Year of Release: 1968
If there's one thing about a lot of psychedelic and hippy singles of the sixties I find hard to take, it's the lyrical references to all the sad old losers in the world who work nine to five. "Wear a suit and tie/ when I'd rather sit and die", as The Leaves ranted in "Too Many People" - because, like, wearing a suit is a sign of sure evil and signals the fact that you are regularly tickling The Man's cock. Complete drivel, obviously.
That said, you can appreciate their sentiments of anarchy and freedom however clumsily they may be expressed, even if it does involve forcing yourself back into the mentality of a time when new pathways and possibilities did seem to be opening up that didn't necessarily mean living a conservative nine to five life. The Plague here, for example, released a sinister 45 which seems to be examining the dilemma from a rather bleak perspective. The B-side "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" is a taunting, nagging, finger-wagging piece of work with some very sneering vocals - "Save for your holiday/ twelve months you work, two weeks you play/ next time summer comes around/ you may be six feet underground" they warn like psychedelic Grim Reapers. Fair point, chaps, although putting out one single with Decca then disappearing without trace so that bloggers and writers in the future can't identify who the hell you are doesn't seem like much more of a long-term strategy. Still, they tried. They at least did that, didn't they?
It's a solid two sides on offer here, though, with the A-side "Looking for the Sun" being more chiming and subtle, but still having a similarly eerie and doomed feel. Despite this, luck was not on their side. By the time Decca launched this on to the public the summer of love had come and gone, and psychedelic pop was beginning to seem a bit like yesterday's news. Had this been issued earlier I'm tempted to argue that it might have been a hit, but sadly it's hard to imagine it being a jolly daytime radio staple - it was always going to achieve cult status at best, and that's exactly what happened. Original copies of this are so sought-after now that they frequently sell for three-figure sums. My copy (pictured above) is a facsimile issue, hence the printed-on "spider" in the middle (it would seem that pressing plants don't seem to have the facility to create ye olde "spiders" in the middle of seven inch records anymore).
Rumours abound that The Plague were actually a studio-bound record label project rather than proper hippies, which (if true) just goes to show that The Man can disguise himself very well when he wants to. I'd appreciate some confirmation on who The Plague really were and where they ended up, but I'd be joining a long, long list of people wanting to know the answer to that, so I won't hold my breath.