17 October 2018

Bill - Car Boot Sale/ John Parr

Oddly despairing Steve Wright sponsored novelty single on the pointlessness of car boot consumerism

Label: Mercury
Year of Release: 1993

"Listen to Steve Wright In The Afternoon. Viewed from a certain angle the man is a genius. Find that angle and view. He is the most popular DJ in the country. He has been the heartbeat of the British psyche since 1985. You don't even have to like him to be awed by him. This... is not an attempt at obvious irony, it is for real."
Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - "The Manual - How to Have a Number One the Easy Way"

Over the years, the above paragraph from the KLF's guide to making number one hits has troubled me. Once they've mentioned Steve Wright in relation to their summer smash "Doctorin' The Tardis", some parallels become very clear - Wrighty even used comedy dalek voices on his show, though noticeably after Drummond and Cauty used them first (and after Victor Lewis Smith, for that matter).

One person who has suggested that Steve Wright might actually be more of a subversive than you'd expect is Richard Easter, his radio sidekick for many years, who was responsible for a vast number of the comedy characters and musical sketches which littered his Radio One show. Easter's work-rate was actually phenomenal. Whereas most comedy writers will tend to focus their efforts on material for a couple of radio or television series a year, he rapidly contributed a lot of work to Wright's radio show five days a week, continually bearing the broad Radio One audience in mind. As such, it's not surprising that characters like Dr. Fish Filliter or Arnie Terminator's angry consumer complaints aren't necessarily award-winning or groundbreaking material, but all were short, sharp, absurd, almost always utterly silly and occasionally unexpectedly close to the (fish) bone. As comedic contributions to a mainstream radio show go, they were far more successful than most attempts at the time, and helped to keep Wright's ratings buoyant and people like me listening.

Easter was also a keen writer of catchy novelty ditties, which saw him score a bona-fide major hit through Epic Records with Arnee and the Terminators "I'll Be Back" (penned in two hours and apparently never intended for commercial release, though it seems to have inadvertently invented the sound of Scooter). Doubtless other major labels were keen to capture the lightning success of that unlikely hit, and Mercury obviously felt his satirical melodic musings on the tedium of car boot sales - repeated at extremely regular intervals throughout Steve Wright's show - would be the next top ten smash in line.

14 October 2018

Worth - Let's Go Back To Yesterday/ Let Me Be

Sweeping orchestral pop from Norm Bellis under a group name

Label: CBS
Year of Release: 1971

Following The Love Affair's success in 1967 with the (actually incredibly good) "Everlasting Love", record labels seemed to sense that there was clearly a cash cow to be milked. Stuff psychedelia, prog rock, funk, reggae and all that jazz. Platinum discs seemed more likely to fall at your feet if you just picked a catchy pop song, put an epic, sweeping, pounding orchestra behind a powerful vocalist, and gave the project a group name. 

This wasn't a foolproof hit-making method, though, and quite a number of singles fell completely short of the Top 40. Long-standing act Worth - not a group, so far as I can ascertain, but the work of pop scene and Apple Music stalwart Norm Bellis - had five attempts to bite the chart cherry between 1970-73, and failed on each occasion, although his fourth flipside "Hey Mister Lonely" apparently picked up some attention outside the UK.

10 October 2018

Reupload - Starlings - Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)/ Typhoons - Little Red Rooster

Powerful and surprisingly brilliant cover of the girl-group classic on the budget Woolies label

Label: Embassy
Year of Release: 1964

We've encountered the Embassy label on "Left and to the Back" before, of course. (YesWe have). It was the label John Lennon referred to in a moment of despondency, jokingly commenting that even they had rejected The Beatles. Pressing up cheap sound-a-like discs for the cash-strapped or just plain unfussy, they were responsible for some truly awful howlers in their time. Just listen to this appalling caterwauling take on "Wimoweh" if you don't believe me, or this underpowered take on The Beatles themselves. 

Occasionally, though, Embassy did turn up trumps, and it's to the credit of the session musicians they hired when things did go to plan. Frequently thrown in at the deep end, given next-to-no time to learn the songs and even less time than that to record them (usually a few takes at most) when these discs sound good, they sound good under the most pressured and unlikely of circumstances. 

