26 September 2011

Reupload - The Hush - Elephant Rider/ Grey

Label: Fontana
Year of Issue: 1968

There are some cheery music industry optimists out there who believe that every band will eventually get the success they deserve, and if they don't, they've clearly approached something from the wrong angle. "Talent will out," as Freddie Mercury used to camply trill to anyone who was listening (and lest we forget, he suffered a few disappointments of his own before Queen made it).

On the other, shadier side of the room, however, stand people like me who think that whilst there's a grain of truth to the belief that talent is always recognised in the end, there are also other factors to consider. There's record companies, of course. We should never, ever, underestimate the power of record companies to make the wrong decision at the wrong time. Ask Bob Geldof what he thought of his American record company's plan to send stuffed rodents to radio stations to promote the Boomtown Rats. As a stunt, it turned more stomachs than it ever turned any dials on to heavy rotation. Then again, record companies are frequently known for promoting the right people in the wrong way, or signing the right bands and releasing the wrong tracks. And that's the focus of this entry.

Here we have two sides that sound absolutely nothing like each other. "Elephant Rider" sounds as if it could be a failed Song for Europe entry with its childish chorus and cheery noises, whereas "Grey" is actually a harsh, heavy, very garagey piece of work, messy and stormy in all the best ways. "One day I'll die, leave things behind..." the lead vocalist announces at the beginning of the track, to the single, pounding metronomic beat of a snare drum. "But that's just one thing on my mind," he then snarls as some demonic, punky guitars come behind. The chorus just builds, a single whining note being struck again and again as the vocals peak into panicked ranting. It's a total garage punk classic, and whilst I can understand how Fontana got jittery about its commercial potential, to bury this away on a B-side is nothing short of criminal.

As for whether The Hush approved of their decision or not, I'm afraid I couldn't say. This was the only single they were ever able to release, so unless some dusty tapes turn up somewhere soon, we'll never know if they had more tracks like "Grey" to offer. Nobody has ever been able to successfully trace them either, despite their single regularly going for hundreds of pounds at auctions (the copy photographed above is a bootlegged facsimile copy I purchased at a more regular price). If any of them ever happen to read this entry, though, they should certainly get in touch...

(This blog entry was originally posted in May 2008, and get in touch they did! Firstly the drummer Mac Poole dropped me a line to say that they were an act he put together at Luxembourg Studios in London, and they were managed by Doug Perry, the same man who later went on to manage the snooker champion Alex Higgins.
Their keyboard player Peter "Twiggy" Wood later went on to join The Sutherland Brothers, whereas vocalist Chris Anslow now works on the cabaret circuit.
Another anonymous commenter also pointed out that the band clearly had a fan in Lou Barlow, who had very clearly sampled the riff from "Grey" to use for Sebadoh's single "The Flame".
Now, if only it was as easy to gather as much information as this for the numerous other entries about bands who have long since disappeared off the face of the Earth...)


Anonymous said...

The Insomniacs did a great cover of Grey back in the 90's.

Anonymous said...

they did indeed record acetates on 6/10/66 both of magic words and the jerk as i have the pair

23 Daves said...

That's exciting! It would be really interesting to hear those at some point.

winston smith said...

Long Shot I Know But Any Chance Of A Reup Of Elephant Rider ?