23 May 2021

Funky Bottom Congregation - Hara Krishna/ Things About Yourself

Paul Nicholas and his boys with a genuinely great psych dancer

Label: Beacon
Year of Release: 1969

Paul Nicholas is probably best known in the UK for two things - his run of light pop hits in the seventies, including "Grandma's Reggae Party" (who could forget?) and his role as Vince Pinner in the romantic sitcom "Just Good Friends". Anyone who can't hear Nicholas' soft voice saying "Sorry Pen" in their heads at the mere mention of the show clearly wasn't among the tens of millions who tuned in avidly at the time.

For all that, though, Nicholas' music career had fairly credible beginnings, not quite being underground, but certainly sitting on the giddier side of pop. He took on David Bowie's "Over The Wall We Go" under the name of Oscar while signed to Track Records, and recorded the snappy, Eastern flavoured drone of "Lamplighter" while on Polydor. The latter in particular began to be spun at sixties nights in the noughties, though seems to have largely disappeared off the menu for the time being.

His career also received an enormous boost while he was a performer in the musical "Hair", and that's essentially where we're arriving for this single. The A-side is a track from the musical performed faithfully but is a rather dull four minutes to my ears - a nice souvenir of the theatre experience if you attended, I expect, but it couldn't sound less like a chart hit (or an exciting leftfield experience) if it tried.

All the fun is nestling on the flip, as it often is on Nicholas's records. "Things About Yourself" is a piece of psychedelic pop with a bouncy arrangement, vocal phasing, brassy fanfares and a decidedly paisley pop feel. It's also utterly ace, feeling like The Small Faces at their most wigged out or, to draw a more obscure comparison, those other Beacon signings The Sound Barrier. "Went out to the butchers and came back and had a joint/ and why nooo-oooo-t?" sings Nicholas, the silly scamp, trying to slip in a gratuitous drug reference even though the song was on the B-side and he could be as blatant as he wanted. Whatever would Pen have said? ("You're a rat, Vince" probably.)

The rest of the Funky Bottom Congregation consisted of ex-Tornados bass player Ray Randall, with Robert Lemon on guitar and Dave Gibbons on drums. Inevitably this record didn't lead to a long career for the Congregation of Funky Bottoms (who I assume were referring to the musical term "funky" rather than suggesting their arses stank) and this was very much a one-off record for them all. Paul Nicholas would go on to huge success in due course, though. 

If the previews below aren't working for you properly, please go right to the source.


albert1946 said...

Superb David

Many thanks, Albert

rntcj said...


Thanx for this one. A "new" artist = "new" hears here. Living across the pond have no clue as to what you discuss @ beginning... Discogs has a Paul Nicholas & a separate page for Funky Bottom Congregation but no mention that Paul Nicholas was in this band. Listening to his YT tracks = his 70's UK Hits & they all sound fairly similar to each other.
Recognize "Heaven On The 7th Floor" (1050 CHUM AM radio here in 70's) but had/have no idea it was Paul Nicholas.

Ciao! For now.

Michael Alden said...

The only thing he's known for in the US is his one-hit wonder, Heaven on the Seventh Floor. I don't believe anything else ever made a dent here or even was released.