So then, if you were pop-picking in Woolworths in 1964, this record would actually have been a rather good buy. The version of "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)" is a staggeringly effective take on the girl group classic. Joan Baxter handles the lead vocals and positively nails the yearning qualities of the song - so much so that this actually becomes a perfectly strong alternative version rather than just a cheap substitute for the real thing. This isn't some kind of dilute-to-taste ageing session muso's take on teenage heartbreak, there's genuine power and a certain innocence behind the performance, piercing right through everything else. 

7 October 2018

The Pickwicks - Apple Blossom Time/ I Don't Want To Tell You Again

Debut Beat Pop effort from eccentrically garbed Coventry bunch

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1964

We've already covered The Pickwicks once on "Left and to the Back" when we took a look at their uptempo, searing garagey efforts "Little By Little" and their cover of Ray Davies' "I Took My Baby Home". 

Their debut release "Apple Blossom Time" was somewhat more conventional by comparison, being a more controlled and less frisky beat offering. It's an odd track for a sixties band to be covering, being penned in the twenties then performed by all manner of pre-rock and roll stars including The Andrews Sisters, Vera Lynn, Nat King Cole and Artie Shaw.  Its romantic imagery and sweet-natured lyrics seem rather tame and decidedly un-teen, but the group do inject it with a certain oomph and even add some squeaky keyboards which make it feel as if it indirectly invented Lipps Inc's "Funky Town". 

3 October 2018

The Endevers - Sunny And Me/ I Really Hope You Do

Bouyant, optimistic, orchestrated pop song from the 60s beat merchants

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1969

The irritatingly named Endevers have had their meatier, beatier moments slipped on to a couple of sixties rarity compilations lately, with their debut single "Taking Care of Myself" popping up on "Beatfreak" and "She's My Girl" being the opening track on volume 4 of "New Rubble". This, their final single, has yet to be given another outing.

That's possibly because unlike the two stormers that preceded it, "Sunny and Me" is a fluffy piece of sunshine pop, filled to the brim with feelgood arrangements and hopeful lyrics. It's actually a version of a Farrell and Romeo penned track which originally landed (equally unsuccessfully) in the laps of country poppers Douglas Good and Ginny Plenty the year before, and the arrangement doesn't take any radical steps away from that flop record. The vocals here are much more confident and punchy, though, and so for my money it's the better version.

30 September 2018

The Atlantics - Don't Say No/ Send Him To Me

Super obscure slice of 60s girl pop

Label: Windsor
Year of Release: 1964

Another puzzling record which poses as many questions as answers, I'm sorry to say. According to the Manchester Beat website, The Atlantics on this record formed in 1962 and hailed from Blackpool, consisting of Chris Riley on rhythm guitar, Michael Stephens on bass, Frank Blackburn on lead guitar, and Ronnie "Lee" Brambles on drums. Ordinarily I would have absolutely no reason to doubt the information of a well-run site, but there's one snag. There are clearly at least two women singing on this record, one of whom is taking the lead. Either this is not the same group after all, or they underwent a temporary and short-lived line-up change at the record label's behest, or for other unknown reasons.

Whatever the facts, this is actually a rather nice chunk of sixties girl group action, a little rough and ready in places - something which surely isn't helped by the mere "VG" quality of the copy I own - but swinging, beaty and punchy. It's also notable for the production involvement of Peter Stirling, later known as Daniel Boone, a member of the beat group The Bruisers and regular "Left and to the Back" guest.

26 September 2018

Reupload - The Charades - Hammers and Sickles/ Left Wing Bird

Bizarre and faintly hysterical anti-Communist and anti-Socialist folk.  

Label: Monument
Year of Release: 1966

The Cold War is responsible for producing some very interesting pop music. The eighties thrived on it, and even if it wasn't often explicitly mentioned in songs and videos, its looming shadow could be felt within the chilly production and bombastic arrangements. And similarly, back in the sixties the folk movement would have been less abrasive and packed less of an urgent, defiant punch had it not been for two giant opposing countries with piles of idealism (the romanticism of common ownership versus the powerful idea of capitalism being a conduit for meritocracy and enabling Freedom). Expressed in such simplistic terms, it was pure propaganda on both sides, of course - left without the right checks and balances and existing in a pure, unchallenged form, any system will eventually go to rot.

