Many music fans
will know Peter Ivers as the writer of 'In Heaven (Lady in the
Radiator Song)', which he originally composed for David Lynch's classic
film, Eraserhead. The song was later immortalised, of course, by fellow
Bostonians, the Pixies.
Ivers may not be a household name, but during his short life he made an
impact on many fronts. He was a musician, arranger, composer,
screenwriter, catalyst, TV presenter, spotter of new talent, a black
belt in karate and a yoga master. Talking to people who knew and worked
with him even 24 years after his untimely death, the superlatives still
come gushing forth: such epithets as 'perfect'; 'a totally unique and
refreshing individual'; 'a legend in the making'; 'a genius in many
fields' freely trip off the tongue about him.
Peter's first big music industry break came in 1969, when Epic Records
signed him to record his debut solo LP, Knight of the Blue Communion,
the first ever legitimate CD reissue of which is now released on Hux
In addition to playing harmonica and providing backing vocals, Peter
acted as arranger and composer, while his friend Tim Mayer provided all
the lyrics. Ivers assembled a fascinating group of musicians to play on
his record. On drums was Cleve Frank Pozar, with Richard Youngstein on
contrabass, and Tony Ackerman on guitar. The horn section featured Steve
Kowarsky on bassoon, Henry Schuman on oboe and Paul Balmuth on sax.
However, the icing on the cake was chanteuse Yolande Bavan, and the way
in which Peter used her as lead vocalist on the album. Bavan was a
singer and actress who was born in Sri Lanka and had started her
professional career working as a vocalist with renowned pianist Graeme
Bell. Later, she met and was befriended by the legendary singer Billie
Holiday. Holiday took the young Bavan under her wing and in addition to
mentoring Yolande, developed a close friendship with her. Subsequently,
Yolande found her way to America where she replaced Annie Ross in the
renowned jazz vocal trio, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
On its original release in 1969, Knight of the Blue Communion drew
comparisons with Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, with Yolanda
appearing to be the conventional vocalist cast in what was often a sea
of avant-garde madness, the music a blend of blues, rock & jazz. The LP
was produced by the veteran US pop producer Sandy Linzer, who had
written and produced the hit 'Let's Hang On To What We Got'.
Yolande left the band the following year and was replaced by Asha Puthli,
a forward thinking, boundary breaking vocalist who'd trained in Indian
classical singing and was a natural jazz improviser, whom the New York
Times described as 'a sound like raga meeting Aretha Franklin'.
With Asha now on vocals, the Peter Ivers Band released their debut
single in 1971, a cover of the Marvin Gaye number, 'Ain't That
Peculiar', backed by the Ivers' original, 'Clarence O'Day'. Both titles,
previously unavailable on CD, are included here as bonus tracks.
As Puthli recalls, the single 'received glowing reviews from all three
major industry magazines, Billboard, Cashbox & Record World and briefly
entered the Top 100 Singles Billboard charts'. Asha Puthli went on to
sing on Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction album and won Downbeat poll
award for best female jazz vocalist for her sterling contribution to
that classic album.
This special 'digi-pack' format features a reproduction of the original
LP sleeve. The accompanying 20 page CD booklet features extensive liner
notes, including interviews with the featured singers and musicians,
along with the original LP liner note by Peter Ivers, full lyrics to
every track and rare photos.