Holyground Records - one of the most collectable labels in the world
GYGAFO legend of the kingfisher
track by track

oohs and ahhs corrections, amendments and omissions
  the songs, musicians, the times and memories
  other CDs in "Holyground the Works" series

this page is to accompany HOLYGROUND : THE WORKS CD VOLUME 10
the contents of this page includes opinion, memories and recollections which may not be completely accurate
the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Holyground

OOHS & AHHS corrections, amendments and omissions
please send other corrections to : mike@holyground

errors in 'The Works' CD artwork

  • the label should not say "Musics from Holyground" - that was the performer credit for A to Austr


SIX POINT FIVE AEONS AGO, or six twenty-two last Thursday, depending on how you read the galactic calendar, in the small inner-city solar system of Strapfo Sdeel, close to Holyground's head oflice, life began. It began when a multi-limbed creature, quietly, sarkily, jokingly and lyrically crawled and strummed its way up the river bank and into the bus shelter. Bells sang, the choir rang out . . .

The creature paused a while (thirty years and three, or a couple of minutes) to consider. Having dealt with that, it/they drew it/themself/ves up to its/their full height,
peered over the scarlet plastic seating and enquired ofthe gent there, for such he was, whither and whyfore, and where could it/they get breakfast? To this day there are philosophers who argue how history might have developed if, instead of the gent, it/they had first met, say, Howard or the nice man who plays lead violin with the Jovian State Orchestra and Sons. But it/they didn't - they met him . . .

story-line by Mike Levon,


by Ian Dewar


look at my head held high in the air
see my problems, hear my prayer
I clean my teeth three times a day
fair in work and hard in play
I love my wife with endless flair
along with the church and long be it there
I'm a good solid man or so they say
come to my home and I'll ask you to stay
stand to attention, kneel for the right
poke your tongue out at your neighbours
during the night
look at my nose held high in the air
see my splendour, cheer my glare
I'm a good solid man or so they say
come to my home and I'll ask you to stay

The church bells were recorded by Mike - they are Wakefield Cathedral's.

Mike Levon, 1973

That part of the creature which was Ffaste-One indicated its displeasure and spurred its/their otherness to move. Religion, particularly the traffic worship and blessings of the fumes, especially those of Sdeel, was not to its/their taste. All in all it curled its/their fifty toes unpleasantly. On, it/they moved.



by Eddie Stringer and Jon Atkinson

at first I see people running
rushing following feet and legs
through narrow streets
with roads attached
buildings stand together
watching for the ones to come inside
their ever-friendly trap
traffic rumbles stopping, starting
never ever finding ways
to simply move again
but yonder over, far away
there's peace and quiet night and day
for those with means to last
but friends who live so near
to focus far away and clear
it's simply too much to bear
the final words are clear.

  The weather changed then, as it often did in that place, reflecting the mood of the majority. The creature, now knowing that there was a Quest, but not yet understanding the Question, paradiddled for cover. It was still too dry behind the ears to be caught out so soon before breakfast. That part of it/them named Sat-n-Sunn smiled silently, and then more loudly.


by Charlie Staniforth and Eddie Stringer
sitting here by the riverside
watching the waters flow
you talked of love as though in a dream
and on your face it showed
thoughts of time gone by cloud my head
and make my thinking slow
stormy skies close in
I feel depression low
and I'm waiting for the rain
sitting here by the main freeway
watching the trucks go by
wondering should I, could I take a ride
or let them pass on by
listening as the pounding motors
fall around my brain
rolling on, the wipers flash
the wheels churn on through the rain
and it's too late
and I'm waiting for the rain

  Hardly pausing for breath, lacking lungs as it did, the mood changed; the weather too. The sun came out, and the view came out in sympathy . . .


by Charlie Staniforth and Jon Atkinson
ancient cities cast away
your pain of time
for you are calling him
who dares to answer yes
walls condemn
the entering winds of long ago
I came down
and walked through the forests
flew over mountains
filled the winds with voices
all the living paid each life
to the suns
I joined all with sounds to be as one

Charlie Speed
(Charlie Staniforth)


The surprise floor-show delighted it/them, particularly that part which was Jae-Ae. It pointed the way, indicated the route, showed it/them the horizon, and you could even whistle it too. After dropping a sizeable coin, carefully transported from the upper-tip of the spiral calves of the Maid of the Galaxy, into the brilliantly positioned felt hat, it/they felt better and left. Just in time . . .


