Andrew McCulloch is an enigma. He has a very low profile on the internet and in the media, hence information on his early life is very sketchy. What we know is that he was born in Bournemouth on 19th November 1945 and that he probably spent a period of his childhood and early teens residing in Hong Kong and Hiroshima, Japan. When he returned to England, Andrew played drums in The Indigos with future Web guitarist John Eaton, before taking a job at John Dickenson’s Pinewood Motel in Ferndown where he met Greg Lake. The trio of Dickenson on keyboards, Lake on guitar, and Andrew on drums formed Shy Limbs in 1968 under the watchful eye of local promoter and manger Carroll Hardingham. They secured a deal with CBS and recorded two Dickenson penned songs in October at Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park. The A side, “Reputation”, was a heavily phased organ epic similar in mood to Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” while the flip, “Love”, was a driving slab of psychedelia with punchy bass provided by Malcolm Brasher from Lake’s former band The Shame and distinctive guitar lines from another studio guest, Robert Fripp. In all honesty, the record should have been flipped, as “Love” is by far the superior track. For reasons unknown, the release date was pushed back to May 1969, by which time Greg Lake had already flown the nest and moved to London to join The Gods. The remaining members threw a launch party back at Dickenson’s motel in Ferndown for music writers and critics in a failed attempt to push the record into the charts, but it was all in vain as it only just scraped into the lower reaches of the top one hundred. To fill the gap left by Lake, they brought in Tony Sword on bass and vocals from Teak and the Smokey, along with former Soundtracks guitarist Alan Barry and released a follow up single, “Lady in Black”, in November. The heavily orchestrated ballad was arranged by Ian Simpson but, yet again, what was supposed to be the better song was eclipsed by the catchier “Trick or Two” hidden away on the B side. Another flop hastened the band’s demise.
Andrew moved to London and rented a room from Keith Emerson of ELP in Drayton Gardens, Chelsea. He scouted around for work and picked up a session with Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three appearing on their second album, Manfred Mann Chapter 3: Volume Two. His next port of call appeared to be a plum job on paper, as he became a member of King Crimson after a recommendation from his landlord, Emerson. The rhythm section of Andrew and bassist, Gordon Haskell, set to work trying to make sense of the arrangements presented to them by Robert Fripp intended for Crimson’s third album Lizard. Working in isolation for almost three months, the pair painstakingly worked through numerous rhythm and time changes slotted together mathematically by Fripp with no idea how the finished pieces would sound. When the time came to record their parts the frustration continued, as Fripp and Sinfield agonised and dithered for twelve hours over a suitable drum sound. According to Haskell, “at the end of the day the drums still sounded like shite”.
Despite its difficult and lengthy gestation, Lizard finally found its way into the shops in time for Christmas 1970. In the new year, the band shifted into rehearsal mode to prepare for a pre-arranged tour of America. However, the initial run through of old material didn’t go well as Haskell and Fripp clashed over the lack of opportunity for Gordon to introduce some of his own compositions into the set-list. He also encountered difficulties with several songs, as they were out of his vocal range. When Fripp suggested he could channel his voice through an effects machine to remedy the problem, it proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and Gordon quit. Andrew followed shortly after.
To help pay the rent, Andrew accepted a short tour of Italy with Kingdom Come, an experimental avant-garde acid rock outfit fronted by the slightly unhinged Arthur Brown. Brown’s main claim to fame was the surprise number one hit “Fire”, which he promoted by wearing a burning kitchen colander on his head doused with petrol. The story goes that at the 1968 ‘Windsor Jazz Festival’, Bournemouth’s own Zoot Money reluctantly threw his pint of beer over Arthur’s head when petrol overflowed from his blazing helmet causing his hair to burst into flames. Nothing that dramatic happened while Kingdom Come were in Italy, as Arthur had moved on from the dodgy flaming headgear to using elaborate props and leaving the stage for innumerable costume changes. The gigs passed without incident, but the music and Brown’s antics were not to Andrew’s liking, and on his return to England he left the band.
