Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shovels interview with Adam Camilleri, Peter Warden and Michael Beach

© pregnantagain

I don’t usually fuss too much over where a band’s from, there’re a few places that are buzz words with me the last couple of years though, and San Francisco and Australia are at the top of that tiny list.  Combine those two elements in one band and I was instantly intrigued.  With members split between California and Australia, Shovels are not only a band that straddles the globe, but genres as well.  Fussy psychotic fits of reverberating distortion pierce and then shatter the veil of clamoring drums and thunderous bass glimmering out of a smoky fog in the desolate landscape of a bleak apocalyptic cosmos.  Putting an exact label on what Shovels is doing is a little bit difficult for me, there’s equal parts psych, insane noise rock and tightly honed garage rock, all comingling and interbreeding to birth the twisted mass of sound and coordinated fits of psychosis that is Shovels.  Their debut offering, the self-titled full-length Shovels for Homeless Records, is nothing short of a brash, dissonant masterpiece of confrontational distortion and gnarly fuzz.  Equal and heavy helpings of garage, psychedelia and punk fusing into an unholy union of sound, I’m not going to dwell on trying to describe exactly how Shovels grabs you by the balls and feverishly drags you along for the thirty minute ride of your life, though.  How it sweeps you off of your feet, envelopes you in this warm cozy blanket of utter chaos and then sends you along on your way, seemingly no worse for the wear despite the fact you feel like you’ve just been shot out of a cannon at a brick wall.  What I will do, however, is urge you to click the link below and discover one hell of a band for yourself.  There’re plenty of details below for the inquisitive mind, the important thing though, is that you check out some tunes and cop yourself an album because being limited to only 350 copies this thing is not going to be around long…  Don’t live life in regret.  I know I’m not.
              - Listen while you read:  http://shovels.bandcamp.com/


What’s the lineup at this point for Shovels?  Is this the original lineup or have you all gone through some changes since you started?

Mike:  It’s a three piece:  Adam Camilleri (bass), Peter Warden (drums), Michael Beach (guitar).

Adam:  This is the original lineup for Shovels.

Are any of you involved with any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If you have, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Mike:  I play bass in Meercaz (Northwest blue-collar rock), guitar in Colossal Yes (70’s AM tunes), and perform as Michael Beach as well.  All of those projects have multiple records.  Meercaz has put out records with Tic Tac Totally and Burger, Colossal Yes has put out records on Ba Da Bing and Jackpot, and Michael Beach has put out records with Twin Lakes Records. 

Adam:  We previously played and toured together as Electric Jellyfish.  That band went through a few lineup changes and the last lineup of the band evolved into Shovels.

Pete:  I also play in a weirdo percussion project called Onion Engine.

Mike:  Plus Adam runs Monday Night Mass in Melbourne, which has a sterling reputation for promoting the best underground music in the city. 

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Pete:  Ancient and wise.  I’m from Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

Adam:  Gordon, Victoria, Australia.

Mike:  I’m from Merced, California. 

What was the local scene like where you grew up?  Where you very involved in that scene growing up?  Did you see a lot of live shows or anything?  Do you feel like that scene played an integral part in forming your musical tastes or the way that you perform at this point?

Adam:  Gordon was a very small town, with no live music venues and only one pub.  Pete and I went to high school in Ballarat, which is around twenty four kilometers away.  I spent most weekend nights of my final year of high school hanging out at the local live music venue, the Bridge Mall Inn, and convincing my parents to come and pick me up drunk.

Pete:  Ballarat was alright, there were a few wonderful and inspirational people that kept the community alive.  We also got some oddball Melbourne bands through every now and again.  We all grew up in rural or regional towns...  I don’t want to go through the cliché of romanticizing isolation, but I’m sure it had some kind of impact.

Mike:  Merced was divided between Christian radio stations and Mexican radio stations.  There was no scene, no venues, and no record shops. 

What about your home when you were younger?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives extremely involved or interested in music?

Adam:  My dad used to DJ at a disco club in the western suburbs of Melbourne in the late 70s, so he had quite an extensive collection of disco records growing up, mostly from 1979.  My personal favourite was the Giorgio Moroder E=MC2 record, which featured Moroder on the front cover wearing a white disco suit with a robot chest.  My mum was more into stuff like Roxy Music and Harry Nilsson.  Dad later went through a phase of listening to a lot of John Williamson who’s about the musician equivalent of Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee.  I’m not sure how much of an influence that was.

Pete:  Nah, my family aren’t particularly musical.  I had an uncle that was into The Stooges and The Saints; that probably trickled down.  When I was real young, I didn’t really like music that much.  I was mostly into eating cheese and watching bees.

Mike:  I remember my grandfather playing lots of 50’s dance music, and my parents loved popular late 70’s/early 80’s radio hits, but there wasn’t much other than that.

What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?

Pete:  My old man reckons I was quite affected by Jethro Tull while still in the womb, and I must admit a lingering fondness for “Aqualung”.

Mike:  I’m not sure what ‘real’ means here, but living in Melbourne was the first time I was actively participating in a music scene, both playing and going to shows.

Adam:  Seeing bands in the local scene in Ballarat when I was in high school.  I moved to Melbourne after high school and got heavily into going to noise and experimental shows.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?

Pete:  Probably too many to mention here, I reckon.  Seeing the boredoms in full swing was pretty special for me.  Seeing the Sun City Girls in Berlin really busted open my head as well. 

Mike:  Same...  Too many to list.  The first time I saw Cult Of The Placenta Head definitely stretched what I thought was possible in a musical performance, though. 

Adam:  I saw The Melvins play a small club in Melbourne twelve years ago and the intensity of it blew me away.  I have seen them around ten times since and they have not lost any of that power.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you?

Pete:  I started in noise and experimental bands.  I’m not really sure how it happened; it wasn’t really a conscious decision.  Sometimes you drink too much coffee and find yourself on a stage in your underwear, with a tin foil crown, grunting into a ten dollar microphone.  It felt like a pretty natural progression.

Mike:  I think I had always wanted to write and perform.  It was just a matter of meeting the right people.  That happened pretty early on when I moved to Australia the first time.

Adam:  I had a mate in high school that was writing riffs and recording them on his computer under the name Captain Supermarket.  I was told to play bass and join the band, as he and another friend already played guitar.  We jammed having only “played bass” for a few days.  I was kicked out of the band not long after that.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you originally get it?

Pete:  I picked up the drums quite late.  About three or four years ago, right before then I was mostly playing with homemade cassette loops and banging on metal percussion, living the amateur dream.  I was given my first and only drum kit about a year ago.  It’s falling to pieces and I’m very fond of it.

