Year of Release: 1968
In the world of that thing we call "popsike", it's beginning to get tougher and tougher to find items which remain uncompiled. So many compilations summing up the late sixties era have by now been released by labels both big and small that very few stones are left unturned - and when you consider some of the sheer nonsense that's been remastered by major labels, you could be forgiven for thinking the bottom of the barrel has so many scratch-marks on it that it might resemble a Pollock painting in etched form.
This is why turning up something which remains generally unreferenced is a huge thrill, and whilst I wouldn't want to make massive claims for "The Company I Keep", it's still a damn strong example of popsike balladry, having the same rueful, dark charm that a great many of the more reflective moments on the "Circus Days" series of compilation albums had. In this case, Mr Spender appears to be giving a girlfriend of his a thorough dressing-down for thinking ill of his friends and associates, and failing to be polite and welcoming. Perhaps his lady friend had been bored shitless by their talk of musical obscurities. It's difficult to say - but what we can ascertain from the grooves we're presented with here is that the track has a simultaneously dreamy and dark nature, pulling in the delicate but detailed orchestral arrangements so beloved of many artists during this era, but adding a layer of spite on top which sounds as if might actually be genuine. There's a summery nature to the disc, but rest assured there are thunder-clouds on the horizon, which gives the record a bit of a kick that many of its more well-known cousins definitely lacked.
Brindley D Spender is something of an enigma, but I have managed to ascertain that his real name is Ken Smart, and he'd previously been a member of the Rubble compiled Sons of Fred, as well as a member of Odyssey who were briefly signed to the independent Strike label. From there, the trail goes cold and it's impossible for me to ascertain what became of him or where he went next (if anywhere). If anyone knows, please check in and share the information.
I can't find much information on Domain Records either, although it would seem that they were an indie manufactured and distributed by President if my basic identification of British sixties pressing styles is anything to go by - and it's probably not. (And don't call me sad. You won't be calling me sad when I find a really rare Beatles outsource pressing in Oxfam through learning this stuff, will you? You will? Oh).
(This blog entry was originally uploaded in June 2011. I don't have any new information to impart, unfortunately).