Rare Bird, purveyors of keyboard driven progressive rock, scored a top thirty hit with “Sympathy” in the spring of 1970. They splintered barely a couple of months later when they were offered a new contract designed to keep the band poor and their management rich. Disillusioned, their organist, Graham Field, considered returning to his original profession of teaching, but Robert Fripp convinced him to give music one last shot. In a charitable act, considering the predicament of his own band (King Crimson had just suffered an acrimonious split after recording Lizard) Fripp recommended his recently departed drummer McCulloch as a good foil to build a new group around. In turn, Andrew endorsed a friend from Bournemouth, ex Soundtrack Alan Barry. Barry was primarily a guitar player, but Field convinced him to switch to bass, which Barry did although he still added guitar flourishes on a double neck Gibson strung for both contingencies. Immediately the three musicians gelled and began working on a self-titled debut album for CBS at I.B.C. Studios in London under the name of Fields. They concocted a composite of differing styles ranging from straight ahead rock to folk, fused with classical influences borrowed from themes by Bach and Stravinsky. A review in the Melody Maker highlighted the fragmented nature of the recording, “Showcases the faults that accompany bands going straight into the studios without having played their material onstage. Musically it’s superb, but it’s bitty and there’s little consistency between numbers”. While the Disc and Music Echo contradicted this view with a more upbeat, “This sounds like a band who’ll be as good live as on record.” The album sold particularly well across the channel in mainland Europe, which resulted in the band mostly working the club and festival circuits of Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Spain.
When Barry left to pursue a solo career, Frank Farrell from Supertramp joined in time to record their second album, but it fell foul of a reorganisation within CBS. A mass cull in the London office and an unceremonious dumping of several British acts, including Fields, left the band high and dry. The resulting tapes gathered dust for decades until the specialist reissue label Esoteric finally unearthed them and released Contrasts – Urban Roar to Country Peace in 2015. Recorded at CBS Studios in 1972, the eight tracks that they had completed plus three demos, demonstrate a robust transformation in dynamics with the addition of Farrell. In between albums, Field had also left London to live in a small village in Buckinghamshire, which resulted in a shift lyrically from an urban setting to a more pastoral slant. Hugely disappointed, Fields couldn’t survive the abrupt and brutal nature of their dismissal and went their separate ways. Graham Field left the vagaries of the rock scene behind him and moved into television, where he composed themes for Miss Marple and the Maureen Lipman sitcom Agony. In the eighties he reverted to his birth name of Graham Stansfield and moved back to his native Dorset (he was born in Beaminster). He accepted a job at the Poole Arts Centre, latterly the Lighthouse where he worked for twenty-seven years as a music, events and literature programmer. He retired in November 2011 and died in 2018 aged seventy-seven.
As for Andrew, he joined two former Colosseum refugees, organist Dave Greenslade and bassist Tony Reeves, plus ex Samurai and Web keyboard man Dave Lawson in the newly formed Greenslade. Something of a minor supergroup. The quartet made their live debut on 28th November 1972 at the Marquee Club in London supporting boogie rock specialists Status Quo. They signed with the major label Warner Brothers and spent a couple of months knocking the material for their debut album into shape in a hall near Dave Greenslade’s home in Stanmore Hill, Middlesex. Released in February 1973, the self-produced Greenslade was recorded in Morgan Studios in November of the following year and showcased the band’s two pronged keyboard attack to good effect with Lawson on piano and synthesiser adding frills and melody, while Greenslade waded in with muscular bluesy organ and washes of mellotron. Tony Reeves busy bass lines more than made up for the lack of guitar, and Andrew’s precise drum patterns held the whole thing together. The seven mainly instrumental pieces demonstrate an elaborate blend of mainly instrumental jazz / progressive rock compositions, laced with sweeping symphonic passages, the only downside being Lawson’s strained, slightly out of tune vocals.
