28 August 2008

The Tickle - Subway (Smokey Pokey World)/ Good Evening

The TIckle - 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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The Tickle

6 comments:

Cocktails said...

Damn it, I was going to put this up as a Song of th Week sometime soon - I love this track. However, I did not know that they were from Hull, so thanks for that er, additional fact.

I don't have the single either...

23 Daves said...

You may as well upload it anyway - if we all worried about what mp3s had been uploaded to other people's blogs already, the Internet would be a very quiet place indeed. Although I daresay some people might like that...

Which track do you prefer, "Subway" or "Good Evening"?

Cocktails said...

Tough call. I've listened to 'Good Evening' twice in a row this evening and it's pretty damn good. I absolutely love the guitar, but Smokey Pokey World has the tunes I think. And I'm always a sucker for the call and reponse style layering of singing.

I just looked up the liner notes of the compil I got the track off - Chocolate Soup - and it tells me very little other than the co-writer of both tracks was Mick Wayne who went on to join the Pink Fairies.

jonb said...

Well, what a fabulous piece of music this is, not that I'm biased, but I am the drummer on this single. I'm the good looking one on the left!! Mick wayne the guitarist unfortunately died in a house fire a few years ago and the other members are goin' strong. Also by the same lineup was Go home Baby by the Bunch of Fives and She couldnt make gravy by Zebedee

23 Daves said...

Congratulations sir, you're on one of the best singles of 1967, I'd say, where both the B and A side are truly great! You don't have to take me up on it, but perhaps when things are a bit less hectic I can catch up with you quickly about your time in the band?

I'll also try to locate the Zebedee track as soon as I can.

Happening45 said...

Didn't they go on to become Junior's Eyes? Their debut 45 for Regal Zon called "Mr Golden Trumpet Player/ Black Snake" from '68 has a similar quirky busy bounce to it and is about as close as you'll come to a Tickle follow up. It's also a lot cheaper to get than the Tickle 45. An acetate by Tickle also surfaced in 2001 on a comp called "Fuzz Pudding Factory" on the Dig the Fuzz label called "Rose Coloured Glasses" though it's not a patch on either side of the 45 to be honest. An article in Playboy in 1967 suggested they recorded 5 tunes in all and got their fans to choose their 2 favourites for the 45, so there may well be a couple of tracks yet to surface at some point by Tickle. One of my favourite 45s of all time, I picked up an original demo copy back in the early 80s for about a tenner i think...