27 April 2016

Black Swan - Echoes and Rainbows/ Belong Belong

Label: Ember
Year of Release: 1971

Now here's a rum release. While Black Swan may seem like a group name, it would appear that this was entirely the work of Cherbourg born sixties star Billy Bridge, who enjoyed some minor success in France with tracks such as "Le Grand M". For the Black Swan project, he apparently played absolutely all the instruments himself with no input from other sources.

Unlike his early approximations of beat pop and Rock and Roll, however, Black Swan is essentially very organic late period psychedelia, and in the context of the material he was best known for is as unexpected as finding a Cliff Richard 45 with a heavy hippy feel. Actually recorded across the water in Britain, the A-side "Echoes and Rainbows" has a minimal trance-like insistence, complete with kazoo overload, whereas the flip "Belong Belong" is - illogically enough - much poppier, riddled with merry hooks akin to a slightly lighter version of Aphrodite's Child. In all, the two sides amount to a very hazy, dope-fuelled campfire listening experience.

A full album entitled "Da Ga De Li Da - Echoes and Rainbows" was issued in mainland Europe, but not (so far as I'm aware) the UK. It's been unavailable for some time since and, while it's getting picked up by a few psychedelic aficionados now, remains rather obscure. What became of Billy after this weird footnote in his solo career is not clear to me, but the Black Swan project was clearly a one-off never to be repeated.

Sadly, Billy passed away in Paris in November 1994.

Both sides of this single are available on iTunes as part of the "Ember Pop" compilation, but "Echoes and Rainbows" can be heard in full on YouTube. Very brief clips are also available below to give you a flavour of the single.

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