Label: Deram (this re-issue Acme Records)
Year of Release: 1969
Now, there were two Bulldog Breeds. One were a slightly proggish, psychedelic outfit who once recorded a track which was brilliantly titled "Top of the Pops Cock". The other were a band of white supremacist skinheads. Both acts released albums called "Made In England". Guess which one this isn't? One thing's for sure, I'm probably going to end up having to turn the comments off on this entry if a fan of the wrong band drops in via a Google search.
Although it's not entirely clear what the hell "Halo In My Hair" is all about (although I think it's safe to say that white supremacy doesn't feature) it presents itself with such an array of ridiculous effects that it charms you into submission. The vocals appear to be sung through a shimmering, gargling soup of effects, a bit like somebody singing in the room next door to you with their head submerged in some custard. This makes extracting sense from the lyrics difficult. On top of that, there are endless chirpy ringing noises, and it all skips along merrily, without purpose and without a care. Not a hit single in anyone's language, but far from being a total waste of time as well.
The B-side "Portcullis Gate" involves further melodrama about nothing particularly coherent. The over-dramatic silliness present on both sides of this disc does foreshadow a lot of what was about to happen in the seventies with prog rock (the bonkers-random village green musings of Peter Gabriel in particular) whilst still retaining the brevity and melodic simplicity of British psychedelia. It's a single which sits neatly on the cusp of the two genres right at a time when a sea-change was occurring, and for that reason alone I've never been able to enthuse about it to the same degree that other listeners have (I know at least two people who count this among the best psychedelic singles they've heard). There's something too self-conscious about it for me, and the 'fun' seems to be rather too calculated and eager to please, like the office joker who claims to "accidentally" walk into the building wearing odd shoes on Monday morning. Just as you suspect prior planning on the pranny's part, you also know damn well Bulldog Breed probably spent days thinking up the elements of silliness on these tracks. For me, it feels hundreds of miles away from the unpredictable and rather more spontaneous nature of Syd Barrett's work, and closer to the rather more mathematical precision of the seventies.
Still, I have been known to give this a listen on many occasions, and by no means do I want to completely slate the work - both sides are chirpy and insistent enough to win you over if you're not in an easily irritated mood, and there's no question that the band are smart enough to pull this off without looking like idiots, which is no mean feat given that most prog bands in the seventies hopelessly failed on that score. It's quite easy to understand how it's been put on so many sixties compilations, and why it was granted a limited edition reissue recently. It manages to spread cheer even though it really should just utterly annoy. That alone makes it more interesting than most of the singles I've uploaded here this year.