Mike:  I bought an acoustic guitar when I was eighteen.

Adam:  I bought a bass off the same mate when I was sixteen.  It was black with a dragon carving.  This bass was stolen from our tour van in Las Vegas a few years ago.

How did you all originally meet?  When would that have been?

Mike:  I met Camo (Adam) at a friend’s house in 2005.  I probably met Pete that same year or just after, at a party in Ballarat. 

Pete:  Seems like a fair guess.  One of us was probably providing a couch for the other. Adam and I met in school, but we didn’t really start hanging out until much later.

Adam:  All I remember about Pete in high school is that he wore a lot of oversized metal shirts.  I think we ended up going to a lot of the same shows at some point, and eventually started playing in bands which played shows together.

What led to the formation of Shovels and when was that?

Mike:  Adam and I played together in Electric Jellyfish with another drummer.  When he stopped playing, we started playing with Pete.  Even though Pete played on the last Electric Jellyfish record, the band had a different sound by that point, and we felt it deserved a new name and to move on as a new project.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Mike:  I wouldn’t say it’s a creed or code, but we have an unspoken idea of an aesthetic that seems to come out when we play.  We also work with the idea that the music will be totally collaborative.

Pete:  Yeah, no mantra, that’s our mantra, we kind of figure that our collective tastes and limitations in technique provide enough of a container to allow shit to ferment.  If it feels right, then we roll with it.

Adam:  Yep, what those guys said.

What does the name Shovels mean or refer to in the context of your name?

Pete:  You know that Marcel Duchamp piece, “In Advance of the broken arm”?  The snow shovel?  Yeah...  It has nothing to do with that.


Where’s the band located at this point?

Adam:  Mike lives in Oakland, California.  Pete and I live in Melbourne, Australia.

How would you describe the local scene where you’re located at these days?

Adam:  Pretty good.  Melbourne’s a great city for live music.

Mike:  Oakland’s also pretty good.

Pete:  I agree.

Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local live shows or anything?

Mike:  Yeah, I work at a venue in San Francisco called Hemlock, which is a great band room with a great booker.  Just saw Magik Markers there, and it was great.

Pete:  Yeah, it’s a good reason to catch up with mates.  The large quantity of music is what makes Melbourne worth hanging out in.  Adam books a lot of shows which I regularly check out.  There’s a cluster of fairly solid pubs.

Adam:  As Mike mentioned earlier, I run a night called Monday Night Mass, at Northcote Social Club in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne; free shows every Monday.  I also see a lot of live music on other nights of the week, and for years worked behind the bars of various music venues in Melbourne.

Has the local scene played a large or important role in the sound, history or evolution of Shovels?  Or, do you feel like you all would be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?

Pete:  You are your environment, whether you like it or not.  I’m sure it’s influenced us in many ways we’re not even aware of.  Australian DIY, punk, noise, whatever has left an undeniable impact, but so has Japanese Psych and we didn’t grow up around that…  So who knows?  The invention of the Aeroplane has certainly helped us.  Things were really difficult before then.

Adam:  I think our sound is influenced by a lot of Melbourne bands, but I don’t think it’s easy to pinpoint specific bands that we’re influenced by, or ripping off.  Like Pete said, I think it’s more of an unconscious influence.

I love the combination of sounds that’s going on in your music!  Who are some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Pete:  Cheers!  We all listen to heaps of different music.  There’s definitely an overlap in interests, some things you might expect: The Stooges, Branca, Beefheart, X, feedtime, Silver Apples, Dead C, Les Rallizes Denudes, etcetera.  But we’re not really consciously putting any of these things in our songs.  You need to like some of the same music, otherwise it would be impossible to spend such long periods in a tour van together.  For me, things get more interesting when we bring our differences to the table and then beat them into a shape we’re all happy with.  I’d hope the differences in our tastes loom larger in the creation process than our similarities.

How would you describe Shovels sound to our readers who might not have heard you before?

Pete:  I’m normally pretty poor at this.  It is what it is.

Adam:  The noisier elements of our music were once described as sounding like “dying cattle in a tar pit”.

What’s the songwriting process with Shovels like?  Is there someone who usually brings in a riff or more finished idea to practice to work out with the rest of you, or do you all just kind of get together and kick ideas back and forth until you refine a song from the exchange?

Pete:  The songwriting process is entirely democratic.  All members contribute ideas to all songs.  Without ever consciously setting out rules or a defined approach, it’s felt important that the band doesn’t become a songwriting vehicle for any one individual.

What about recording?  I’m a musician myself and I think that most of us can appreciate the end result of all the time, hard work and effort that goes into making an album when you’re holding the finished result in your hands.  But getting to that point, getting everything recorded and sounding the way you want it to, especially as a band, can be extremely difficult to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Shovels?  Do you all enjoy recording?

Pete:  I enjoy writing the most, but recording and playing are also both incredibly enjoyable.

Mike:  I enjoy recording with Adam and Pete.  We record things live, all at once, and are usually done within a day or two. 

Adam:  We usually can’t afford any more studio time, so we’ve gotten used to working fast and recording quickly.  We don’t see the point really labouring over pedantic shit, the recordings sound like we sound live.

Do you all prefer to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical aspects so you don’t have to work with, or compromise with someone else?  Or do you head into the studio to record and let someone else handle that side of things so you can concentrate on getting the best performances as possible out of yourselves?

Pete:  Somewhere in between?  We recorded Shovels in a studio.  We might change this in the future, though, as I enjoy a more DIY approach.  We have a reasonably good idea about what kind of sound we want, and we take a hands on approach to mixing, but it’s nice to have someone who knows how to work things and nice microphones.  I’ve never felt like we needed to compromise for another individual.  We just couldn’t work like that.  The larger compromises are with time, geography and resources.  Working against these limits produces its own rewards though.

Mike:  I agree with Pete.  I enjoy recording bands, but I also like letting someone else add their skill to a record.  I don’t think either way affects performances much.

Do you all spend a lot of time working out every nook and cranny of a song before you record them, where every part of the song is meticulously planned and worked out before hand?  Or do you all get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like while allowing for some room for change and evolution during the recording process?

Adam:  We definitely leave room to experiment in the studio.

Pete:  We tend to beat something into a loose shape and then hammer it out.  The performance is much more important than getting every note right.  It’s fresh produce.  Most songs are newly born when we record.  This means you get a few weird looking potatoes in the batch though.  We like to let things contract and expand, and I like the sound of things breaking down a little.  Despite time constraints, we like to keep some spontaneity in the process.  You’re creating, not documenting when you record, I think.