This single turned up in a job lot auction recently, and is odd to say the least. Divorced of its original context, it sounds like a faintly futile gesture. The A-side "Hammers and Sickles" sounds bizarrely hysterical, like the last ever Capitalist campfire singalong in defiance of the advancing Red Army. The lyrics seem to be suggesting that Communists were encouraging children to play with the Little Red Book rather than "crayons". "I like walking through fields of flowers knowing that I can own it all" the band also declare haughtily, which if you want to interpret it literally seems to suggest that a slice of American soil can eventually be anyone's if they earn it - something which still doesn't apply to any public land so far as I'm aware. You can walk back and forth across Yellowstone Park on some sort of sponsored anti-Commiethon until you collapse, The Charades, you're still not going to win the opportunity to buy it one day.

23 September 2018

Paul Brett - Mr. Custer/ Goodtimes, Hardtimes

Bouncy, chirpy single with faint popsike leanings from Fulham guitar ace

Label: Bradleys
Year of Release: 1973

Well, I certainly wasn't expecting to find this one for £1 in Oxfam. Paul Brett was something of a shadowy, wandering figure throughout the sixties and seventies, adding his guitar riffage to all manner of cult groups. Among his more notable achievements are stints or session work with Fire, The Overlanders, The Strawbs, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the undervalued Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, and Tintern Abbey. If that weren't enough, he also sessioned for Al Stewart and Roy Harper.

Among heavy, deep digging aficionados of folk rock, he's probably best known for his work under the group name of Paul Brett's Sage who issued an eponymous debut LP on Pye in 1970 and follow ups "Jubilation Foundry" and "Schizophrenia" on their progressive imprint Dawn across the two following years.

After those three records were issued to only minor public interest, Brett disbanded his merry Sages and set off by himself, going on to become one of the first artists to be signed to ATV Music's newly launched Bradleys label in '73. The earliest singles released on this label are examples of corporate vanity at its absolute apex, with a special picture sleeve dedicated to the label and its "Mr Bradley" character rather than the artists in question. Who the moustachioed and bubbly Mr Bradley was based on, and why he ran a hotel on the picture sleeves, are questions whose answers have been lost to the mists of time. It's safe to bet that they also weren't very clear to ordinary punters who didn't read Music Week or internal record industry memos in 1973, who must have been confused by the appearance of identical picture sleeves housing completely different records by different artists.

20 September 2018

Tiger - Shining In The Wood/ Where's The Love?

Fantastic, frequently overlooked abrasive nineties art-pop 

Label: Fierce Panda
Year of Release: 1996

By 1996, when both music critics and record company A&R people began to realise that Britpop was looking tired, there was much head-scratching about where British alternative rock could go next. It was pretty clear that if the public were to remain interested, either a stylistic shift had to happen among the big players, or a new wave of noise had to sweep in.

As it happens, both things occurred. While Oasis were content to continue much as before, Blur and Pulp began to branch off and take different and somewhat more difficult winding paths, and waiting in the wings were also a veritable shit-ton of eccentric, arty or just downright trashy and punky dinmakers.  Bis had the cute teenage looks and angular pop tunes by the bucketload, Kenickie a rawer, earthier, wittier edge, Urusei Yatsura the discords and power, and Tiger the... er, well, it's hard to quite summarise where Tiger were coming from in a couple of words.

Borrowing droning analogue keyboard sounds from Stereolab, the scattershot lyricisms of post-punk, the anthemic choruses of Britpop and the screeching madness of Sonic Youth and Pixies, Tiger were only ever going to sound like a barnful of suburban oddballs, and it's truly astonishing to realise that they actually picked up radio airplay and mainstream television appearances in the nineties. In virtually no other period of British music history would this have been allowed.

16 September 2018

Symbols - Blackbird/ Great Swamp Symphony

Mike Post produced Soul/ gospel reworking of The Beatles track

Label: Bell
Year of Release: 1971

Just when you think you've been made aware of all the one-single wonder groups whose sole effort was a Beatles cover, another rears its head. Sometimes it's like one big game of whack-a-mole where all the rodents are wearing Woolworths Beatle wigs.

Soul and reggae covers of Beatles tracks are by no means uncommon, and "Blackbird" should perhaps be considered one of the most appropriate choices for politically minded groups during the sixties and seventies. Apparently written by McCartney partly in response to the black civil rights struggle in America, "Blackbird" may act as a discreet, delicate, folksy moment on "The White Album", but its background message had a far greater power potentially waiting to be amplified. 

