The Mammalian voice. The voice of Mammal. Without Pelle Almgren‘s contribution, there would be no Mammal Trilogy. His effortless warbling reaches heights that mortals can only dream of.
He is, in every sense of the word, a Swede. And it was from Sweden that he wrote Gordon a fateful email in the dying days of the summer of 2002. Posing as an unreformed Jet-fan, he enquired about Gordon’s activities and current philosophy. After an exchange of CDs, the pair met up in Stockholm, along with another of Pelle’s collaborators, also called Pelle, to record a Rolling Stones song for a tribute album and to set about writing some material, for no clear purpose.
However, Pelle (the first one) had failed to mention in his emails that he (Pelle, the first one again) was also a singer, and a remarkable one at that. Having fronted a series of bands, he finally achieved enormous success in Sweden in the 90s with his band ‘Pelle Almgren & Wow Liksom’. Despite the fact that they only sang in Polish, and that their repertoire consisted uniquely of songs about trans-gendered Thai monks, they filled the enormodromes (and in fact have reformed in 2009 – here’s their MySpace page).
But life as a rock god began to pall, and Pelle (the first one) retired to a studio-bound life of songwriting and later, when that also palled as well, to the erotic territory of real estate. His yearly efforts with Martin Gordon however have seen him take the stage once again. The pair (with band) have performed in the US and the UK, and tours of Lithuanian cowsheds beckon as the latest part of the Mammal Trilogy is released to an unsuspecting world.
Chris Townson and Martin Gordon have played together for over thirty years. But Townson’s career began even earlier, with proto-punks John’s Children (1967). Featuring a young Marc Bolan on guitar, they outraged the establishment, were banned from the British airwaves, were thown off a Who tour for upstaging the headline band and predictably dissolved into a welter of confusion, frustration and nude photographs. (Townson later depped for Keith Moon for a UK tour, when the Who drummer was ill. His contract stated that he should be fully clad at all times).
Bolan went on to form Tyrannosaurus Rex, singer Andy Ellison wandered lonely as a European clod for some years until he hooked up with Martin Gordon in Jet, and Chris Townson joined skinhead thug-band Jook (1972). They were managed by the Sparks management – when that band sacked their bassist Martin Gordon, Jook bassist Ian Hampton was roped in as replacement, and thus Jook became defunct. So Chris and Martin, who already hit it off socially, began playing together in what became Jet (1974). Following an album and tour, that band went into a period of hibernation, to emerge as punk band Radio Stars (1977).
At this point Chris left the music scene, and became an illustrator and later a social worker. He returned to music in the 90s, with a reformed John’s Children, by now featuring Martin Gordon on bass, and worked with Martin on the first four episodes of the Mammal Trilogy.
Unfortunately his effectiveness as a drummer was considerably reduced in February 2008 when he died. He has subsequently been reincarnated as a park bench, placed in a scenic setting in the British South Downs. He can comfortably accomodate up to four people at a time (assuming a Body Mass Index in a range of 18.5 – 25. Fat people can be accommodated only by prior arrangement). Martin wrote an obituary of his pal for the British paper the Times.
Ralf Leeman, leader of the Berlin band the Smash, was performing with legendary Spooky Tooth singer Mike Harrison when Martin Gordon spotted him. His ability to switch from Townsend-like rhythm guitar to banjo or ukelele at the drop of a plectrum was remarkable, and Martin asked him to play on the third installment of the Trilogy, God’s on His Lunchbreak.
Ralf’s ukelele and rhythm playing came into the foreground – upon listening to the demos, he constructed his own guitar parts and the results will inspire equal parts of shock and awe. His battery of antique guitars and amps is second to none; Les Paul Juniors, Rickenbacker 12-strings, Fender Telecasters, Vox amp, Cry-baby and Fuzz Face pedals abound – who won the war anyway?
His Berlin activities currently include Bluegrass Overdrive, who perform original Appalachian Mountain hill-billy version of rock classics for the inbred and senselessly violent, a soul band and a sixties cover band known as the Heartbeat Five. His MySpace page can be found here. Keep swingin’, daddy-o.
Recommended to Martin Gordon by his former tutor at the prestigious Hans Eisler music university in Berlin, Enrico Antico has played on four parts of the Trilogy (III, IV, V & VI). A trained musician, he specialises in writing 5-part harmonies especially suited to footballing songs, and in fact has done so for the Trilogy.
He runs both a rock band called Menta (MySpace) and indulges his own somewhat more arty leanings as well, just as any sensible half-Sicilan has a perfect right to do.
His heritage – Mediterranean temperament mixed with Prussian solidity – makes him the perfect guitar choice for any event, and we can recommend him wholeheartedly. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t recommend any of the other musicians mentioned here wholeheartedly, just that we do recommend Enrico wholeheartedly, alright? As well as all the others mentioned here. Blimey, some people…..
Stephen Budney, who also likes to be known as Steve, is one of the loudest drummers in the entire cosmos. He invited Pelle (the first one) and Martin Gordon to Boston in 2007 to perform with his band at a prestige gala handbag convention. Many delightful examples of contemporary handbag design, as suitable for the upwardly mobile business person as for the Thai monk, were demonstrated to the thronging Boston crowd. Colours ranged from buttery to light topaz. Later, Mammals were paraded for the attendees’ delight.
Following his debut into the World of Mammal, Steve (or Stephen, as he prefers to be called) was invited to London in 2008 to perform twice in the same evening, once in the Mammal band and then as a part of Radio Stars. Following THAT, he was later invited back to perform with Radio Stars for their UK dates in December 2008.
Efficient scheduling meant that there was also time for Stuart (he prefers his friends to address him as Stanley) to visit Berlin on the way back and complete the final part of the Mammal Trilogy. He later returned to the USA and has since disappeared into the fleshpots of Las Vegas, never to be seen again.