Ten months later they repeated the formula with fans’ favourite Bedside Manners Are Extra. Amongst the six extended pieces was the instrumental “Drum Folk” which highlighted Andy’s considerable tub thumping skills. To promote the record, the band appeared on whispering Bob Harris’s Old Grey Whistle Test performing the title track and “Pilgrim’s Progress” and recorded two live shows, Sound of the 70s’ and In Concert, for BBC radio. They also undertook a successful UK tour supporting Rory Gallagher. At the time, Dave Greenslade expressed surprise that they were lumped into the progressive rock category along with ELP, Genesis and Yes, with whom he believes they had nothing in common. An odd statement considering their complex compositions displayed classical and jazz overtones which epitomised the genre and their records were housed in Roger Dean sleeves, the go to artist for any self-respecting seventies progressive rock band. It’s no small wonder the comparisons were made.
The third album, Spyglass Guest, was their most successful, climbing to thirty-four in the album charts. To broaden the sound palette they utilised Colosseum’s former guitarist Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson on the strange, Zappaesque “Little Red Fry Up” and the melodic “Siam Seesaw”, which also featured Andy Roberts on acoustic guitar. The violin on “Joi De Vivre” came courtesy of Graham Smith from the Scottish folk rock band String Driven Thing. Shortly after the album’s release, Tony Reeves left to pursue production work and was replaced by Martin Briley, a well-respected session player who worked extensively with George Martin. One incongruous gig that took place around this time happened on 20th July at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, when they were supported by a band making their debut appearance called Motörhead. How Lemmy’s gang of greasy noiseniks went down with a Greenslade audience, I can’t imagine.
Their swansong, Time and Tide, spawned two singles, “Catalan” and the instrumental “Gangsters”, which became the theme tune to a gritty BBC television edition of Play for Today. The one-off drama became a hit with viewers and won a commission for a full-blown series running for two seasons. The final series featured a version of the song with lyrics written by Dave Greenslade and sung by Chris Farlowe. At the end of 1975 Lawson was feeling the pinch, as the band was not making enough money to replace his ageing equipment or to pay the rent. He played his final gig at Barberella’s in Birmingham in December and was replaced by Colin Towns. The new recruit barely had time to bed in when the band split due to managerial difficulties. Over the years there have been several reunions with Dave Greenslade being the mainstay, although Andrew McCulloch has been conspicuous by his absence. Despite being a strictly second division progressive rock outfit, they have a loyal following, especially in Europe and Japan, that has stayed the distance throughout their many reformations.
Greenslade proved to be Andy’s last professional band before his retirement from the music business, although he guested on a few insignificant sessions. During the seventies he appeared on former Cockney Rebel, Duncan MacKay’s, second solo album Score and on Private Parts and Pieces 2: Back to the Pavilion, a mish-mash of songs and instrumental pieces intended for various unrealised projects by the ex-Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips. His final recording occurred in 1980 on the misguided classical / rock crossover album Opus One. Back in the day some bright record company spark thought it was a good idea to take a well-known orchestra, in this case the London Philharmonic, stir in a gaggle of rock musicians, add a couple of choirs and blend on a collection of songs from the sixties. The hodgepodge of disparate musicians tackled pop classics such as “Jumping Jack Flash”, “All You Need is Love”, “Blowing in the Wind”, “I Can See for Miles” and “Good Vibrations” just to see what might come out of the mincer. The end result was neither fish nor fowl, too raucous for a classical audience, too tame and wishy-washy for a rock crowd. The marketing boys at Phillips got over the conundrum by aiming the record at the audiophile, a geek with an overpriced amp, deck and speaker set up, a questionable taste in music and loads of spare dosh to spend on tosh like this. The sleeve notes summed up their strategy thus, “This record is a true test of the domestic audio system; wide dynamics and frequency range; subtle treble presence and resolution of transient sounds in the music; superb stereo placement and a sense of space” before throwing down the gauntlet “Is your Hi-Fi good enough?” I say, “Is the music good enough for my Hi-Fi?”
