The music of Rudi Tchaikovsky evolved rapidly during their short existence, and was still moving forward when they disbanded, somewhat prematurely in 1975. An original 'pub' menu of R & B standards with a touch of jazz rock developed quickly towards progressive concert music on a grand scale, with a variety of idioms, and extended classical forms. However, the core rhythm & blues affiliation was never far below the surface.
The themes combined ecological concerns with love stories in a mix that some have compared with Yes or Genesis, although they were not an influence. Closer inspection reveals the broad 60's band roots of Rudi, from the Who, Stones and later Beatles, to early Pink Floyd, Hendrix and Cream. Of the progressive stable, their affinity was with Gentle Giant, but they would have rated none more highly than Steely Dan.
The name 'Rudi Tchaikovsky' comes from a character in a Micky Spillane novel, and was suggested originally by Lizzie in Notting Hill (for another unnamed band, see below).
Forty years on and we have a review of the live recordings.... click on the link below to read the review:
Yachting on the Niagara
An ecological blast that seems made for the 21st century. By the way, the singer, who remarkably had only recently joined on this live recording, had not yet learned the words of Yachting. It should be ‘when they rise from the hills’, not ‘we’ : ‘they’ being presumably whatever remains after the end of humanity. (ants – hills - get it?)
The name of this song had a history, predating Rudi. The outcome of one of those stoned late night squat conversations in late 60’s Notting Hill: ‘hey, here’s a good name for a band . . .’ The band was the little known, ‘One Hand Clap’, and it was Judy, alas no longer with us, who suggested this as the name for the band’s first album. The album never happened. The song came later, and is a dedication.
Comet by Day
This is probably the best song in their set. The Comet was ‘Kahoutek’, which had been touted to be the most visible comet in a generation, but never lived up to expectations. Used here as a double metaphor for ‘emotional distance’ and ecological prophecy, and so combining themes that found constant expression in Rudi’s songs.
You may have noticed that, apart from the fact that it takes upwards of 8 minutes before the vocal line enters, the structure of the song is in any case quite unusual. An adaptation of classical sonata form, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ themes are bass riffs together with their associated chords, carried at times by the other instruments. The development section sets words by William Blake, interspersed with ‘cosmic annotations’. The majestic guitar solo was inspired by a magical viola extempore heard at a live performance of Caravan.
The Castle's Equivalent
Who? This may be a love song. The farm referred to may be in Chigwell, where the band lived and rehearsed. When getting ready for performances, they used a magnificent decaying 15th century barn, open to the elements; when creating new material they preferred the disused pig sties which were warmer.
You cannot hear it in this recording (which came off the mixing console), but the audiences in Holland used to hum along to the opening and ending verses of this song, which always amazed the musicians, as they struggled to play it properly themselves!
Another love song? Or a Freudian joke? Either way, a really fat sound towards the end.
Definitely ecological to end with, although there are still hints of life before death here. The song is really two items; the song, ‘Smoke Screen’, and a largely instrumental ending for the set, featuring an extended drum solo – a 70’s period piece - but none the worse for that (pretty damn good, in fact).