by by Charlie Staniforth and Jon Atkinson
as I cycled through the season's weather
coming home
counting hills and fields and dales forever
smoke is rising
dust is spreading everywhere
love is lost with hopelessness
skies of rain they fall and behold
followed by fields of fire
reaching for the leaves
as branches unfold
the winds of autumn come
insufficient lies the bright time low
now you think you've lost your world
now the better times have passed
your friends where have they gone?
they only used your face to laugh


"SIDE TWO" of original vinyl release

The Question formed itself in the quiet cells of that part of it named the Silent One. For the very first time in its living memory, this part spoke, slowly, thoughtfully, clearly: "Wait, think.....`it said. All stopped for, well let's say a short while, okay...?


  it's no use you people
telling me to search around
I'll sign on and on at Box 1 baby
take a ride down town
hey and I looked so silly
when I used to try and hide my hair
they used to sit downstairs
baby they cut my hair
All the people around you know
baby if looks could kill
look as if they got their share
but they didn't get their fill
hey and I was so stupid baby
when I used to hide my hair
when they say that's my fault baby
do you think that's really fair?


Jon Atkinson
vocalist with
until 1974


  So to all appearances it wasn't the outward appearance that mattered. That fact the creature now understood, as if struck by a flash of lightning, out of the iridescent blue. It/they knew that the Question was deeper, wider and clearly too much before breakfast.

Breakfast itself came and went, and the tide too, and with them the Answer. Running swiftly after it and clawing it back, it/they read it, scrawled as it was on the back of an Interstar envelope. It said " . . . to the Master of the Reels,
Holyground, Earth . . . , and note this, BORE NO STAMP. However, we digress, what really mattered was the Message on the old envelope. It spoke reams, told them all. At last they knew.

  today I am a man
who holds his head so high
no pleasant sound
shall ring out for the tides
I am the man
who shows the way for better lands
I leave my secret travels for the blind
people follow, they try to find
they try to reason why
so here we're standing
at the witness stand
we turn our faces
sideways to the wall
someone comes and shows
the proper way to stand
but never tried to understand at all
today I am a soldier
from forgotten wars
no-one told us what
we're fighting for
now the day is gone
and I'm so far from home
someone now has surely locked the door
now they have died,
they know how to live
but it's late, so late, to try

Pete Nickson,
  The Question was answered, the puzzle met. The Quest but remained : to rise to the stars, to carve a name, to find fame. As the one of it/them called Wavelet memorably put it, "To Make It or Not". It would, as in the best tales, and this is surely one, mean a long journey, up Snickets and Ginnels, under Dark Arches, through Brim and Firestone, even unto Teardim which was Once Upon a Time. With tears in all eyes, the creature set out on the perilous course, watery, wet and West . . . leaving those left . . .


as she smiles love from her eyes
he gently waves goodbye
if she lost nothing could count cost
his love was even higher
the wind moved him far
he looked like a star
and he still shone to her
with thunder abound
his body lay drowned
what was to cause
such a sad parting?
her eyes filled with tears
she thinks of past years
of the times they were one
now they are two
such a love we have spoiled
by our hands, by our hands
now together, forever
they wander in love
across the waters,
forever, forever . . .
oh those Halcyon days

Charlie with
Paul Kent,
bass player
  The Kingfisher, Al Syan the Third, finished singing his blues, coughed and left right. Many of those in the hall can, to this very day, remember where they were and what they were doing at that instant.

The echoes died away. The creature was now five, and was one too. Free for now, and for then. It sang and sang . . .

. . . and then the man came: "G.Y.G.A.F.O", he said.

Hardly the end.

Holy Mike, The Year of 018 Gygafo, or 1988

The group's name came from an incident when a concert promoter refused to pay them - "Get Your Gear And Fuck Off" he declared!

additional tracks

by Eddie Stringer

by Charlie Speed

by Eddie Stringer

by Ark


'What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You' and ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ feature Graham Schofield on vocals.

The recordings were made in stereo, and the only known copy was on a tape found in Charlie Speed's garage. Luckily they were still in good condition!

Retrospect’ is an incomplete out-take from ‘Legend’ sessions, lacking the vocals.