This clearly wasn't lost on The Symbols (or the ska group The Paragons in 1973) who deliver a much punchier, less subtle version of the song here. Gospel vocals holler "Fly blackbird fly!" at regular intervals while the arrangement of McCartney's original finger-plucked version is swamped by strings and roaring vocal harmonies. It's transformed from a plaintive and pretty tune into a sweeping, panoramic piece, like something you would expect to hear in the concluding dramatic moments of a motion picture. 

12 September 2018

Reupload - Fireball - Bachanalia/ I Dunno

Glammish instrumental courtesy of Spark Records session God Graham Preskett

Label: Spark
Year of Release: 1973

Do you remember that not too many entries ago we were talking about Graham Preskett, who recorded a pretty neat version of "Mellow Yellow" (backed with an equally superb version of "Disney Girls") for Spark Records? Well, it was by no means a one-off. Like many of the session musos who hung around the Spark stable, Preskett had his fingers in a number of their releases, and this is one such obscurity.

If you were being somewhat cynical, you could argue that "Bachanalia" was a cash-in on ELO's advances in orchestrated pomp rock, but it's not clear that this is where the main influence is from. Snappy, lively and with considerably more billy whizz in its bones than most of Lynne's releases, "Bachanalia" is hard to place anywhere. Clearly partly intended for the dancefloor and having a slight (and admittedly only slight) glam rock crunch about it, it's a likeable but peculiar anomaly, an aural tonic that gets the foot tapping but is hard to imagine being a huge hit.

9 September 2018

Tim Easley - Susie Q (Parts One and Two)

Obscure take on the Dale Hawkins Rock and Roll standard

Label: Bell
Year of Release: 1968

Another mystery record to add to the never-ending pile. I bought this record almost exactly a year ago with the expectation that if I did enough research on it something useful would eventually come to light, but so far, there's been nada - just the vague suggestion that Tim Easley is a pseudonym for another recording artist.

The rockabilly song itself was written and originally performed by Dale Hawkins, who also produces this version, and reached the Billboard Hot 100 on its original release in 1957. It was then subsequently picked up by The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival, the latter of whom reached number 11 with it in the USA in 1968, a few months before this single emerged. Whether Hawkins or the mysterious Easley figure were expecting to get a second wind of success from CCR's version is unclear, but the fact that it was seemingly only released by Bell in France and the UK - where CCR had considerably less impact - indicates that the label didn't fancy its chances Stateside. 

5 September 2018

To Heaven A Jet/ Revox Cadets - Airfields/ Tony Goes To Tokyo (and rides the bullet train)

Mystery synth-pop with heavy Bill Nelson involvement

Label: Cocteau
Year of Release: 1981

What a peculiar release. Bill Nelson is something of a cult figure in Britain, producing major progressive/ art-rock work with Be Bop Deluxe and later Bill Nelson's Red Noise. Hailed by artists as diverse as David Sylvian, Andy Partridge and Gary Numan, Nelson arguably hasn't really had the full credit he's been due for influencing the direction of modern pop and rock. Seldom ever on the radio, and generally ignored by the kinds of major magazines who run retrospectives on classic rock artists, he's one of those seventies artists whose run of success was too modest to place him in the mainstream, and too big to cause anyone to trumpet his virtues as a "lost artist".

By 1980, he had run into a dispute with Harvest Records about his Red Noise project, and subsequently made arrangements with them to begin a new career on his own Cocteau Records label. Far from using it as a vanity press for his own output, Nelson also released a number of records by other artists. While some of these will be familiar to most readers, and Nelson was astute enough to release early records by A Flock Of Seagulls and Fiat Lux, it was also home to some very strange records like this one.

2 September 2018

Telephone Bill & The Smooth Operators - Cruisin'/ Pinball Wizard

Bluegrass cover of The Who classic. There's something you don't hear everyday.

Label: Weekend
Year of Release: 1977

I'm sure I've mentioned it on here before - good God almighty, I've written over a thousand blog entries on here in the last ten years, you can't expect me to be Captain Originality all the time - but the mid-seventies were a weird gold-rush period for musicians on the light entertainment circuit. Any musical act whose innovative or thoughtful routines regularly featured on shows like "Pebble Mill" or "New Faces" tended to get a record contract, even if only for a few singles. Very few managed hits, but the seven inch single boxes of charity shops the length and breadth of the land are filled with the kind of acts who appeared on programmes like "Hi Summer" or were frequent interlude acts on mid-table chat shows.

