17 August 2016

The Sundowners - Dr. J. Wallace-Browne/ Love Is In The Air

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1968

This single was recommended to me by a 45Cat Forum user as being "one of the weirdest A-sides ever released".  I would have happily snapped up a copy even if somebody claimed that it was one of the weirdest singles of the late sixties period - that era saw endless gambles and risks being taken by panicking record labels who weren't sure which way the wind was turning or what kind of weird shit "the kids" were presently into. But ever? Here, have my bank account details and take as much money as you want, sir.

In reality, it's not actually as off the wall as I'd hoped, but it's still pretty damn unusual. What The Sundowners appear to be trying to produce here is the kind of warped music hall inspired pop much beloved of the psychedelic period, and where they actually land is somewhere between The Scaffold and The Kinks at their most deranged. The band begin by singing about "Dr J. Wallace-Browne's confidence capsules" which "pick you up when you're down" (How very nineties of them - Prozac hadn't even been invented yet!) then eventually the entire track breaks down into the kind of brass-led pub tra-la-laing session much beloved during album interludes by Blur during "Modern Life Is Rubbish" and "Parklife". How anyone thought this would be a hit at the time is a 24 carat mystery, and copies are actually staggeringly hard to come across, which would seem to suggest that it wasn't a remotely popular purchase at the time.

To add to the bafflement, the flipside "Love Is In The Air" is very straightforward sunshine pop, which makes me wonder if there was some kind of mistake at the pressing plant and it was supposed to be the A side. 

We've already talked about The Sundowners once before on this blog, of course - here we talk about the less perplexing, but still rather unusual, "Gloria Bosom Show". You can get a bit more information about the history of the band in that entry. 


radioman01 said...

I wonder if they actually wanted to sing about J Collis Browne ( the inventor of chlorodyne), but changed it for copyright reasons (cf. cherry cola, etc) ?

23 Daves said...

Good point! I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me....

And naturally, chlorodyne is an opiate, so they would be hinting towards something slightly druggy if they took that direct approach.

albert1946 said...

Thank you for this single, the only single on Columbia label

Greetings Albert

Basa said...

Hi, I own up to being the singer on Dr J Collis Brown and it was sung through a megaphone.
Basically The Sundowners were a close harmony folk band, not unlike The Kingston Trio.
We were green and naive and picked up by EMI and a management company. They chose the A-side songs to record and gave us the opportunity
to select or write our own B sides. I said to my daughter who discovered your blog that perhaps the record failed to make any impact because the deep bass notes would not reproduce on the average tinny radio and could not be understood. A very weird record for a serious collector!.
Just to put the record straight - we were not a Scottish band, but a London based group. I thought that the cod-cockney accent on the record is a sure giveaway.