P is for Pigbag and Philip Glass

Serpent and Apple


A friend invited me to a gig, at the time I was a student at Gloucester School of Art and Technology. At the time I  was into punk and post punk music. I had hardly any notion of jazz. The name of the band was Pigbag, the gig was Bristol University, the music blew me away. Later I was given a copy of Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag, to play at one of the Art School Discos.  This track has been iconic since its first issue in 1983.  The track is a one off; the horn riff is so instantly memorable, it just sticks in the brain, the backing track, bassline and rhythms, brilliantly constructed. The gig at Bristol University totally changed the trajectory of the type of music I would listen to, from then on, as I began to listen to groups such as Rip Rig and Panic, Fella Kuti, as well as a lot of modern jazz groups. I even bought a saxophone and took  lessons. I travelled with the group up to Manchester University, once doubtlessly smoking huge quantities of dope along the way. I was in their third video “Getting up” dressed as a guerilla, cheekily grabbing the trumpet off the trumpet player Chris. I later moved to London and kept contact with members of the band. The band slowly fragmented and went their separate ways. Seemingly two members the trumpet player Chris and the sax player Ollie still keep the Pigbag flame alive, the original Pigbag having split in June 1983.  Papa’s got Brand New Pigbag is used as the music for various football teams to run out to, it has been reinvented as a techno track by various groups, Madness, have included a cover version of the song in their live set on occasions. Pigbag, an unlikely success story, by musicians who started off by having fun jam sessions, whose videos had a homemade quality to them.

I became conscious of Philip Glass, a little while after discovering Pigbag. The first album I bought was  “the Photographer” an album based on the life of Eadweard Muybridge. His work has constantly been a big part of my music collection since then, a soundtrack at different points in my life. His style is quite unique. I went to a ballet in Paris, at Opera Garnier, during one of the performances I became conscious that the music being used was familiar. It soon dawned on me it was Philip Glass. His music is always popping up. It was memorably used in the film “The Hours”. His music works brilliantly with films.  His music is really uplifting.  His music may not be too everyone’s taste, but me, I am a fully fledged disciple.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.


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