Rustic Hinge & The Provincial Swimmers


After White Rabbit finally split up, Rod moved firstly to Calne & then Bristol with his old buddies Pete Biles & Mickey B. (who if you remember was the trumpet player for Flower Of Wisdom). They were inhabiting part of the 'Freaks Castle' that was owned by John Osborne in the Cotham district of Bristol.
The next part of the story has already been documented by Colin Hill in the booklet that accompanied the limited edition cassette release of 'Living Weeds From Ancient Seeds':

"Rod Goodway moved back to Calne at first, and then Bristol, where old friends Pete Biles (who played the bongo's for J.P. Sunshine once in a while) and Mickey B.   had taken up residence in part of a huge shambling palace of a house in the fairly exclusive Cotham area. This 'freak's castle' with bay-windows, balconies and huge basement, was owned by John Osborne, beatnik and artist, who lived with his family on the top floor, and inhabited by a variety of students, madcaps and misfits. Anarchy ruled and, almost as in some profound artistic statement, old fridges and a chaise lounge' lay entangled in the overgrown garden (sounds a bit like their own little Gormenghast, if you ask me, L.). Rod was invited down to 49 Cotham Road and was so entranced by the aura and craziness of the place that he decided to move in, shortly to be joined by his  lady, Mally Parsons, who had been at Polytechnic in London. The landlord regularly threw Bohemian parties for residents and his friends (artists, poets, anarchists and antique dealers (!)) which were very enriching for all involved (a real meeting of cultures: beatniks and acid heads). Rod and his friends turned John onto LSD while they got involved in the free jazz-poetry blows which became an integral part of the evening's entertainment. It was a very creative environment at No.49, and Rod would play his songs at the parties too, often with Pete and art student Kenny Wheeler adding percussion. Compared to the flower tripping J.P. Sunshine material, Rod was starting to write heavier and weirder stuff, and the first batch of prototype songs was recorded solo late in '69, in a very echoey out-of-use bathroom in one wing of the house".
But this was all before Rustic Hinge happened & was to be the embryo of Magic Muscle.
How did Rod come to lay down the vocals for Rustic Hinge? Let him tell you  himself:

"I felt like getting back to the west country again and I moved into a place in Bristol that was a kind of anarchist commune, really. And I was living in this commune and writing some new songs when I got a telegram from a place called Puddletown, in Dorset (this was the end of June 1970). It said "Phone this afternoon. Urgent Andy." Well of course Andy is this Android Funnel character When I rang, Andy said' "Look Arthur's freaked out and left the band here. And it's the remnants of The Crazy World (Drachen Theaker on drums, myself on lead) and there's a few other people hanging around, including Adrian, Adrian Shaw. And, like, we live in this luxurious mansion, and we've got a limo and everything, so you know, why don't you come... What are you inspired by these days?" And I said: "Well I just bought "Strictly Personal" by Captain Beefheart and that's kind of my favorite album at the moment” He said: "Right get down here; get down here immediately.”
So I packed a bag and high-tailed it to Dorset, to this place called Puddletown, where they had their own recording studio and everything, called Jabberwocky Records
(the equipment and amplification gear had all been installed and built by ex-GPO traffic controller Boob Bowden, the resident electronics genius. I've got a photograph here of the farmhouse with the limo outside. At that time, Adrian was driving the limousine; he'd been like Arthur Brown’s personal roadie and also worked the lights for The Crazy World but then became our bass player... it’s funny you know, in those days you didn't ask where the money was coming from. You drifted around from one palatial mansion to another and you took the limousines for granted.  You didn't really  know where the money was coming from, you just knew that you were usually penniless yourself but otherwise living in apparent luxury.  It was very odd, very odd indeed; a bit like being royalty, I imagine".

In the late summer of 1970 then. With Rod's arrival 'The Puddletown Express' becomes 'Rustic Hinge & The Provincial Swimmers. It would seem that the Dorset countryside teemed with musical talent that summer.  Bands like High Tide & Later Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come were resident in the area during this period.
Rod bought with him two songs which seemed to inject new life into the remnants of The Puddletown Express. One was "Fly Brothers" & the other "Lychee".
About this time John Peel paid Jabberwocky a visit to check out what he had heard of this 'strange sound'. He dug what he heard & the wheels were set in motion to release 'T On The Lawn' on his Dandelion label. It never happened. Drachen Theaker did release a version under the Reckless label in 1988 but this was little more than an outtake really. Maybe one day a fuller version may surface. One never knows.
The BBC did actually record a version of 'Lychee' the results of which can now be heard AND seen here.  Rod, how did this come about?

"In the middle of making this "T on the Lawn” monstrosity  a BBC camera crew turned up. (Wanna see the result? then click here ).They were making shots for a programme on Thomas Hardy, "In the Footsteps of Tess of the D 'Urbervilles" or something. Apparently, in the novel Tess was supposed to have lived in this farmhouse (because although Hardy made up his characters, he based where they lived on real places and so Tess was supposed to have lived in the farmhouse we were living in) and this film crew were going round filming all the different places that had appeared in Hardy's novels. And of course when they got to our place they turned up and we had the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's light show on, which looked like an air raid in colour; the whole house was lit up and there were strobe lights, and you could see it from miles away. And there was this crazy rock group playing out on the lawn. It wasn't like we were playing any kind of conventional music, it was outrageous, nasty, bad     trip music but Michael Croucher, the producer (who was a lovely bloke, by the way) liked it. He thought it was so bizarre, you know, to go from Thomas Hardy to the sort of things that we were doing. He actually listened to the tape and enjoyed it; he saw the Bartok connection; he could dig it on that level: Bartok Stravinsky and maybe Stockhausen as well. And he dug it; so he filmed the whole lot. The BBC banned it from the eventual programme that it was filmed for; there was a flash of this manic group on the lawn and then it was gone. We were on screen for about two seconds. The actual thing that was filmed was a poem of mine called "Lychee" put to the music of Rustic Hinge And The Provincial Swimmers. We looked like one of the weirder Indie bands going over the top! Adrian Shaw was wearing a grass skirt; fishnet tights and had "SGURD" written across his chest. He had some strange idea that the filming process would reverse it so it would read "DRUGS" when shown on TV. I believe a guy called Fred Bison also tried this trick recently on his "Beatroots" album.
I got (and kept) my Rustic Rod persona because I was, like, the singer of Rustic Hinge but in the end it became too intense living down there because they were all crazy, I mean, we were crazy too but Android and Drachen were so manic they'd already driven Arthur over the top and he'd had to leave, literally, to get it back together (“On stage they would play faster & faster- it was impossible to sing to” AB).  If Adrian and l had stayed I think we'd have gone mad as well, irretrievably so. And basically we decided that we didn't want to be in this insular lifestyle we wanted to be a people's band like Hawkwind or High Tide. So we just packed our bags and left with our ladies, and went to Bristol".