23 January 2010

The Purple Gang - Granny Takes A Trip (b/w "Bootleg Whisky")

Purple Gang - Granny Takes A Trip

Label: Big T
Year of Release: 1967

The psychedelic scene was a rather picky mistress in the late sixties, and seemed quite heavily concerned with whose face fitted, and not necessarily who was providing gut-twirling oscillations on their latest waxing. Fake hippies were slapped across the cheeks with delight and booted out to the provincial gig circuit to go about their business, seldom being let into the UFO Club or Middle Earth.

That The Purple Gang were adopted by the UFO Club in the late sixties is actually quite out of character, and appeared to have more to do with an anarchic stageshow and various "connections" than anything else. Perhaps the fact that this, their debut single, was banned by the BBC also lead to a degree of sympathy. The censorship of the disc doesn't really make much sense overall, given that the lyrics are about an elderly lady taking a "trip" to Hollywood to audition for films, but the cheeky connotations were obviously seen to be there, and any dreams this track had of getting airplay were promptly ruined.

Sonically it's also about as psychedelic as Lonnie Donegan, and is really some rather pleasing, toe-tapping jugband riffery. If isolated from the scene it emerged from, one would be tempted to argue that it was actually - for it's time - a seven years out of date novelty track. Still, the notoriety lead to a steady, constant trickle in sales, and whilst it didn't make the charts, copies are hardly difficult to come by these days as a result.

Despite the public interest, The Purple Gang were not very sympathetically funded by Transatlantic Records, and apparently spent most of their career living out of a van. Syd Barrett tried to loan them a helping hand by offering them a track called "Boon Tune" for their next A side - for undisclosed reasons this was never used, and it finally ended up emerging as "Here I Go" on his "Madcap Laughs" album. If you compare the lyrical and musical stylings of that track to the two sides on offer here, the original intentions actually become glaringly apparent.

The band have since split up and reformed on a variety of occasions, and despite not issuing a great deal of recorded material still seem to be capable of generating interest. Very recently "Granny Takes A Trip" was included on a free music magazine covermount, proof that a hit single need not be entirely necessary to keep a tune afloat.


The Confused said...

For many years before I finally heard this song, I'd read in too many places about what a psych classic this was so to say I felt cheated when I did get to hear it would be an understatement! Despite that, it is a charming track in it's own right.

An extra piece of trivia, according to Joe Boyd, this was recorded at Sound Techniques studio the day after Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne!"

maria said...

Love this record is all I have to say. There's a youtube vid of the song with some original footage of London's top fashion shop of the same name, which could get pulled, but certainly worth a peek.