In 1980, Andy followed his passion for sailing by enrolling as a RYA Yacht-master instructor with the Southern Sailing School on the Solent and skippered yachts around Cyprus and Antigua in the summer months. He now lives in London and spends his winters specialising in one-to-one theory tuition, and in the summer follows the sun to the Greek islands, where he charters, teaches and skippers his own vessel. A technically gifted drummer, Andy lives in the shadow of his predecessor in King Crimson, Michael Giles, but a listen to his work with Fields and Greenslade, especially the recording of “Drum Folk” from the Live in Stockholm CD, gives an insight into his undoubted power and technique. For an overall retrospective of Greenslade, try 2019’s Greenslade: Sundance – A Collection 1973 – 1975 on the Esoteric label.
Andrew McCulloch Discography
Shy Limbs Singles
Reputation c/w Love: CBS (4190) 1969
Lady in Black c/w Trick or Two: CBS (4624) 1969
King Crimson Album
Lizard: Island (ILPS 9141) 1970
A Friend of Mine c/w Three Minstrels: CBS (CBS 7555) 1971
Fields: CBS (CBS 69009) 1971
Contrasts – Urban Roar to Country Peace: Esoteric (ECLEC2488) 2015 Belated release of their shelved second album
Fields: Esoteric (ECLEC 2207) 2010 CD with 2 bonus tracks
Temple Song c/w An English Western: Warner Bros (K 16264) 1973
Catalan c/w Animal Farm: Warner Bros (K 16584) 1975
Gangsters c/w Rubber Face Lonely Eyes: Warner Bros (K 16828) 1976
Greenslade: Warner Bros (K 46207) 1973
Bedside Manners Are Extra: Warner Bros (K6259) 1973
Spyglass Guest: Warner Bros (K 56055) 1974
Time and Tide: Warner Bros (K 56126) 1975
Greenslade Live: Mystic Records (MYS CD 139) 1999 Recorded between 1973 & 1975
Greenslade & Bedside Manners Are Extra: Edsel (EDSD 2097) 2011 2 for 1 CD
Spyglass Guest & Time and Tide: Edsel (EDSD 2098) 2011 2 for 1 CD
Live in Stockholm – March 10th 1975: Purple Pyramid (CLP 0974) 2013
The Birthday Album – Live Switzerland in 1974: Angel Air (SJPCD 491) 2016
Greenslade: Esoteric (PECLEC 22645) 2018 Double CD with 7 BBC live recordings from 1973
Bedside Manners Are Extra: Esoteric (PECLEC 22654) 2018 CD with 3 BBC live recordings plus a DVD containing a promo film and 2 Old Grey Whistle Test performances
Spyglass Guest: Esoteric (PECLEC 22647) 2018 Double CD with 8 BBC live recordings from 1974
Time and Tide: Esoteric (PECLEC 22660) 2019 Double CD with 7 live recordings from a concert taped in Stockholm, Sweden in 1975
Greenslade: Sundance – A Collection 1973 – 1975: Esoteric Records (PECLEC2697) 2019 A fifteen track retrospective
Andrew McCulloch Albums as a Guest
Manfred Mann Chapter 3: Manfred Mann Chapter 3: Volume Two: Vertigo (6360 012) 1970
Lanzon and Husband: Nostalgia: Bradley’s Records (BRADL 1007) 1975
Duncan McKay: Score: EMI (EMC 3168) 1977
Anthony Phillips: Private Parts and Pieces 2: Back to the Pavilion: PVC Records (PVC 7913) 1980
Ray Bennett: Angels and Ghosts: Voiceprint (VP237CD) 2001
The London Philharmonic Orchestra: Opus One: Phillips (6308 317) 1980