19 July 2020

Erehwon - The Hero (I Might Have Been)/ Tiny Goddess

Godfathers of British Psychedelia decide to go New Wave - what you hear might really surprise you!!!

Label: Harvest
Year of Release: 1980

While most of the non-first division sixties groups focused on the nostalgia circuit to earn their crust when the decade ended, a few tried to move with the times to varying degrees of success. Perhaps one of the most successful were The Easybeats, who renamed themselves Flash and The Pan and bothered global hit parades with wigged-out New Wave styled tracks with Knopfler-esque vocals, such as "Down Among The Dead Men" and "Waiting For A Train". 

Were Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos of Nirvana (the British psychedelic group, not the nineties grunge one, obviously) closely watching the activities of their antipodean friends closely, pencils and bookie's notepads in hand? If so, they've never said, but this one-off single under the name Erehwon certainly seems as if they were hoping for similar trojan horse action.

The A-side here is so far away from Nirvana's usual style it's actually genuinely astonishing. "The Hero" isn't just New Wave in its stylings, it also shows an art-school leaning that their sixties records perhaps never went overboard on. The droning synth rumbles and pulsing bass patterns of the track recall Gary Numan and eighties Wire far more than they do the light and airy world of their past. So dark and moody is the single that it sounds more like an album track than something which had any rightful place in the charts, but it's such an impressive shift away from the group's norm that I can only look on aghast. Very few groups can shift genres as convincingly and as successfully as this.

The track later re-emerged on Campbell-Lyons' solo LP of the same name in 1982, alongside tracks like the bafflingly titled "Naked Robots Watching Breakfast Television".

More absurdly still, Nirvana opted to cover themselves on the B-side of this single, taking the somewhat popular psychedelic pop track "Tiny Goddess" and ripping it a clinical eighties hole. This is considerably less successful, despite underlining their adaptability again - "Tiny Goddess" can only be a whimsical, overblown piece of mid-summer fairy goddess balladry, and it can't survive the leap into 1980 without its cellophane wings being ripped to shreds. It's certainly an interesting exercise, though.

If all the above seems a bit baffling, regular readers might recall that Campbell-Lyons had shown himself to be an adaptable cove by this point already, penning the theme tune to the children's television show "Cloppa Castle", which we've covered on this blog. He continues to write and record new material to his small but loyal fanbase, with the 2017 album "You're A Cloud, I'm A Comet" being the most recent release.

Can't view the previews below? Go right to the source by following this link. 


Arthur Nibble said...

I reckon the early lyric mentioning a virgin nixed radio plays and, as you probably realise, the group's name is Nowhere spelt backwards.

23 Daves said...

I don't think it sounds poppy enough to be a hit, even by the fairly tolerant standards of the early eighties (also doubt EMI really put much effort into plugging it). And yes, I worked out the Nowhere thing.

Fanny Blancmange said...

Thanks. Interesting and impressive that they were able and willing to convincingly(?) clamber onto a quite different bandwagon after so long out of the game.

Even more surprised that Harvest was still a going concern in 1980.

23 Daves said...

It carried on until the mid-80s I think, continuing to issue Pink Floyd, Scorpions and other slightly more "random" stuff. There was a one-off Medicine Head single in 1980 as well which was slightly less artistically successful.

Arthur Nibble said...

According to 45cat, Harvest continued until 1991. There were then two singles released (Deep Purple, and Syd Barrett) in 2011, and aan indie band called Best Coast released a one-off vanity single (similar to Morrissey reviving Major Minor etc.) on Harvest in 2016.