled by a very lethal kind of bullshit and that after millions of years of "civilisation" very little had changed as to the prominence of animal nature in the human being. Thus, from childhood years of playgrounds and streets, and from a life when once a year, as an orphan of a war hero, in some kind of ritual of "victory" over the "Barbarian", I was made to stand on the steps of City Hall wearing the medals of my late father. From out of that era arrived a creative musician. "
Prelude - Piece of Mind Reviews.
Disc Jock Pete Drummond - BBC 1970 – "It is a wonderful album. It’s far too musical and intelligent to succeed."
Nowadays we're all fans. Or at least
we're told we should be. We need to be entertained and demand new familiar or
not-so-familiar sounds to satisfy our consumer instinct. For many, music is more
about selling and buying than creating. Looking back at "psych" music we can
check any number of musical commodities and ask ourselves, "Was it pop with
ornamentation or something heavier and far-out?" In our disposable age it's hard
to see the effect that an album could have artistically, especially in
retrospect. Bands now are happy to ape each other with ironic glee or
frustration for a time when pop music seemed very important. The frustration
also seems to be with the overwhelming entertainment directive that guides so
many of our lives.
But in 1969 Roger Bunn put together "stream-of-consciousness" words with jazz rhythms and acid-psych, punctuated by the occasional James Brown horns, to make a unique album. How many albums, even in the sixties, captured the real sense of unknown territory evident in Ken Kesey's "Merry Pranksters" bus rides?
All through "Piece of Mind" we hear
songs that have the same mythic sense of exploration that was about more than
fashion and drug use. The need to entertain is certainly not just a new
phenomenon. Even the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" seems pulled between the
demands of well-crafted radio-friendly pop expectations and the sense of abandon
and new territory suggested by psychedelia. They pull it off pretty well of
course (as they tended to do), but one could argue that this split between
commercial expectation and artistic development is really what broke up the
Beatles in the end. "Magical Mystery Tour" (the film anyway) certainly didn't go
down very well at the time, and it seemed to be a possible sign of
self-indulgence. But maybe in retrospect we can see that it was just a sign of
the complexity of the times and the difficult balance that's needed to recreate
an experience that is truly internal and "psychedelic" in a way that can be
enjoyed by all.
With "Piece of Mind," we have a real testament to one person's take on many of the influences of the time, and the journey is definitely as inward as it is outward. Looking back, there will be those who prefer more pop with psychedelic tinges in their music, as well as more accommodations for listeners who want their music a certain way. But this is an album that sets its own standard. While the Doors plastered some jazz chord changes onto "Light My Fire," they also couldn't escape the blues background that placed them firmly in a traditional setting. "Piece of Mind" is part jazz as well, but the sound changes from song to song, and it points towards the experimentation of bands like Can, Agitation Free, and the German rock of the 1970's. Listeners may hear cues from folk, jazz and psychedelia, but it's really an album "sui generis" that stands out as an anomaly. People may love it or hate it, but that could well have something to do with where this album points towards, and the listener's attitude about the developments in music and marketing that occurred throughout the seventies.
Regardless, this James Brown meets Arthur Brown meets Pete Brown sort of eclectic style is definitely ahead of its time. Although there is some folk and plenty of acoustic guitar to be heard, this is not a traditional album. The reference guide "Tapestry of Delights" calls Roger Bunn's "Piece of Mind" 'weird but serious pop-sike.' You can hear that in the album along with a whole lot of other sounds. Meeting Roger one afternoon and listening to him weave a conversation from history and religion through politics and music, (the whole time accompanied by gentle improvisation on his electric guitar), I could tell that this was a person who puts a lot of himself into what he does. "Piece of Mind" is definitely of a time, but as a message from Roger himself, it also makes you see the artificial limits of our rush for "new" sounds and things. There is new and old, and then there is truly adventurous music. "Piece of Mind" has some of the sound of a particular time in musical history, but it also has the enduring sound of someone trying something different. And it's that second part that goes a long way towards explaining the difference between commodity-based entertainment and art. - Joe McFarland
Agitato - Piece of Mind Reviews.
