17 May 2015

Legay - No-one/ The Fantastic Story of the Steam Driven Banana



Label: Fontana
Year of Release: 1968

Of all the psychedelic obscurities to enjoy an unofficial seven-inch reissue, Legay's "No-one" is perhaps one of the least expected but most deserved. Unlike a lot of "psych monsters", "No-one" was surprisingly overlooked by the big-hitter compilation series of the eighties and nineties, rejected (or perhaps undiscovered) by "Rubble", ignored by "A Perfumed Garden", snubbed by "Chocolate Soup"… and as for an appearance on the "Nuggets II" box set, forget it, obviously.

This is an absurd state of affairs, because while most of those compilations tended to dub any pop song with flowery lyrics and a tiny bit of phasing on the drums during the bridge as "psychedelic", "No-one" is full-on sitar chaos. Thrashing exotically away, it's like a bubblegum "Tomorrow Never Knows" or, perhaps, like an American garage band filled with Eastern Promise. Filled with excellent driving beats, it makes an immediate and positive impression.

Of equal interest is the B-side "The Fantastic Story of the Steam Driven Banana", which surely wins the much-coveted prize for "The Most Popsike Song Title In The World Ever". Poppy, breezy and riddled with chiming keyboard hooks, it rivals The Blossom Toes for both absurdity and beautifully insistent melody. As for why a steam driven banana would be owned by a farmer, I'm not the person to ask.

Legay were apparently a very big deal in their native Leicester where their live set partly consisted of convincing and hard-hitting soul and Motown covers, meaning that this single only scratches the surface of their abilities. Consisting of John Knapp on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Dave McCarthy on Bass, Robin Pizer on guitar and vocals (and clearly songwriting duties), Rod Read on guitar and vocals and the oddly named Moth Smith on drums, they later evolved into the seventies outfit Gypsy.

Circle Records are planning a seven inch EP of previously unreleased Legay tracks for the beginning of June.

(Someone has correctly pointed out to me that "Steam Driven Banana" is commercially available on various websites, so I've deleted it from the box below. However, the curious can still hear it over on YouTube). 

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