13 February 2019

The Keystones - Faded Flowers/ Psychedelic Prayer

Ultra obscure and perplexing organ driven Dutch 'psychedelic' 45

Label: Omega
Year of Release: 1968

Here's a mystery for you all. This is one of those 45s barely anyone seems to own a copy of, but nonetheless isn't especially valuable. This, on first inspection, seems slightly unbelievable. Any psychedelic record - even if it only features a pub singer singing a pop standard with some heavy studio phasing - seems to go for at least a tenner these days. So what's the issue here?

In answer to my self-posed question, I suspect it's because The Keystones were only ever really a psychedelic group in their own minds. Pre-empting the trend for ebay spivs claiming anything with a 1967 release date is a "PSYCH RARITY!" they've released a track with a flip called "Psychedelic Prayer" here which doesn't really tick many boxes on the "Psych or Not" electric lemonade test sheet. True, there's an organ high in the mix on both sides, but it's more Bontempi than Farfisa, and beyond that these songs are just mellow, tuneful little jams with classical influences.

The flip is inevitably the most interesting, in that it features a primitive kind of rap which seems to act as a psychedelic incantation over the  Bontempi riffs. I'm quite sure I know roughly what The Keystones "were on", and it's nothing stronger than Tizer.

10 February 2019

Reupload - Jackie Lee - Space Age Lullaby/ Sleep

Fantastic piece of 70s futurism for an ICI Pharmaceuticals project

Label: ICI Pharmaceuticals Division
Year of Release: 1972

Jackie Lee is no stranger to this blog. Back in March 2012 we focussed on the dual-headed kinderpop sensation "Inigo Pipkin/ End of Rainbow", the B-side of which still causes outbreaks of wistful melancholy in me despite the fact that I'm almost certainly not the target audience. 

Lee is probably most known for the "Rupert The Bear" theme so far as the general public are concerned, and that's a pity. She cut a number of knockout singles throughout the sixties and seventies, of which the Northern Soul favourite "I Gotta Be With You" highlights her strengths most keenly. A fantastic and highly expressive vocalist, it's unsurprising that she found herself in demand for soundtrack and session work when the "proper pop career" failed. 

"Space Age Lullaby" is one of the odder Lee efforts, being a Bowie-influenced ballad produced for the Savlon Babycare range (say that sentence aloud, bounce it around the room, revel in how ludicrous it sounds). ICI Pharmaceuticals whisked her into the studio to beautifully whisper lines like "Put another ring around Saturn, space age boy" and "Will you circle the stars incredibly suited/ in silver with fish bowls for eyes", all while backed by a lush arrangement. While it should be the usual cheap plastic junk which is so often thrown off the corporate promotional production line, it's actually a delightful product of its era, filled with wide-eyed wonder and naiveté, embracing the future rather than fearing it. Clearly addressed to a small child, it's sad to consider that we wouldn't harbour such thoughts about a new-born now - we'd just keep our fingers crossed that the future stayed environmentally and economically stable. 

6 February 2019

Pacific Drift - Water Woman/ Yes You Do

Lovely piece of simple, mellow hippy pop from Manchester prog outfit

Label: Deram
Year of Release: 1970

Here's yet another track that originally appeared on the "Great British Psychedelic Trip" compilation series, but since seems to have fallen out of circulation. Perhaps that's not too surprising. In those environs, it sounded ever so slightly unBritish - it was originally recorded by American heavies Spirit, after all - and shot through with a mellow, countrified sheen rather than the hooky, phased pop of the other tracks.

While it never felt as if it quite fitted in there, as a stand-alone single it sounds far, far better than I remember, and the group find a ridiculous number of things to do with the simple song structure. By the time the tinkling piano enters towards the end of the track, you'd have to be a dedicated misery-guts not to raise a smile.

The flip-side isn't bad either, with Pacific Drift showing off their more natural bluesy leanings. They were, in fact, a progressive blues-rock group from Manchester consisting of Lawrence Arendes on drums, Larry Harrop on bass, Graham Harrop on guitar, Barry Reynolds on violin, guitar and vocals, Brian Chapman on keyboards and vocals, Dave Davani on horns and Jack Lancaster on "woodwind". 

3 February 2019

Hogback 'n' Pig - What Can I Say/ If You Can't Be Good - Be Bad

Driving piece of proto-glam rock from this porcine outfit

Label: CBS
Year of Release: 1971

You may remember me talking about reader Daniel Williams sending me some mp3s for an obscure outfit called The Secrets last month. In the process, he also sent me two singles by this bizarrely named group, who sound more like the trading name of a stall you'd find at a farmer's market than a rock band.

A group they were, mind you, with the members Stuart Edwards and Dave Taylor who were also in the hired band who went under the name Edison Lighthouse. While "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" was all airy, breezy pop, Hogback 'n' Pig sees them completely letting their hair down. A simple glam backbeat acts as the foundations while subtle electronic squelches and wailing guitar licks sit beneath their growling trucker vocals. If this doesn't fill you with the desire to don denim and spray yourself in Blue Stratos, I don't know what will, and it's somewhat surprising it hasn't found a place on any glam rock compilations yet. It's a mean little number. 

30 January 2019

Peter Anathan - No More Love/ Georgia On My Mind

"Northern! Mod Dancer!" the vinyl sellers say. "If you say so", I say.

Label: Fontana
Year of Release: 1966

Once every so often I'm forced to observe collectors enthusing about a single online which I think is just a bit of vaguely enjoyable, serviceable pop and little more. This, I hate to confess, is one of those moments, but rather than ignore it completely I thought it would make sense to upload this single so you could all judge for yourselves.

The A-side "No More Love" is the one causing all the fuss here. Yet another Howard Blaikley composition - did the pair ever stop writing songs, I ask you? - it seemed to have appeared at almost exactly the same time another version emerged on Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich's debut LP. Whereas their version is a slightly quirky but otherwise recognisably DDDBMT-ish affair, Peter Anathan here appears to be trying to make it a dancefloor hit. This has got the same springy, pounding, jiggy swing to it you'd expect of a lot of 66's bigger hits, the trouble is it's hampered by a slightly stiff, formal arrangement. It should fly, but it never quite makes it.