Listen – Magic In the Air – MP3
Here’s hoping that the middle of the week finds you well.
Today’s selection is one of those tunes that I first encountered during the declining years (one might say that these were post-decline, but that is a moptop hair to split another day) of the 80’s garage revival.
By the time the first Attack anthology was released in 1990, my days fuzz, acid etc were already behind me, but although I had ceased to participate in what was left of the “scene”, my love for the music had declined not a whit.
I first heard the Attack on comps like ‘The British Psychedelic Trip’ and ‘Rubble’, but it wasn’t until ‘Magic In the Air’ hit the racks that the truly monumental title track (which had been unreleased back in the day) first found its way past my ears and blew my mind.
Formed from the ashes of a group called the Soul System, the Attack – which included vocalist Richard Shirman and guitarist Davy O’List (later of the Nice) – released four 45s on Decca (as well as a number of tunes that never made it to vinyl).
They were among the finest UK psyche outfits, alongside groups like Kaleidoscope, the Syn and the legendary one-off Tintern Abbey, and if they hadn’t fragmented a few times on the way to oblivion they might be better known today.
As it is, the sounds they made are cherished by psyche-heads like myself, and can be found in various reissues.
Today’s selection ‘Magic In the Air’ is one of the unissued tunes, and is rumored to have been shelved because it was “too heavy”. I don’t know about “too”, but ‘Magic…’ is undoubtedly heavy in a very groovy way, and like the Open Mind’s ‘Magic Potion’ suggests the existence of a previously unknown/unrecognized bridge between the halcyon days of UK psychedelia and the Jurassic assault of Black Sabbath and their ilk a few short years later.
Though I’ve always dug the Sabs, I far prefer my heavyosity seasoned with a dash of pop flash. That, offered up in Shirman’s upper-crust accent – all tea, scones, ruffled sleeves and LSD – comes off like a candy flake steamroller, forcing you to leap from your enchanted toadstool for a vigorous bout of air guitar. The sounds of the Attack are remedy indeed for those that feel the UK psyche pop era was drowning in treacle.
If ‘Magic In the Air’ were all they ever recorded, they would be justly legendary, but their brief discography is loaded with dynamite, including ‘Neville Thumbcatch’, ‘Freedom For You’, ‘Lady Orange Peel’ and their version of ‘Created by Clive’, which was also recorded by the Syn (featuring a young Chris Squire).
Fortunately RPM has assembled all of the Attack’s studio recordings, as well as some live BBC sessions for ‘About Time: The Definitive Mod Pop Collection 1966 – 1968’, which replaces (and then some) the long out of print comp from which this tune was ripped.