In October of last year you all released the self-titled Shovels album for Homeless Records.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for that record?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?

Pete:  We recorded Shovels in Melbourne with Paul Maybury and got it mastered in Chicago by Bob Weston.  It was a rapid process.  We wrote and recorded in between shows during a 2013 Australian tour.  So, we’d travel and play on the weekend, work day jobs during the day, then go to the studio at night.  I don’t really know anything about the gear, but Paul is a gent.  He’s flexible and knows what we’re after.  He listens to, and translates, obtuse metaphors when we don’t know how to explain ourselves, and in between takes he drinks wine and shows us dated aftershave ads.


Mike:  HomelessRecords released the album on vinyl in June 2014.  Everyone involved, from the recording to the release, was a pleasure to work with.


Does Shovels have any music other than the self-titled album, maybe a song on a compilation or a demo that I might not know about?

Pete:  Nope, that’s it!

With the release of the self-titled album last year does Shovels have any releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?

Pete:  We’re sending things back and forth.  Something will get born soon, I’m sure.

With the completely insane international postage rate increases that have just kept going up and up over the last few years, I try and provide our readers with as many possible options as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?

Shovels:  Stores/distros such as 1-2-3-4 Go, Florida’s Dying, Goner and Permanent have taken copies and as Homeless is distributed by Revolver in the US, the album should be readily available, but it is limited to only 350 copies.

What about our international and overseas readers?

Shovels:  Homeless is distributed by Forte in the UK and into Europe, and has great distribution via Don’t Buy Records in the Netherlands, and X-Mist in Germany always have copies of Homeless titles, as does Born Bad and La Silence de la Rue in Paris.  Check the “Stockists” tab on the Homelesswebsite for more options, the above list is far from complete.

And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases coming at?

Shovels:  Facebook.

Are there any major goals or plans that Shovels are looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or 2015?

Pete:  We’ll get in another Australian tour late this year, write some new material and then hit the States in 2015.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  Do you all enjoy being out on tour?  What’s life like out on the road for Shovels?

Pete:  A friend, who’s also in a band, once described touring as “waiting around to get drunk again”.  While this isn’t always the case, there certainly is a lot of waiting.  Playing shows and meeting other folks making music is about as good as it gets though.  Mike loves driving.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year (2014)?

Mike:  We’ll be touring Australia in November/December of this year.

Adam:  We’re aiming for a USA tour in 2015.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to play with over the past few years?

Pete:  feedtime, Gunslingers from France (Interview here) and Pony Bones.

Adam:  Those ones for sure.  Last year we played with Tyvek and Blank Realm in Brisbane which was a great show.  Camp A Low Hum in New Zealand earlier this year was wild.  Some of our favourite Aussie bands like Bone, Bare Grillz and Kangaroo Skull played.  The Clean also played a mind-blowing set after a brutal day of non-stop rain.

Mike:  Definitely all of the above, plus Useless Children and Apache Dropout.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Adam:  Ya Ho Wah 13 and George Brassens.

Pete:  The Raincoats transported from 1979, The Urinals, Pumice and Milford Graves.

Mike:  Coloured Balls.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share with our readers here?

Pete:  We’re pretty much Mötley Crüe.


Adam:  A couple of times we’ve played DIY house shows where we’ve turned up in the afternoon and a free keg has been provided, and haven’t actually performed until 4am.  Those have been some interesting shows.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent like designs for logos, shirts, fliers, posters, covers and that sort of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey with your artwork?  Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes that sort of thing?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Adam:  Pete?

Pete:  I do most of the art for the band.  I wouldn’t say there’s a meaning or message, art and music should function as an end unto themselves.  Drawing and making things, goes hand in hand with making noises for me.  I’d hope my drumming and my drawings are coalescing into a blurry whole.  So, no.  No message, no meaning.  But that doesn’t mean no content.  I think the imagery suits the noises we make.


With all of the various mediums of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, can you tell us a little bit about why?

Pete:  I like tapes to look at.  I like the way they move and they’re a good size, as well as this: electromagnetism is a fascinating thing.  Have you seen Joseph Henry’s early electromagnets? As great an act of visual creation as any artwork I’ve seen!  Look at this shit:


Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

Adam:  Yeah, I own records. 

Pete:  Mine is pretty fragmented; tapes, records, CDs.  I’m not really a collector.

Mike:  I have a record collection, but it’s pretty small in comparison to most.  Some prized records I got for $1: AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Warren Zevon Excitable Boy, and Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly soundtrack.

I grew up around my father who really encouraged me to listen to anything that I wanted to when I was younger.  He would take me out and pick me up random stuff from the shop and I would hurry home, kick back with a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover art and just let the whole thing carry me off on this trip.  Having something physical to hold and experience along with the music always made fro a more complete listening experience for me and in my growing age it’s become a bit of an obsession to say the least, ha-ha!  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Pete:  Sure.  It’s a ritual hey?  Like grinding your own coffee, or building your own chairs.

Like it or not it seems that digital music is here to stay.  While on it’s own it may have provide innocuous, when teamed with the internet you have something revolutionary on your hands!  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by, eliminated geographic boundaries that crippled bands as little as a decade ago and provided the groundwork for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to a lot of new music they’re not necessarily inclined to pay for it and a lot of people are beginning to see music as this kind of disposable experience to be used and then discarded when you’re done with it.  As a musician during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Pete:  I’m not sure that the digital era cares what I think of it!

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s not enough time in the day to keep up with even a percentage of the amazing stuff that’s going on right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or are that I should be listening to?

Pete:  I really like Mad Nanna and Ghost Gums.  Homeless, the record label we’re on, puts out some ace shit, Sewers and Cuntz in particular.  Heaps more than I can remember, Scrabble, Cured Pink, Dead, Blank Realm, Bone, Exhaustion, Useless Children, Dead, Tax, Native Cats…

Mike:  I like Legs from Oakland, as well as Pang, Meg Baird, Violence Creeps, CCR Headcleaner, Scraper, Cold Beat, Baus, and a bunch more.

What about nationally and internationally?

Pete:  I’m really hoping for a chance to see Bill Orcutt.

Mike:  I like the whole northeast crowd: Pete Nolan, Spectre Folk, Magik Markers, Chris Corsano, MV+EE, and Ben Chasny/Six Organs.  I also heard Tashi Dorji recently and really enjoyed his music.

Thanks so much for doing the interview!  It was awesome getting to learn so much about the band and I hope that you all had at least a little bit of fun looking back on everything that you’ve managed to accomplish as a band.  Before we sign off, is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Pete:  Cheers!

