Sky Five Live

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On stage

Steve Gray

John Williams

Kevin Peek

Herbie Flowers

Tristan Fry

Released: January 1983

Peak position in UK charts: 24 (February 1983)

Availability: If you're looking to buy this album, you're out of luck. The LP/cassette version hasn't been available for a very long time. Two separate CD releases were issued in 1997/8, but neither is currently available. One CD release (single CD) lacked the first track, and the second (double CD) included several studio tracks as padding. In the track listing below, each track title is a link to a short MP3 sample (approx. one minute). Don't ask me to include full tracks on this site - it'll never happen for a multitude of reasons.

Short Review: Every rock band in the early 80s had to release at least one live album (preferably a double LP, as in this case). This release, recorded during Sky's Australian Tour in October/November 1982, includes several tracks previously recorded, but also a significant amount of new material. To my ears, The Animals and Sakura Variations are the highlights of an otherwise pedestrian effort. The extended solos included in this recording of Hotta (which had been toned down for the original studio recording on Sky 2), prove beyond a doubt that however good classical percussionists might be, they should steer clear of drum kit solos! Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the forum!

Track listing (including original liner notes from the band):

The Animals (Flowers/Gray)
Herbie and I have made no attempt to depict any particular animal in this piece. We aimed more for a general evocation of the animal world: of form, movement, size, colour and smell. However, we hope you will allow your imagination to supply various models for the different movements: whatever you imagine you won't be wrong. This piece is dedicated to all animals everywhere (including humans). S.G.

The Swan (Saint-Saens, Arr. Fry)
Apologies to cellists all over the world. This is in fact one of the loveliest cello solos written, which comes from an extended piece called "The Carnival of the Animals". It's quite by chance that the previous piece is called The Animals. There's really no said except that we all hope you have a nice Swan. T.F.

KP1 (Peek)
I sat down to write some notes on both these pieces (KPI and KPII) and found that I couldn't write about them separately even though they are quite dlfferent in so many ways. The main reason I found it difficult to separate them for these notes is that they were written and conceived together at a time (early in 1982) when I was both excited and agitated about moving back to Australia after living a total of almost 15 years in England.
The motifs and harmonies used (in KPI particularly) are very much a reflection of my thoughts on the space and cultural (cultural?) influences of, and on, Australia. (continued after KP2 below).

Dance of the Little Fairies (Flowers)
Yes, you're right: we have done this one before. But we felt that the four numbers on this album which were on Sky 2 have changed so much in live performance from their original conception (pardon?) that they warranted a new listen.
For a start we open with the marimba which you won't marimba from the other performances. Then the two guitars have a go at keeping up this low standard.
Then the piece just falls away from there leaving the dancers on the wrong foot. T.F.

Love Duet (Gray)
One of my favourite titles for a piece of music. You'd expect a nice bit of schmaltz in a Love Duet, but hang on to your hats and hankies.
Take a close look at some of Van Gogh's later paintings and the sunflowers, crows and that are a bit indistinct, jerky, angular, and - despite the critics - deeply romantic. Much is left to the imagination. Impressionism with boots on. Love Duet's like that; stand back a bit and you can see the rainbow.
It's in three 'movements'. The first depicts the morning of a day when somebody is going away. or being taken away, from his love. A bit neurotic, clumsy, excited, happy, scared - just how we might feel the morning that we leave for a month's tour of Australia, happy but... sad but... and lots of other ying and yang.
Part two - the farewell, or maybe goodbye: dramatic, sweet, angry, too long, yet another gentle kiss. Don't be sloppy.
Part three - the self conscious, awkward walk from the door to the gate, keep going, you're doing alright. H.F.

The Bathroom Song (Flowers)
Ignore!!! Except for the Glitterball. H.F.
(Explanation: When played live, as the rest of the band comes in for the climax, a glitterball would descend from the ceiling of the auditorium - hence also the applause you can hear - a cheap but very powerful visual effect!)

KP2 (Peek)
KP II however is much more of a straightforward rock 'n' roll sort of piece than KPI but was still promoted in my mind by the same feelings about returning home after so long.
Ah, well... on with KPIII ... one day I'm going to write something that John finds difficult to play (with an easy part for me of course). K.P.

Antigua (Williams/Trowbridge)
Kevin says he doesn't think much of the name "Antigua" - not to mention the music! But, I ask you, could you ever call a lovely villa in the South of France KP I or KP II? A bunch of friends and I, plus various children, spent some great holidays there - wine, table tennis, wine, cheese, wine, sea, wine, more wine, etc. Angus Trowbridge and I put this sentimental little tune together after the "more wine" and I did the beginning and end bits in a London taxi on the way to Australia. J.W.

Sahara (Peek)
This could be a legionnaire job.
It starts quite menacingly. Where are we going? What's going to happen?! etc. etc. Then there we are: heavy decisive chords followed by a sneaky 12/16 bar and we're into the heavy melody.
After a bit of that, we just sort of fall into an oasis situation: bring your own date.
As I write this, Steve's just fallen off his chair. Probably a good moment to get back to the heavy melody ending with - - - and stay out! T.F.

Sakura Variations (Yokoh, Arr. Peek/Williams)
Sakura, or Cherry Blossom, a traditional Japanese tune. Peace, stillness, space and the hypnotic sound of the minor pentatonic scale. Kevin and I have for a long time wanted to write some variations "in" or "around" this mood, and to combine the softer electric sounds with the acoustic sound. Atmospheric opening chords, the tune, five variations, atmospheric closing chords, stillness. J.W.

Meheeco (Peek/Flowers)
The old warhorse from SKY 3, dusted off, polished up and allowed to grow in the natural area of the stage rather than restricted to the confines of the record groove.
The eerie noise at the beginning of the piece is not Kevin laughing, but a waterphone. A waterphone is a metal globe, filled with water (hence the name) to which are attached brass rods. These are played, by Tristan, with a double bass bow. The rest of the double bass is played by Herbie - the attempt is to simulate, as each instrument enters, the slow breaking of a dawn.
Once we reach the full light of day the piece becomes a dance - a one-legged dance as the time signature is a mixture of sevens and eights (or sixes and sevens if you prefer). S.G.

Hotta (Peek/Flowers)
Like most live L.P's, despite an aggregate age pushing two hundred, we finish with a loud one. It's got a drum machine on it, with the samba button, cha-cha button, rumba button and the slow rock button, all stuck down with sticky tape: leaving Tristan free to play bass drum on the first and third beats of the bar, and snare drum on the second and fourth beats - for starters anyway. The overall effect is a bit (only a bit mind you) like a JOTA (pron: H-H-HOTTA), a Spanish dance rhythm: thus the title. If it's been a good show, we tend to go a bit over the top on this one - out of relief.
There's an element of hooliganism in everyone's love of music; even Tchaikovsky (check the spelling please, Kevin) had cannons and mortar effects in One Eight One Two, and how about Wagner - (who!). The bang-crash-wallop bit in the middle is a drum solo, not nine o'clock on the first morning of a Harrod's sale. It won't get rid of your headache, but it'll make it more enjoyable.

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