15 November 2008
Peter & Gordon - Hot, Cold & Custard
Year of Release: 1968
He buys sweets for little children/ and they refuse him... He's my old Uncle Hartington/ he needs us, we don't need him/ There goes the doorbell/ Oh, don't let him in..."
This album has been under a lot of discussion on the Internet forums recently as being a "great lost classic" (it remains unavailable on CD) and whilst I'd love to join in with the jumping up and down, I have to forewarn you that if you press play expecting such wonders you may end up sorely disappointed. Really, I feel that this deserves to be filed under 'interesting' rather than 'classic'.
"Hot, Cold & Custard" is, it has to be said, a fantastic period piece, but frequently borders on the kitsch. Right down to the sleeve design, I've sometimes wondered to myself if this is where Reeves and Mortimer got the inspiration for Mulligan and O'Hare from - there's a disturbed yet gentle folky oddness about it which instantly puts one in mind of men addicted to hormone replacement therapy tablets.
Besides that, the album is littered with clumsy philosophical references (try "The Quest for the Holy Grail" for some interesting thoughts on religion), childlike naivete in tracks like "The Magic Story of the Park-Keeper and His Fairy Godmother" - which incorporates some very odd honking, experimental improv-jazz noises - and the sheer determined stridancy of the track "I Feel Like Going Out (And Doing Something Quite Important)" (my brackets, not theirs) can't be ignored either. The word I would use to describe "Hot, Cold & Custard" is 'charming' rather than 'brilliant'. It has a restrained feel about it and an innocence which make it a peculiarly gentle piece of hippy-ish work. Once every so often you can detect a note of agitation in either Peter or Gordon's voice, only for it to be soothed down by the next lilting chorus.
What really cannot be ignored is the volume of people - and particularly psychedelic collectors - who seem to adore this album, so perhaps my personal viewpoint is rather unfair. There's also no question that there are some top quality moments to be had on here, the track "Uncle Hartington" being one particularly humorous moment which, if you're a fan of the more toytown end of psychedelia, you'll absolutely love.
That the album didn't find an audience probably shouldn't be considered too surprising, as it's neither fish nor fowl. Not way-out enough to find favour with the hippy movement, nor lyrically straightforward enough to please the Mums and Dads, "Hot, Cold & Custard" was Peter and Gordon's final piece of work. Following its failure, Gordon Waller went solo and recorded Jimmy Webb's "Rosecrans Boulevard" which really pushed the boat out and is a must-hear - but that's another story.
Sorry to say that I downloaded this album from a bit-torrent site as well - I try to only include my own CDs and vinyl on this blog, but I thought that this one was too interesting to let go.
A1. I Feel Like Going Out
A2. Freedom is a Breakfast Food
A3. Never Ever
A4. The Magic Story of the Park Keeper and His Fairy Godmother
A5. Sipping Wine
A6. Greener Days
B1. You've Had Better Times
B2. The Quest for the Holy Grail
B3. She Needs Love
B4. Uncle Hartington
B5. 'Cos You're A Star
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