DISCOGRAPHY
(2014)  Shovels – Shovels – digital, Cassette Tape, 12” – Homeless Records (Smoky Haze 12” limited to 100 copies, Black Vinyl 12” limited to 350 copies, Cassette Tape limited to 100 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

AS SEEN THROUGH THE SHADES OF QUESTION MARK of ? and the Mysterians

Chapter 2 Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll : 
? and the Mysterians Derail the Last Train to Clarksville

What are we doing in New York City? Manhatten? 1966 – How did we get here?
How did we get here, New York, of all places, Manhattan?
We never planned this—we never even talked about it, but we did make a recording.
BUT, I must confess that I had set my goals for Broadway back in 1957.

My main goal of course was to be on American Bandstand in 1958, and show the world how to dance, then to proceed in NY, Manhattan, to do a tv show that was very popular from 1950-1960, which I also wanted to be on so I could show the world how to dance. The show was called The Arthur Murray Party and featured dancing and guest vocalists. Of course ultimately I wanted to make my presence known on Broadway – in a musical production, or any kind of production, and later on as a serious actor.

When I said how did we get here, I am referring to ? and the Mysterians. I don't know what their goals were back then – Little Frank Rodriguez, our keyboard player, was just 14 and our guitarist Bobby Balderrama only 15. I'm not sure they, or Frank Lugo and Eddie Serrato HAD any real goals, so I really should say “what am I doing here”? This wasn't how I planned it.

In August, 1966, we arrived in Manhattan at night on the 22nd and I wrote my mother that tomorrow I was going to visit the Empire State Building and was going to go all the way to the top (which I did, to the 102nd floor) Of course I was on the inside, looking through the portholes on the 102nd floor –King Kong was on the outside.


BUT, lets go back to the 1st week of August because this is about a so-called group called the Monkees and another group called ? and the Mysterians and who was going to get to the top spot on the Top 100. Of course, we were. I had no doubt even before I ever heard of the Monkees that we were.

I told everyone when we recorded “96 Tears” that it was a million seller. The first week of August 1966 we were in Dallas TX promoting 96 Tears, which was then still on the Pa-Go-Go label. We already knew it was to be released the 1st week in September on the Cameo Parkway label. We were at a radio station doing a promo stop and a dj there told us “We really like your song a whole lot better than this new group we have to play. We'll play yours next week. The reason is because they have a TV series called “The Monkees” coming out.” Of course I replied “Its too bad we don't have a tv series” and that set in motion the plan to derail the Monkees from reaching the top spot on Billboards top 100 before we did.

At the time, there were also such notable groups as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys who went on to become the so-called “greatest” groups in Rock and Roll History.

The clock starts now and is ticking away. The last week of August, ? And the Mysterians “96 Tears” was listed on the Billboard rankings as  #112   “bubbling just outside the top 100”. There were no Monkees listed.

September 3, 1966 – Lyndon Baines Johnson was president and the 24th Science Fiction convention honored Gene Roddenbury-a week later “Star Trek” debuted on NBC.  On the top 100, 96 Tears has jumped to #75, while the Monkees, even with their upcoming tv show, were only at 101, just outside the top 100. The Beatles Yellow Submarine was #5 and their Elenor Rigby #47, Beach Boys “Wouldn't It Be Nice” was at #11 and the Rolling Stones “Mother's Little Helper” was fading at 40. The race was on.

By September the 10th, ? and the Mysterians are now recording our first album. Everyone KNEW this record was going to be a major hit so into the studio we went. “96 Tears” is now #45 but the Monkees are now climbing and are at #67. Beatles Yellow Submarine #3 and Elenor Rigby jumped to 26, Beach Boys Wouldn't It Be Nice at 11 AND 42 God Only Knows.


On September 15th, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to the United States Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation. The Monkees TV show debuted on the 12...by September 17th 96 Tears has continued to climb to 25 and the Last Train To Clarksville chugged along at #43. Still floating the Yellow Submarine was #2 and Eleanor Rigby at 14. The Beach Boys Wouldn't It be Nice counted in at #8 and God Only Knows at 40. We were still ahead of the prefabricated fake tv band.

From September 24-30, Hurricane Inez, killed 293 in the Caribbean, Florida & Mexico. In OUR world, in the week ending September 24th , 96 Tears has broken into the top ten, at #8, the fastest rising single on the charts. The Monkees “Last Train To Clarksville” crawled to #26; The Beatles “Yellow Submarine” dropped to #4 and “Elenor Rigby” just at 11; The Beach Boys “Wouldn't It Be Nice “ was #9 and their “God Only Knows” was at 39

A little trivia for everyone out there-- how many of you owned a Chevy Camaro at one time or another- did you know it was originally called the Panther. It was first released September
29 , 1966. That same week, the week ending October 1st , finds 96 Tears at #6, up two positions, Yellow Submarine dropped to 8 and Eleanor Rigby in at 11, Last Train to Clarksville was at 18, Beach Boys Wouldn't It Be Nice at 23 and God Only Knows on its way out at 45. Neither of the Beach Boys songs from their highly acclaimed album made #1, In fact God Only Knows didn't fare well at all.

On October 6th there was a partial meltdown at Detroits's Fermi 1 nuclear reactor AND
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is first declared illegal in state of California, other states follow.. The Billboard charts for the week ending October 8th, 96 Tears continued its climb, now at #3 , The Monkees “Last Train to Clarksville” moved up to #6, Submarine down to #16 taking Eleanor Rigby to #21 – the Rolling Stones entered with “Have you Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadows)” at 40 from out of nowhere, and “Wouldn't It be Nice” dropped to 45-- God Only Knows what happened to “God Only Knows”—it was GONE.