Labels like York, run by Yorkshire Television, and Weekend, owned by LWT, tended to showcase these people as well, and while neither are great labels for prog, psychedelia or proto-punk, they do showcase some reasonably unusual things. Telephone Bill & The Smooth Operators are, it's fair to say, not a completely run-of-the-mill act. Performing a blend of folk, country and swing, their songs could whoosh past in the blink of the eye and the blurring of fingers on the fretboard. Such family-friendly energy caused them to be frequent guests on television and radio as well as tireless workhorses of the national folk circuit.

29 August 2018

Reupload - Help - Run Away/ Keep In Touch

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1971

Consisting of members Chet McCracken on vocals and drums, Jack Merrill on vocals and guitar, Rob Rochan on vocals, bass and percussion, Help were a country rock outfit from California who fell through the cracks in the early seventies.

"Run Away" has become a much-referenced single online since those days, and it's easy to hear why. Released in 1971 it may have been, but there's a raw garage roughness to some of the guitar work, combined with some mean and lean "licks" - this is searing riffage without too much fat on the bones, and quite atypical of most of their debut album "Help" which overall tended to be rather more laid-back in tone. 

26 August 2018

Peter Law - The Long Black Veil/ You'll Never Get The Chance Again

Stormer on the B-side - rather dull over-long Tom Jones styled ballad on the A-side

Label: Major Minor
Year of Release: 1968

Major Minor is a fascinating little label if you're an idle collector - with an output varying from folk whimsy to easy listening to psychedelia and full-on rock, picking up a little known record with their logo on it is a bit like taking a dip into a bag of Revels. It could be a delicious toffee or a rather unpleasantly powdery orange "surprise".

Lo and behold, just to confuse things, this single manages to be a bit of both. The A-side here is a tedious Tom Jones styled version of the country standard "Long Black Veil" which lacks any kind of emotional punch.

Nestling on the flip, though, is Law's own composition (in collaboration with one Tommy Scott) "You'll Never Get The Chance Again", which is a lovely stormer. Infamously, The Grumbleweeds recorded this first as the flipside to their awful single "Goodbye", and there are some aficionados out there who consider that to be the definitive version. Nonsense, says I. This take is hard, sharp, has a nice clattering guitar high in the mix, and gives the track a dancefloor urgency, whereas The Grumbleweeds take a lighter and slightly more showy approach. A lost Northern Soul dancer? Maybe.

22 August 2018

Offered With Very Little Comment #4 - The Whales, Nick and Nichola, Laura, Sheila Scot

Some regular readers will be aware of the fact that from time to time, I throw a whole batch of singles up on to this blog in one swoop while writing very little about them.

This is usually for one of a few very simple reasons:

  • I know virtually nothing about the artist(s) in question
  • I have very little to say about the music
  • The record in question didn't really seem to me to warrant a lot of dissection. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes things just are what they are. 

So then, with no apologies offered for the lack of background reading, and with no expectations raised, please see the latest batch behind the link. Some of these are really very obscure and there's a chance you'll have been keeping one eye open for a copy.

19 August 2018

Introducing The Exciting Stereo Sound Of Franck Pourcel (EP)

Whizzing, squealing analogue synths meet Easy Listening 

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1967

This EP has been causing a bit of fuss online of late, primarily for featuring one of the most unexpectedly strange cover versions in Easy Listening land. That track, the squealing, oscillating, analogue synth infested cover of "Days of Pearly Spencer", is indeed an exciting stereo sound - like something you would hear at a firework party while drunk on scrumpy and high on LSD simultaneously, or the sort of noise Number 6 might have heard at a cocktail party in "The Prisoner" at which he was injected with something that made him a bit woozy. This, folks, shows just how weird even the most middle-of-the-road offerings could be in the late sixties.

While "Pearly Spencer" here is clearly intended to demonstrate the wonders of music heard through a good stereo system, with its ambitious arrangement and hi-tech (for the time) instrumentation, the rest of this EP is comparatively run-of-the-mill in terms of its ambition. Pourcel's attention to detail with the arrangements is wonderful, but they won't slap you in the face with quite the same force as the first track.

15 August 2018

Reupload - Brotherly Lovers - If You Need A Love Song/ Our Favorite Hill

Rough and ready garage ballad from New York

Label: eskee
Year of Release: 1966

Brotherly Lovers are responsible for a garage track called "Was A Lie" which has been talked about enthusiastically online for awhile now. Rough and imperfect, it sounds as if was recorded for a few cents, and even they were probably fed into the electricity meter just to keep the session going.  Like so much of its ilk, though, it possesses a charm that some contemporary hits of the time lacked.

