27 September 2023

Mandarin Kraze - See You In September/ Susie


Future member of The Records with smooth harmony pop effort

Label: Spark
Year of Release: 1973

While the volume of press dedicated to them would barely outweigh a stray pigeon feather, Southend's Mandarin Kraze were a constant presence on the early seventies gig circuit, which empowered them enough to label hop from one vinyl home to the next. Their first single "How Long Does It Take To Explain" emerged on Carnaby in 1970, with the follow up "Blink Bonny Bluabara" landing on President in 1971 and this final effort creeping on to Spark in 1973.  Clearly the independent labels of the early seventies, such as they were, were willing to invest in the group even if the likes of EMI and Decca couldn't have given a toss.

Their records are quite hard to track down these days, though. The President and Carnaby discs have been on my wants list for awhile, not least for the flipside "Magazine Cottage" which is popsike to its bones.  It's a bit of a red herring, as the group generally specialised in gentle harmony pop, the kind of airy melodies which tended to litter the world of seventies light entertainment, but despite their obvious compatibility with the mainstream, the group and the pop charts never really met. 

"See You In September" is a cover of an oldie which seems to position them slightly towards the Bay City Rollers end of things, with cute teenage soda pop romance lyrics meeting teary-eyed delivery. The flip "Susie" is a much more interesting original and showcases the band's own potential much more convincingly. It's not a particularly progressive track, but it does at least feature some keen guitar work and more adventurous songwriting.

There would be no further Mandarin Kraze singles after this single, though, and while the rest of the line-up isn't disclosed anywhere, we do know for a fairly certain fact that future member of The Records John Wicks served on guitar and vocals from 1971 until their eventual dissolution in 1976. 

And yes, please don't ask me why they're credited as "Manderin Kraze" rather than "Mandarin Kraze" on the record label here - I'm going to assume that was an error on Spark's part rather than some crazy Slade-inspired misspelt name change. 

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