On October 13th , 1966, 173 US airplanes bomb North-Vietnam and on the 14th 175 US airplanes bomb North Vietnam. Back at home, the Billboard chart for the week ending October 15, our
“96 Tears” was for a second time #3, the Monkee's “Last Train to Clarksville” right behind us at #4, Mother Baby has gone from 40 to 14 in a week, Yellow Submarine has dropped to 32 and Eleanor Rigby at 37 – Wouldn't it be Nice is GONE

October 13-Oh My Goodness, It's my BIRTHDAY!!!
In celebration I decided to skip down Wall Street, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Greenwich Village, Time Square, Central Park, over to Harlem to the Apollo Theatre, through Tiffany's where I skipped right through the jewelry because material things really don't mean much to me, The Secretariat Building in the UN Complex (The Glass Wall – remember the movie?), Five Points and to the top of the Empire State Building, and on the 86th floor observatory, I skipped all the way around there too. When you visit NYC, I encourage you to Skip to My Lou (Judy Garland version perhaps?) around them all and photograph or videotape it and send it over to 96TearsForever@gmail.com.
On October 21st, 144 died as a coal waste landslide engulfed a school in Aberfan, South Wales
Billboard's Week ending October 22, 1966 chart we moved up one more spot- ever closer to derailing the Last Train to Clarksville....”Reach Out I'll Be There” by the Four Tops became the #1 song in America, but close on their heels was US--“96 Tears” now at #2 and ahead of “Last Train to Clarksville” by a single spot. Stones Mother Baby was hung up at 13, and both the Beatles songs and the Beach Boys two hits had quietly faded away.
And then it happened...the chart for the week of October 29, 1966 was released and sitting on the top of the world was ? and the Mysterians with “96 Tears”!
The Monkees, propelled by their tv show and big studio money STILL couldn't beat us, a little band of Mexicans from Michigan, to the top...and they were #2. The Stones “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby” never got past #9 where they were on this chart. There was not a peep from the Beatles or the Beach Boys... We were promoting 96 Tears and our next record “I Need Somebody” on the east coast in October and November. We were doing bigger concerts with Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and Papas, The Left Banke, and others who were eager to be on the show with us.


The week before 96 Tears became the #1 single in the country, this is what happened.
? and the Mysterians are about done recording our debut album, “96 Tears” and Neil Bogart came into the studio.
“Why don't you guys take a break, I have something to tell you.” he said.  “Next week you guys are going to be #1 ; are you all excited?”

Bobby, Little Frank, Frank Lugo, Eddie Serrato all started yelling and screaming “Number 1, Number 1!” Neil Bogart looked at me and said “Question Mark, aren't you excited?” and I said “No”.

Before Little Frank was in the group, back in 1963, somebody booked us in Adrian MI, which is about 10 miles from Ohio. We had never played any further than a 25 mile radius from home so going to Adrian MI was like going to the moon. We knew nobody there and they didn't know who we were but after we played 2 sets, everyone loved us. At that time we were known as the Mysterians, ?, X, Y and Z.

I was thinking about this, my reply to Neil Bogart was “So what's more exciting—we've gone out of MI into OH, IN, FL, NY, PA (which we continue to do today without another gold record)
AND THERE WAS SILENCE.

Article made by Question Mark & Susie Martin/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Merrell Fankhauser - Signals From Malibu/Message From The Dome (2014) review


Merrell Fankhauser "Signals From Malibu" /"Message From The Dome" (Ocean Records 2014)

A series of UFO sightings have been reported off the coast of Malibu, California, prompting belief an underwater base inhabited by an otherworldly species exists. Enigmatic signals have even been picked up and conveyed to tape. The New York Center For Extraterrestial Research sent some of these recordings to Merrell Fankhauser, who is a serious scholar of UFOs. The legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, and 2011 Grammy Nominee was so stoked by what he heard that he added the signals to this great single, serving as perhaps the first collaboration between a human and what we deem aliens.

Both tracks are instrumentals, with "Signals From Malibu" rolling and strolling with slinky and swanky tempos. An inspiring interaction of slightly-buttered blues tones and stimulating surf rock riffs converge in perfect unison with the mysterious beeping sounds that give the piece a real "Twilight Zone" aura. Equally outstanding is "Message From The Dome," which favors an orchestral stance. Elegant piano work, tethered to a symphonic production and Merrell's melodic guitar mastery, not to mention those strange and buzzing signals, provide the cut with shade upon shade of beauty and agility. A sense of serenity washes over these sonically gorgeous instrumentals, employing the impression that whoever or whatever is behind the signals comes in peace. Word has it that a full-length CD of "Signals From Malibu" will be available shortly, which is certainly good news. Should the beings responsible for the signals get wind of Merrell's project, I am sure they would approve. Merrell's creations are always immensely heartfelt and creative, and "Signals From Malibu"/"Message From The Dome" catches him once again pushing barriers and enjoying himself while doing so.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: The Cush "Broken Radio" premiere


The track is from the forthcoming album, Transcendental Heatwave, which will be released in January on a few different labels, depending on the territory. Here are the details on that:

Follyphone Records - vinyl release in Scandinavian countries
The Synaptic Empire - CD release only
Dreamy Machine Records - vinyl release in the UK
Dreamy Soundz Records - vinyl release in the US

Here's a little more info about how the video was made.

From Dan at Follyphone Records, who created the video:
"The video is made from images found in the Prelinger Archive. I enjoyed making it myself, and there's a satisfaction and pride in being self-reliant. As a small label hell-bent on creating a meaningful alternative to the current mainstream music industry, we wholeheartedly embrace the do-it-yourself ethos for pretty much everything and we're proud to say we have a shit load of fun doing what we do."

From Gabby Douglas:

"To me, this video is intuitive images linked together, creating psychedelic eyes. Layers of mysterious images set perfectly to the layers of vast sounds provided by The Cush. Burette and I both loved the videos right away! They add so much to our songs, a story, on another level."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Love, Poetry and Revolution: A Journey Through the British Psychedelic And Underground Scenes


Various Artists "Love, Poetry And Revolution" (Cherry Red Records, 2014)

    With the emergence of CD box sets, two specialities seem to be rising to the top like natural selection. Perhaps one’s a direct result of the other, who knows, but we now have the best label compilations (Island, Vertigo, Harvest, Dandelion, Dawn etc.) along with current labels compiling genre anthologies. Just released by Grapefruit Records, under the Cherry Red umbrella, is Love, Poetry and Revolution, a triple-CD clambox dedicated to British psychedelia from 1966 to 1972. And it’s a rare beast too.

    As with all bestiaries, classification isn’t usually high on the list until zoology establishes where to fit what’s found. After all, who could imagine that a zebra is technically a camel or that a koala isn’t a bear? Popular music is no different at a time when histories are being compiled and co-ordinated thanks to hindsight and records from archaeological digs. Psych is usually defined as free-use of effects like fuzz, wah-wah, reverb, phasing and other tape tricks, with occasional use of exotic instruments. A fuzz tone pedal was first used in 1965 apparently—I’m no historian—but kindred effects appeared over a decade before with the amplifier as a source, such as on Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 and Chuck Berry’s Mabellene; my particular fave is the one man band Joe Hill Louis’s Boogie In The Park, an astonishing rocker from 1950 leaving Bill Haley without a paddle.

