24 April 2009

Australian Playboys - Black Sheep RIP (b/w "Sad")


Label: Immediate
Year of Release: 1967

Firstly, it's confession time. No, I don't own this on vinyl - I freely admit that both the A and B side here is presented for your pleasure courtesy of two different compilation appearances, and whilst that means this upload is not especially authentic, it does mean that you get to hear the tunes in tip-top condition.

"Black Sheep R.I.P" is quite simply one of the odder singles of 1967, which is saying something for a year which kindly gave us gnomes named Grimble Grumble and sixteen vestal virgins leaving for the coast, and all number of other bits of psychedelic inspired whimsy. Perhaps taking their cues from the childlike lyricism prevalent throughout this particular era, the Australian act The Playboys (rebranded The Australian Playboys for the British market to avoid confusion with an existing English outfit) launched this particular record as their European trial balloon. To all intents and purposes it's a technicoloured pop freakout version of the children's nursery rhyme, complete with curious but invigorating instrumental passages, nagging vocals ("Do you have, do you have, do you have, do you have, YES I HAVE!" the band trill absurdly) and the surprising thing is it's actually pretty damn good. Naturally, it wasn't a hit in Britain and the band were never given another chance to break these shores, but they deserve top marks for coming up with such a ludicrous idea in the first place and then actually making it work.

The B-side "Sad" is featured on the "Nuggets II" box set and isn't as interesting, but still screams "Summer '67" in your ears, despite its rather downbeat tones. To my mind (and perhaps my mind alone) a less elaborate version of "Sad" could easily have been taken on by The Jesus and Mary Chain in their early days - it has the same doomed but innocent air.

For all the worth of both sides on offer here, the band seemingly knew luck wasn't on their side in the UK, and had pissed off back to Australia by the end of 1967 to form Procession. This leaves them on the very long list of sixties bands who moved to these shores to crack the British market and found themselves ignored - although one can't envy any band the job of rivalling the homegrown acts of this particular era.

Download it here

No comments: