28 August 2008
The Tickle - Subway (Smokey Pokey World)/ Good Evening
Label: Regal Zonophone
Year of Release: 1967
Uploading Frank Sidebottom's EP a couple of days ago reminded me that Regal Zonophone really was a spiffing name for a record label - and I think that's an appropriate word for a company which sounds so majestic. It doesn't mean anything at all, in case you were wondering, and its peculiar title came about as a result of a merger between two different companies with those given names. I was hoping to find out that a Regal Zonophone was some sort of futuristic recording device favoured by royalty, but sometimes the truth is considerably less interesting than you'd prefer.
Also, despite having spent a large part of its existence releasing Salvation Army music and various budget junk for the benefit of people shopping in Woolworths, for a brief time in the late sixties it was also home to all sorts of interesting pop. T Rex resided there in their infancy, as did The Move, and Procol Harum. And besides them, of course, all sorts of folk passed through the RZ portal without finding fame and fortune, amongst whom we can also count The Tickle.
Formed from the members of a Hull outfit called The Bunch of Fives (who apparently all had similar hair to Boris Johnson, which was forward-thinking of them in a very strange way), The Tickle only made this one single with producer Tony Visconti. Both sides were apparently voted for by their fanbase, and it really is a case of "too close to call" for which should be the A-side. I personally might have preferred the more urgent, catchy "Good Evening" to have been promoted from its flip status, but "Subway" is also a loveable piece of fluffy quirk about falling in love with women on trains. Unlike James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", however, it manages to be light-hearted and bouncy, rather than stalker-ish, and finishes with a sharp and pleasing piece of feedback.
Both sides also both have the bonus of sounding quite unique, even for the time. The keyboard work in particular is complex and almost jazzy, but manages to give the pop tune surrounding it an added dimension rather than sounding messy or overly prog-rock in its nature. Scronking guitar noises, unusual basslines and weird effects permeate throughout as well. It's a deep pity no album or follow-up tracks were ever forthcoming from this lot - I've a feeling they would have produced something memorable at the very least.
Also, confession time - neither of these tracks are from the original single and are digital rips from other sources. I did attempt to bid for this on e-bay (whilst I was drunk, I might add) but gave up by the time the auction got to fifty pounds. I can't tell you how relieved I was when I woke up the next day and remembered that I'd pulled out of it... and yes, "Good Evening" did feature on the "Wallpaper" compilation already, but "Subway" most definitely didn't.
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