    Psych was first coined in late 1965 with the 13th Floor Elevators of Texas, but as it gained ground split into two variants: popsike and underground (Edgar Broughton Band, Amon Düül, Pink Fairies, Quintessence, Stray etc.). The second form had no claims on the charts—so they said—and ‘to sell out’ was unforgivable treason, signalling different markets at one fell swoop. Fans were staunchly possessive of their own preference. This box set makes no distinction between the two strands, though surely “underground” doesn’t apply to bands who simply, and sadly in many cases based on what’s here, were unable to get into the charts. This, of course, may be hair-splitting. Psych is also supposed to reflect the experience of psychedelic drugs, but there’s little that is “crazed” in the results here. Definitions blur, and sub-divide, with freakbeat, mod-psych, and prog—or is the latter only when extended beyond three minutes? Today there’s also the derivative popsicle. As the booklet shows, a typical week at the Marquee could see Elmer Gantry (a noticeable absence here), Jason Crest (who are), Blodwyn Pig, Van Der Graaf Generator, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, another week with Traffic, The Nice, Ten Years After, The Open Mind, and London Youth Jazz Orchestra. Heady days indeed! At first glance there seems no rhyme or reason to this issue. No anniversary, noticeable shift or itch to reappraise what’s been forgotten, nought—except darn fine taste with some amazing archive discoveries including bands unable to issue any recordings. 

    Perhaps the revival of the genre heralds it? Neo-psych is enjoying a high profile since the 90’s (Elf Power; Kula Shaker) to today’s overdrive with Tame Impala, Goat, Fuzz, Toy, Hidden Masters, Wooden Shjips, the staggering Nebula, even the North Mississippi Allstars who boogie-fuzz the  blues like there’s no tomorrow in the wake of their mentor R.L. Burnside. Grapefruit’s David Wells traces Britain’s ancestry with some tasty comestibles on this “trail of breadcrumbs” as his only map.

    Technicolor suddenly exploded on monochrome mid-60s Britain when not only society but musical expression felt a need to spread its wings in the wake of revivals of blues and folk music. Clubs and universities opened their doors before festivals climbed on the bandwagon, pop covers morphed into experimentation, rock, and fusion with jazz and other styles from as far away as India and Japan. The only order of the day was choice, for musicians and audiences alike. At a time when the rebellious decided not to stand for the national anthem in the cinema, and you could smoke there or on the plane because they had more sophisticated air-conditioning that sucked instead of blowed poisonous chemicals, the new style spread even into fashion and musty BBC who could no longer miss what was in front of their eyes. A revolution of arriving without travelling, as Harrison put it.
    

    This is a compilation of trip-seeking pioneers, and their tales are as interesting as what they produced. There are household names (now) along with names not familiar in their own households. The first CD appropriately kicks off with Deep Feeling, a Midlands band that spawned such classics as Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Family and Blossom Toes. Their Pretty Colours featured on Luther Grosvenor’s anthology Floodgates a few years ago, and some of their unrealised ideas were revived in early Traffic in 1967. Sunbeam Records have issued all their known recordings based on the later DJM LP of 1971. The fascinating www.brumbeat.net (which has some of the funniest memories of small bands anywhere on the net) highlights the important history of a band that first started as The Hellions. When Eric Burdon was played the acetate of Pretty Colours he described it as psychedelic, thus spreading the word of this new style in the Black Country.
    Legendary acts feature as often as those only vaguely known in legend. The Californian five-piece The Misunderstood, brought to Blighty by the raving (about them) John Peel, still only recorded a handful of songs in ’66 of which this track highlights effective use of different-tempo hand-clapping. An early 45 on a fledgling United Artists and chugging ’68 LP track by the influential Spencer Davis Group are keyboard driven, as is The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s Devil’s Grip, their debut single, and flunked follow-up to Fire in late ’68 (Nightmare). Tread Softly For The Sleepers by the Hi-Fis is in the same vein, issued by the German Star Club no less when spending most of their short life on the Swiss-German border. The Mirage, an early backing band for Elton John but had several singles in their own right, adapted keyboard interest by employing the variant harmonium for a lovely Wedding of Ramona Blair (presumably no relation) and more standard fare on the unreleased Ebeneezer Beaver which, alas, fades out just as a superb guitar solo appears. Great wah-wah guitar livens up the Respect’s unreleased studio take from the summer of ’69. 

    The last of the four acts featured twice are The Deviants, an untypical ballad from their debut platter and the Stable-issued track that backed Mick Farren’s A-side Let’s Loot The Supermarket, proto-punk with a vocal style recalling Can’s Monster Movie. Other legends include Alan Bown, a pre-Bolan B-side of John’s Children, and Serendipity, a sextet with links to Blodwyn Pig and pre-Deep Purple Mandrake Root, on a hypnotic fuzz guitar and keyboard romp. The In Crowd—lined up to feature in not one but two films, then elbowed out of both—soon became the better-known Tomorrow, after changing style to go with the flow of The Who, Yardbirds, and Hollies on three Parlophone singles. By then the future Yesman Steve Howe and Twink (Pretty Things, Deviants, Pink Fairies, a true undergrounder) were in the band often featured on Peel’s Perfumed Garden. Tomorrow was the first-ever act on his Radio One show in ’67, their My White Bicycle being a later hit for Nazareth. Different styles are clear with The Drag Set, who rehearsed with Hendrix and fated to record with Joe Meek just a few days before his suicide; their early Santana-like guitar contrasts with the pre-CSNY of Felius Andromeda’s beautiful melody. Drag Set became the legendary Open Mind, whose classic stomper Magic Potion is also featured.

    Mike Stuart’s Span leads with fuzz bass, but due to Decca’s odd apathy the Brighton group became better known as Leviathan, whose heavy origins are shown here. Surely the laurel for the unluckiest act never to achieve a contract in spite of frequent gig-page appearances goes to the Welshmen of Jade Hexagram. The storming Crushed Purple is resurrected from their Marquee tapes in 1968. One In A Million’s demo Man In Yellow features a teenage Jimmy McCulloch before Thunderclap Newman / Stone The Crows / Wings and an overdose at a younger age than Hendrix. This was recorded the same year as their 45, a style befitting their support of The Who’s first Scottish tour (McCulloch later recorded with them). Clifford T. Ward’s career is spotlighted with Simon’s Secrets’ Naughty Boy (CBS 1968), one of numerous non-charting singles in a career hampered by camera-and-tour-shyness then finally blighted by multiple sclerosis, when he literally crawled to his studio to record his final album.