The "Works" series comprises all Holyground recordings made from 1966. Two tracks by ARK are issued on LOOSE ROUTES Volume One. They were recorded at Holyground around the same time as Gygafo were working on "Legend of the Kingfisher". Mike was struck by similarities between the ARK track on this CD and Gygafo's title track, and so he included it on this release. A long track, just like "Kingfisher".



Mike called the Ark track 'The Flagstone Path' - if you know any of the members of Ark from the early Seventies (or if YOU are on this track),
get in touch


Jon Atkinson vocals, mandolin, guitar, flute, glockenspiel

Charlie Speed lead guitar, guitar, vocals

Eddie Stringer keyboards, piano, vocals

Paul Kent bass

Pete Nickson drums, percussion

Graham Schofield (on tracks 8 & 9) vocals, guitar

with Mike Levon sound effects, air guitar

songs copyright GYGAFO : STARSONGS MUSIC P.1973
galaxy wide distribution by MAGIC MIXTURE


In association with Kissing Spell Records, Holyground has released all the recordings from the '60s and '70's, except for Skybird's Summer Of 73, and Bill Nelson's Northern Dream.

Several of the albums have only ever been released in small vinyl runs : volumes 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11. All have a considerable number of additional tracks. The average running time of each CD is over 60 minutes and often more than 70 minutes.

Mike has scoured his archive and made several surprising finds, especially the
songs "hidden" on the bottom track or other side of the tape - tracks even he didn't know he'd got!

Each CD in the series has:

  • from 60 to 74 minutes of music
  • full colour eight page booklets and inlays
  • renovated and previously unseen photographs and original artwork
  • words to all original songs
  • additional tracks, out-takes, and contemporary tracks (covering just about everything Holyground recorded!)
  • several previously unreleased recordings, and some remixes
  • a special silver label and logo, in a rainbow of colours!
  • background and recording information
  • a special webpage with more information, recollections, photographs and news
  • info, and anecdotes  . . .   the works!

ASTRAL NAVIGATIONS and A TO AUSTR are the most well known albums on the label during its early days from 1966 to 1975. These and nine others make up the "Works" released through KISSING SPELL:

series volume
release date
LAST THING ON MY MIND has never been released since the original 99 vinyl copies made by Mike Levon when he recorded it in 1966. It is an album of folk and early folk rock - the roots from which Holyground grew. There are standout performances from Chris Coombs and others. It's an album of great beauty: if you close your eyes you can see the candles, and feel the dark . . . There are also several out-takes and contemporary recordings never previously released at all!
The first LP to carry the 'Holyground' label. The name comes from an Irish folk song, and was used by Mike to name his flat in Cyprus Street - doesn't everyone name their homes? Recorded partly in Bretton Hall, partly in Jacobswell Lane - Mike's later flat, shared by Norfolk Jim, Brian Wilson and Derby Dick, most of the tracks were made in Moodies Bar. Moodies was a real old-fashioned pub in 1966 - 67. Women had only just been allowed in! - although they were still excluded from the small back room where the recordings were made. In fact, Shirley Levon may have been one of the first women to drink in there during the recording sessions! A mixture of traditional folk and new acoustic songs, with a nod towards early folk-rock, Bread Street sold 243 out of 250 copies made, and still made a loss!
In 1967 Mike Levon moved into his own flat in Cass Yard half-way down Kirkgate. There were two large bedrooms, and one quickly became a studio, allowing Mike to start recording drums and electric guitars. His first electric recording was of Bill Nelson's group 'Global Village' - a good omen for the future! From late 1967, through 1968 and 1969 Mike recorded a variety of people including several commercial records of clubland artistes such as Winston Smith, Joanna Starr, The Method, and even an LP of mood music for a local bingo chain. During this time he started working closely with Chris Coombs, and with existing musicians such as Brian Wilson, augmented by other new people like Al Green, George Mabon, Brian Calvert and Ted Hepworth. The results was the album A to Austr. This dealt with many current themes: from drugs to sex, wisdom to wonder, and resulted in a very varied album of what has become know as psych-rock. It was Holyground's best work to date, and set the scene for the 1970-71 period: a busy, creative time which saw the making of albums like Jumble Lane, Bill Nelson's Northern Dream, Gagalactyca, and above all the seminal 'Astral Navigations'. Austr itself was viewed by some as their favourite album from England: 'they do it all,' said American dealer Greg Breth who was l;ucky enough to find one copy from the 99 made.

