Saturday, August 09, 2008

The poet and the elephant foot

A fascinating revelation gives a reason to mention another personality from this era. Our recent link to a review of Shamblejam, Parchment's third album, has thrown up a comment on the other site from punk rockster Bill Mason. Bill mentions that the cover shots for Shamblejam were taken in the London home of poet Stewart Henderson.

The picture shows Brian Smith, Sue McClellan and John Pac in settings which seem to have been lifted from the Victorian age. If you had the US version you probably only had the cover shot - I think it was a single sleeve album. The British gatefold version uses photographs front, back and inside with paraphernalia shots of paraphernalia such as a model elephant and lampstand. As always with this band, the artwork seemed to work brilliantly, reflecting in this case the hippy, folky roots of the music. Nowadays you wonder what they thought they were doing with an elephant-foot stool and a leopard-skin rug on an album which featured songs such as "Green Psalm".

And so to Stewart Henderson. It always seemed he must be closely connected with Parchment. Both came from Liverpool although there is no mention of Henderson having been involved in the Roundabout arts project. Henderson produced poetry similar in kind to the Mersey Beat poets, fun, simple in language, witty, short and thought-provoking. It seemed too good to be true that the Mersey region which had produced Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten could produce another equally talented poet. Yet it wasn't. In 1975 the Dovetail label issued an album of his poems Whose Idea of Fun is a Nightmare, produced by John Pantry . Henderson went on to have a successful career as a journalist, a broadcaster and a poet - although like others of his contemporaries his recent output seems to have been aimed more at childen and the schools market than anything else.

Nightmare was recently posted by the Ancient Star Song blog.

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