    Another rare gem is Neon Pearl, featuring Peter Dunton of later T2 fame, a seminal band on the touring scene. Unusually this is an acoustic track—the only one on the first CD—without drums, T2 being one of the few with a drummer-vocalist-principle songwriter. His melancholy, hypnotic vocal clearly hadn’t changed by the time he incarnated into the rocking It’ll All Work Out In Boomland (Decca) three years later, though with The Flies he approaches T2 without the searing guitar crescendos. The weirdest name prize has to go to Crocheted Doughnut Ring, whose Polydor release Two Little Ladies (Azalea and Rhododendron) is as musically innovative as the name is silly, almost a psych anthem in itself. They even flogged the absurd theme on Simon Dee’s TV show, to what purpose remains lost in the mists of time—or just in the mist. It came with the territory, as with the early demo by Blossom Toes hoping not to be late for tea, a hardy perennial period theme, Sand’s Mrs Gillespie’s Refrigerator penned by the Bee Gees, or The Shame’s homely advice to a little girl proffered by Greg Lake. After all, it was the era of basin hair-dos, collarless suits and Carnaby ties. 

    Equally rare is Tintern Abbey’s Busy Bee demo for what later became Beeside c/w Vacuum Cleaner (Deram 1967), their only release and deemed by many the archetype psych single. In spite of financing by a millionaire associated with the International Times underground paper, Tintern performed no UK gigs. The demo was recorded at R.G. Jones in Morden, Surrey, a hundred yards from my school and next to a 17th century churchyard and, more usefully, an ancient inn. The first demos by the Yardbirds, Stones and Stray were recorded there, as well as Quo and even Sonny Boy Williamson before the studio was demolished by the council for a hideous college. Jones relocated to Wimbledon, finally shutting shop a decade ago when one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious studios. After its debut was voted Melody Maker’s folk album of the year, the in-house Oak Records issued The Bo Street Runners (Mick Fleetwood, Mike Patto, Tim Hinkley), and The Gremlins (featuring the later Fleur de Lys’ vocalist). The Story of Oak Records, An Anthology of R.G. Jones (Morden) Recordings featured The Mike Stuart Span and Nico/Cale-like Velvet Frogs.


    The second CD continues the chronological, eye-opening trail through personnel histories as they incarnate on different demos and singles. A classic example is the aforementioned Pete Dunton, reappearing in The Flies when he penned both sides of their ’68 RCA single. The East Londoners blagged important support gigs, including Hendrix at the Roundhouse, and some see the seeds of garage-punk in their 65-68 work highlighted on a CD release in 2002. Dunton then went on to Please for a fistful of demos—Strange Ways here is a melodic treat—before jumping ship for the better-known The Gun with the Gurvitz brothers, the remainder forming Bulldog Breed and also Infinity for a still-born concept album about space, matter (Arthur C. Clarke) and…curry (East End). Their Venetian Glass, written by keyboarder John Da Costa (his autobiography is at the Psychspaniolos blog), featured in their constant gigging when with the NEMS agency. Sun Dragon’s contribution from their one LP Green Tambourine (MGM 1968) featured Blackmore, Lord and Paice of Deep Purple, while Shy Limbs’ CBS single Love, in the vein of Manfred Mann and Procol Harum, sees Greg Lake on bass/vocals (as also with The Shame). Soon after he joined King Crimson whose Robert Fripp, also from Bournemouth, adds guitar here.

    At first glance West Coast Consortium seem Californian in looks and la-la’s but were a North London male quintet specialising in harmony pop. After Pye changed their name from Xit and told them to “cut out the hippy tosh”, they had a no.22 UK hit in early ’69 but the chosen track is from unused home recordings six months earlier. Consortium soldiered on until 1975 trying to get an LP out, so it’s ironical that three CDs have been devoted to them since (on Angel Air, Castle, Wooden Hill). Kent’s Jason Crest (1967-69) suffered the same fate from Philips, even though one single —among five in 18 months—was translated into a French chart-topper while doing BBC shows and touring Germany. Their unreleased Teagarden Lane, swirl-phased with confident vocal harmonies like Barclay James Harvest, is one of less than 20 songs highly-rated by psych collectors. The frustration might be seen when one of them joined heavy merchants Orang-Utan.

    Named after a 1940s novel and film set in 17th century England, Forever Amber’s The Love Cycle seems loosely based on that romance, certainly for the brashly sentimental track here. Appearing in January 1969 in only 99 copies to avoid VAT, the subsequent fame is almost staggering. Mojo, The Times, and The Guardian have all listed it as one of the great albums of the period, if one can get past the moronically world-ignoring “to hear before you die” buzz expression. It’s pretty nifty for a 16-track slice of vinyl costing £200 after 19 hours of studio work in Cambridge, when only the final track clambers to anywhere near four minutes. A more subterranean fame marks Second Hand’s A Fairy Tale and here is a demo of the title track. Their follow-up LP Death May Be Your Santa Claus, organ-based (sometimes exclusively) with Lol Coxhill guesting for the odd jazz flourish, was a film soundtrack based on a young black militant’s nihilism. Both housed in weird covers, they were akin to Arthur Brown’s Galactic Zoo Dossier of the same year and Beefheart; heavy psychedelic could have been coined just for them. Nurse With Wound cite Second Hand as an inspiration. 

    Mushroom Records formed especially to release a thousand copies of it in 1971, gaining further kudos when bringing out the classic Magic Carpet too from their offices opposite the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm (Alisha Sufit still performs interesting work today with her own label, Magic Carpet Records). Simon Finn’s Pass The Distance was their second release, but withdrawn due to a dispute over the artwork. His Laughing ’Til Tomorrow shows how regrettable that was; he later emigrated to Canada and turned his back on the industry. Talking of labels, a few choices appeared on the eclectic Beacon Records (1968-72), most renowned for the first albums of UFO when more spacey psych. The Fut’s 7” Have You Heard The Word (1970) appears on numerous Beatles bootlegs after Yoko Ono tried to copyright it as Lennon’s in 1985. In fact it was the result of a drunken Australian session with one of the Bee Gees, leaked to Beacon without their knowledge. Taiconderoga’s Whichi Tai To (Beacon, 1969) seem early precursors of dyslexia—their name misspells a US town (or a Witkacy novel character) and their song title (Maori?) couldn’t have helped. In true Beacon mode, it was a one-off by Train, a hard-gigging five-piece at the heavier end of late psych/early prog. Their drummer went on to Gentle Giant while the 18 year-old guitarist changed his name, and age, when forming The Damned at the dawn of punk.