Described by one collector as a “deeply evocative and enchanting album which really touches me”, ASTRAL is seminal Holyground. The album has two complementary sides: side one features songs by Mike Levon and Brian Calvert, and by Chris Coombs: acoustic rock with Holyground’s psych edge. The three Chris Coombs tracks also feature Bill Nelson on lead guitar. Side 2 showcases Thundermother, searing guitars in a progressive, acid-rock band featuring David John who had earlier recorded with Joe Meek as David John and the Mood.

GAGALACTYCA has only been released on vinyl. It is a sister album to Astral Navigations. There are two "sets" of music : Chris Coombs and others (Lightyears Away), and Thundermother. Chris and Mike Levon wrote songs for the Light Years Away "side" of the album. Standout tracks are the short though beautiful "That Is What We Need", and "Cold Tired and Hungry" a storming track featuring Bill Nelson on guitar. Thundermother come up with five brilliant tracks, four of them their own songs. Standout tracks are a version of "Woman" by the group, an acid guitar epic in "Come On Home", and the beautiful "Woman In My Life".  
Described accurately by one reviewer as “going through so many unexpected and bizarre changes as to be completely un-categorisable”, JUMBLE LANE was recorded by friends and local students in the summer of 1971. From the delicacy of “The Gallery” and “Blues for Joanne” to the rock of “Frustration: Ends Away” it’s psych rock of the highest calibre. Bonus tracks include songs by Steve Channing who made his debut on JUMBLE LANE.
JUMBLE LANE’s success meant new students at the nearby college would turn to Holyground to record their own albums. Pete Howells and Jim Gordon, as BLUE EPITAPH, made the acoustic, psychedelic whimsy that is ODE - another highly collectable Holyground album. The third group to do this, in 1974, recorded the album “JUNCTION 32”. As an album it was not a success, but there were some fine tracks, and these are included as bonus tracks on this CD. Bonus tracks are the best of the 1974 album “JUNCTION 32” : Third Take / Whiskey In The Jar / Bill Bailey / Prickety Bush / Bold Princess Royal / Ropegate Rag.
During 1972 and 1973 local band GYGAFO recorded a variety of tracks at Holyground. Rock with a psych edge, recorded in true Holyground tradition, the band featured Charlie Speed on lead guitar. Charlie’s lead, with Eddie’s keyboards, makes the album glow. Standout tracks are “Solid Man Song”, and the long, pastoral title track. One bonus track is by a contemporary of the band, Ark; another guitar led band stretching out over a long song.
In 1975 Mike closed down Holyground (temporarily as it turned out) to start a new studio venture in Doncaster. In the last few midsummer weeks he suggested to Steve Channing that some of his songs, plus some Mike and Steve would write later on, should be recorded. Mike asked the members of 'Lazy Days' to join in giving (as he thought before the recording sessions) a line up of Steve on vocal / acoustic guitar; Dave Wilson on electric guitar; Alan Robinson on bass; and John Shepard on drums. None of the band had met Steve on the first day of recording, and to Mike's surprise Lazy Days turned up with a Hammond organ player, Mick Spurr, who also added an early Moog synth to the line-up. The results, even on the first day, were magic - a lively set of songs driven by Steve's vocals and skills on guitar, and backed by a tight and fluid group. The songs, often blued based, were lovely. The atmosphere was electric, and pushed along by the knowledge that Holyground was ending. Steve and Lazy Days had been regulars since the 70's - Steve appearing first on Jumble Lane and Lazy Days had recorded there on several occasions and in different line-ups. This CD captures the end of an era.
volume one
The original Loose Routes double vinyl LP with a large format booklet consisted of many tracks which have been included with other "The Works" reissues, and in the case of Bill Nelson, on "Electrotype". This two CD release is largely unissued material and, with the other "Works" CDs, completes the Holyground recordings. Volume one covers the start of Holyground and the period upto the making of Astral Navigations in 1970/1971.
volume two
Volume two starts with Thundermother and carries Holyground through to the (temporary) end in 1975. The final track is from new Holyground recordings from 1990.
All the Holyground recordings made by Bill Nelson from 1968 to 1972, (excepting Northern Dream - separately available, and Teenage Archangel). The CD has 21 tracks, and covers the period from the start of Global Village up to the early Be Bop De Luxe. 68 minutes from Bill's first ever recording to the days just before signing to EMI to make Axe Victim - all the Global Village and Be Bop De Luxe recordings still in existence.