In March 2003, Author K.J. Gustin, wrote - "Piece of Mind" captures a specific, colourful, exotic, psychedelic, free-jazz-meets-rock, East-meets-West, progressive, and smoky moment in late twentieth century music history.
In all likelihood it would have been an even more influential album if it had been more widely available in the U.K. or the U.S., rather than Europe. Copies continue to fetch large sums at Internet auctions. Why there was no release of follow-up material to this obscure little gem is a long story indeed. Roger Bunn is the spiritual son of Charles Mingus and Hunter S. Thompson. Fiercely adherent to his eccentric vision of way-out-there avant-garde jazz - regardless of the consequences, the level of public interest, the risk of offending the powers-that-be, or the principles of Adam Smith - Bunn has stubbornly gone his own way since he was a rebel-rousing teen-ager at grammar school.
Lord Byron was the man originally described as 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know,' but that's only because Bunn hadn't been born yet.
Part artist, philosopher, madman, idealist, self-taught musicologist, grassroots leftist activist, master guitarist and kick-ass bass player, welcome to the strange and sometimes beautiful world of Roger Bunn." -- K.J. GUSTIN, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
The Facts of Life
Although it took him 20 years to remember that he had jammed with Jimi Hendrix and the Experience, Roger also worked with Grahm Bond, Marianne Faithfull, Billy Idol, Alexis Korner, Davey Graham, Roxy Music, Pete Brown, Zoot Money, Peggy Seeger, and many of London's top musicians. After spending time gigging at London's famed UFO Club and in Afghanistan, and borrowing the Beatle's studio in Baker Street to record a few demo tracks. In 1969 he recorded his solo album Piece of Mind with the Dutch National Metropole Orchestra. The first ever collaboration between a UK featured artist and European cartel production, re-released in July 2005 along with his "most unusual CD booklet in the music industry". In the early 90s, Roger founded "Jazz Against Apartheid" and before being banned from entry to South Africa by then premier FW de Klerk, co-coordinated sports sanction campaigns for the Anti Apartheid Movement and the African National Congress.
Basso Profundo - Piece of Mind Reviews.
"Roger Bunn spent a large part of his
life fighting racism, corporate corruption and human rights abuses across the
world". Doctor (of politics) Stuart Hodkinson of Red Pepper magazine asked him "Roger, what's
your rebel yell?"
I've got two - 'Shostokovich!' as I despise so many orchestral musicians, the money-grabbing industry controlling sell-outs that they are. And 'Yoodle' - the traditional sixties freelance musician's shout of protest, which loosely translated means 'Screw you and your ol'lady (girlfriend) too'.
Karma and Piece of Mind.
"Got a copy of Piece of Mind Alan?"
"Yes, Roger, you kindly sent it to me a few years back. Good stuff. It takes the world decades to appreciate subtle acts of genius. All my best to you in these perilous times."
Alan Clements, ex Buddhist priest and co-author of "The Voice of Hope", with imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma
Shops can order
Soundtrack of Bye Bye Havana
plus six bonus tracks from
Not only did Roger narrate one of the best Cuba documentaries in 2004, several tracks from Piece of Mind are also part of the soundtrack. Betwwen 1996 and 2005 Roger and J. Michael Seyfert collaborated extensively on a variety of projects and causes including MIHRA "Music Industry Human Rights Association.
Soundtrack of Bye Bye Havana
plus six bonus tracks fromwww.rollercoasterrecords.com
Listen to Roger Bunn's "The music industry whistleblowers song contest"
Lyrics: Pete Brown (Cream) - Thoughts: J P Barlow (Grateful Dead - Founder EFF.ORG)
Music: Hon chief ANC - Roger Bunn
Skip to BYE BYE HAVANA