    The Cortinas—their only 7” here was after Mick Taylor left—soon opted for the less racy name Octopus for a classic one-off LP on Penny Farthing. The original was messed up by the label so the CD reissue on Rev-Ola is the first-ever as the band intended with 10 bonus tracks. Not to be confused with a mid-70s German prog band of the same name—several names have since been nicked especially by American groups—they had a wide repertoire live, covering Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Yes, and Beatles! This is their Badfinger style. Complex, “Fylde’s leading group”, were one of the first to issue 99-copy private pressings so the rare demo Images Blue is welcome. Their songwriter Steve Coe later penned Monsoon’s hit Ever So Lonely. 

    Among the obscure on the second CD are those with longer-lasting influence, such as The Liverpool Scene, a loosely-defined ensemble that adapted musical forms for a poetry theatre mixing wry social satire with anarchic politics. They centred round Adrian Henri, whose old school tie network included many useful friends in the media, Andy Roberts (unduly neglected yet worked with The Beatles without credit) and Mike Hart whose two great albums on Dandelion hark back to The Liverpool Scene. Less known than The Scaffold, they believed the effect of a poem is more important than the poem itself which works as an agent to convey the poet’s message (the French poet Rimbaud did the same, as did the Surrealists of course). John Cooper Clarke and Attila The Stockbroker were in the same vein, while the devastatingly humorous side reappeared on Hart’s solo LPs to good effect. (The box set has a hidden extra track—I’m guessing its Mike Hart’s family!) We’ll All Be Spacemen Before We Die, complete with NASA intro, is a rare cull from a ’69 TV series broadcast only in the north-west of England. Spacey, heavy Gong mixed with Tractor no less.

    Also from Dandelion is Principal Edward’s Magic Theatre with one of the red label’s first singles, the violin-led Lament For The Earth. The commune group from the University of Exeter were also multi-media like the Liverpudlians but with less humour and, it’s said, more arrogance. Their second LP was produced by Floyd’s Nick Mason, a fan at the time. This reviewer considers them rather more typical of the counterculture than The Liverpool Scene, but the beauty of this fine collection is its allowance for different viewpoints. The closer by Kevin Coyne, Evil Island Home, is a mesmeric take on modern life as powerful today as when recorded for his first solo album at the end of Dandelion’s days. Completing the label connection is Beau (i.e. Trevor Midgley) with the title-track from his second LP, Creation, which featured the legendary Tractor duo adding pumped-up fuzz, a fusion style he still sporadically reprises today. From his (and Dandelion’s) debut single in the summer of ’69, 1917 Revolution where the guitar echoes the cavalry, to his current work on Cherry Red and Fruits de Mer, this master of the 12-string is enjoying (like Fry) a belated but well-deserved renaissance seen with Fables and Façades. His always-interesting material reflects life in the Britain of its day along with historical subjects unearthed from the past for a thought-provoking journey.
           
    Hardin-York, organist-singer and drummer respectively of the Spencer Davis Group, pursued a career as a duo often seen on ’70s tours and in clubs like the Marquee. Their first single on Bell, Tomorrow Today, exemplifies what should have achieved wider notice. Mike Read’s fledgling period as a song-writer is given an airing with an unreleased demo, before his days as a TV presenter and DJ. Ex-Amber and The Lost, his track features Atomic Rooster’s later drummer and Virgin Sleep’s acid guitarist for a surprising What The Dickens. Also better known for extra-curricular activities were Fat Mattress, formed by Hendrix’s bassist Noel Redding to showcase his own work. The 7” flute-swirling B-side is a good example of their creativity, as is a still-viewable German TV performance, with their shared lead vocals that had a very distinctive, original tone at the time.

    The chronological approach shines a strong searchlight on the musical development. The second half, spanning the last two CDs, includes longer tracks with more acoustic material from duos like Hardin-York and Paper Bubble’s rare Deram LP. From Shrewsbury, Brian Crane and Terry Brake had a close link with The Strawbs when they were still The Strawberry Hill Boys in Twickers. Cousins and Hooper produced Bubble’s only album and toured together, so fans of early Strawbs may well enjoy this discovery along with the guitar-and-sitar of The Fox’s Butterfly. Solo artists continue with Phil Cordell where big label faith later delivered a UK #5 (as Springwater) and German #1.

    Contrasts permeate this cross-section anthology, starkly shown by two names without marketing guile who were both art students. The hippy troubadour Bill Nelson’s Northern Dream was pressed in a mere 300 copies by his local record store in Yorkshire while his counterpart Mark Fry was recording in Italy for RCA. Nelson’s solo debut displays early his guitar skill, before he formed Be-Bop Deluxe. Today the local boy made good holds an annual Nelsonica event in the same town as that record shop. Mark Fry’s Dreaming With Alice, with its linking theme between songs, initially went unnoticed but has become a psych-folk classic of dreamy atmosphere and nostalgia laced with subtle sitar. Fans of this should check out Peter Howell & John Ferdinando’s Jabberwocky, where spoken voice and tape-looping perfectly complement Lewis Carroll’s surrealistic verse.


    The last CD gives space to longer compositions, as the psych singles began to overlap with more experimental prog. Czar, the former Tuesday’s Children disappointed with lack of interest in their pop singles, debuted under their new moniker at the Marquee in January 1970 a month before recording Ritual Fire Dance. The four-piece toured with The Moody Blues, Floyd, Hendrix and early King Crimson, who all left their traces for a lone album on Fontana with one of the most reproduced sleeves of the era. It was recorded late night after gigs which may account for its darker atmosphere. Due to copyright reasons, this demo—based on a piece in a Spanish ballet—had to be left off the LP. Space rock fans certainly have in their archives Hawkwind Zoo’s seven-minute demo Hurry On Sundown, but it’s an inspired inclusion here because Dave Brock still retained his busking heritage on their debut when they dropped the Zoo appendage and cheekily spelled their name in marijuana leaves. An edited version was their first single and featured in a debut Top Gear in August 1970. Kula Shaker (Hari Om Sundown) and The Petals later did versions of the underground anthem.

    Highlights of course depend on your bag. History, nostalgia, style, music genealogy or just the music itself: something for everyone as the saying goes. It’s a British Nuggets trip without sitar swirlers, a cultural tapestry too though the threads are still pulling today. The booklet is a well-researched 36-page compendium full of atmospheric iconography—even the CDs can be easily removed from the packaging! No track times, but four hours of rare material, some restored to full-length from master-tapes for the first time along with period-pieces like an Alice Through The Looking Glass concept and a local TV soundtrack, region-only issues, and intriguing hidden track. The release is dedicated to Mick Farren, a true counterculture icon who stuck by his guns for half a century. The music like the message continues the same way.

Review made by Brian R. Banks/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014