Far less has been written about its follow-up "If You Need A Love Song", despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that this seems to be the release where Brotherly Lovers had smoothed off some of the rough edges. Sounding less buzzsaw and agitated in approach and more akin to an aspiring folk-rock group, it showcases gentle vocal harmonies and a slightly melancholy but jingle-jangle melody. Still, though, there's a brittleness and punkish naiveté to the delivery which clearly indicates that this is still a low-budget affair, like a DIY eighties indie take on The Byrds as opposed to the polished Columbia Records deal.

12 August 2018

Tony Washington - Crying Man/ Please Mr. DJ

Island ska songwriter with a neat piece of mid-tempo soul

Label: React
Year of Release: 1965

The name Tony Washington may not seem immediately familiar, but he is believed to have played piano on the historic, ground-breaking recording of "My Boy Lollipop" by Millie, and also wrote the single's B-side "Something's Gotta Be Done".  Arriving from Jamaica in the early sixties, he found an early champion in Chris Blackwell who, besides the Millie gig, cut some of his own singles on Island and also the label's Black Swan and Sue subsidiaries. 

Unfortunately, unlike Millie his solo ska material never really came close to breaking into the mainstream, and most of his singles are incredibly scarce these days. He attempted some non-ska releases too, such as the track "Sunday" in 1963 which was aimed more at the pop market, but even these went nowhere.

Given the fact that "Crying Man" found its home on the tiny independent label React, it's arguably one of his more obscure and poor-selling efforts. Like "Sunday", though, it falls back on a conventional structure, this time a jogging soul sound. You could almost describe it as a Northern Soul sound, but it arguably lacks the tempo or the emotional delivery; Washington's vocals in places sound oddly cheery given the rather glum break-up the lyrics portray. Nonetheless, it's a solid performance and a highly likeable record. 

8 August 2018

52nd Precinct - Time Is Tight/ Feel It

Vast, ever-evolving library track featuring fuzz guitars and flutes. Nice!

Label: Dart
Year of Release: 1973

Now here's a treat. This appears to be a different treatment of Simon Park's track "Precinct" (issued under the name Simon Haseley) on the DeWolfe LP "Hogan, The Hawk and Dirty John Crown". 

Clocking in at four-and-a-half minutes long, a fuzz guitar introduces the proceedings before the track slowly unveils puffing flutes, groovy beats, and foreboding brass lines. Slinky, sleek and atmospheric, it's a complex and genuinely lovely bit of work which is clearly inspired partly by Isaac Hayes' soundtrack to "Shaft".

If it sounds halfway familiar, that's because elements of it have been used in soundtracks - even recently, "Bargain Hunt" has apparently utilised its charms during an episode (Yes, I know).

5 August 2018

The Almond Lettuce - Tree Dog Song/ To Henry With Hope

Bouncy but marginally deranged popsike from this mystery band

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1968

Arguing about what constitutes a "psychedelic" record has been an intense political debate for collectors for decades now. People the length and breadth of the country have screamed and shouted at each other in pubs demanding to know what exactly is so "way out" about the contents of some of the "Rubble" series. Why, I even have a scar on my forehead from the time someone angrily threw a copy of Barnaby Rudge's "Joe Organ & Co" at me, yelling the words "You couldn't listen to that while taking a trip, you moron, it sounds like a third-rate sixties Bowie out-take" (Some of the above may be lies).

I'm using the word "psychedelic" to describe this record advisedly, then. It's hardly "See Emily Play", but then again... both sides are infused with a pie-eyed, child-like worldview, and arrangements which are prone to sharp diversions. "Tree Dog Song" on the A-side has one of the worst and most irritatingly child-like intros in the world, but gradually settles down into sounding like The Kinks at their most skewiff and countrified singing about God knows what. 

The B-side is the real winner for me here, though, delivering absurd lyrics about domestic failures and marital break-up over a melancholy organ sound and insistent, minimal, chiming guitar line. "Oh Henry... I know that the rhubarb pie was under-done/ and your cricket pads were stained with eggy juice" the singer explains, and it's hard not to empathise. Henry sounds like a monster. The song also has a McCartney-esque bounce to it which is compelling.