Harumi – Talk About It (Verve)
Fox – Butterfly (Crewe)
Johnny Rivers – Hey Joe (Imperial)
Sweet Thursday – Molly (Great Western Gramophone)
JK & Co. – Break of Dawn/Fly (White Whale)
West – The Dolphins (Epic)
Orpheus – Lesley’s World (MGM)
Bit-a-Sweet – If I Needed Someone (ABC)
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Pretty Song From Psych Out (Uni)
I wasn’t sure if I was going to drop this edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip before New Years Eve, but since I had it ready to go (and another fresh – very cool – mix waiting in the on deck circle) I figured the time was right.
I hope everyone is having an excellent holiday season – no matter what holiday you celebrate – and is ready for more hijinks in 2008.
As I mentioned with the previous mix, this podcast was assembled as a companion piece of sorts, with a slightly dreamier aesthetic.
As is always the case, I dug deep into the crates and let the spirit move me, attempting to group some songs together that may not be stylistically consistent but all manage to complement each other, creating not a psychedelic monolith but rather an audio journey of sorts in where the scenery changes from place to place but it all manages to be quite groovy.
Things get started with a shorter cut from the 1967 debut of the mysterious Harumi. From what I’ve been able to gather Harumi was indeed Japanese, but recorded his album in New York City (with the guidance of Tom Wilson). The sounds therein are a mixture of mid-60’s psyche pop, trippy free-form excursions and world music. ‘Talk About It’ is one of the more “conventional” tracks on the album with a real Carnaby Street feel that wouldn’t have been out of place on one of the many Rubble comps. I’ll be posting one of the long tracks from this album very soon.
Speaking of Rubble, it was on one of those volumes that I first encountered ‘Butterfly’ by the Fox. I can’t tell you much about the group, other than the fact that their LP, which was released in the US on the Crewe label is both excellent – with lots of psyche pop – and fairly easy to come by (or at least it was in the 80’s when I owned no less that three copies before finally scoring the one I own now, with the cover still intact). ‘Butterfly’ is perhaps the perfect example of late-60’s UK hippy pastorale, complete with profound lyrics and a bit of a sunrise at Stonehenge vibe to it. I love it.
I’ve always dug the sounds of pop hitmaker Johnny Rivers, which is why I grabbed his 1967 ‘Realization’ LP when I was in Maine earlier this year. Good thing I did too, because in addition to my fave Rivers 45 ‘Summer Rain’, the record also included a fairly psyched-out take on that old saw ‘Hey Joe’. Rivers takes it at a slow, Hendrixian pace, and manages to work in some sound effects and a few new lyrics along the way.
I first heard ‘Sweet Thursday’ many years ago via someone I used to work with (I can’t remember exactly who…). The band, a kind of second rung supergroup that featured both Johnny Mark and Nicky Hopkins had an interesting sound, mixing bits of folk and pop in with their 1969 UK blues to great effect. The finest cut on the album – at least to my ears – is ‘Molly’ that sounds like an outtake from a Procol Harum session. Even if the track doesn’t blow you away, it’s worth picking up the album for the picture of the band on the cover with their rock star coats to stave off the chill of a London night with Big Ben shining in the background.
J.K. & Company’s ‘Suddenly One Summer’ LP is a great example of an album I picked up because it looked trippy, and ended up not only being excellent, but worth a couple of bucks as well (always a nice by-product). Jay Kaye was apparently a 15 year old whiz kid when he recorded his only LP for White Whale in 1968. The album is filled with folky soundscapes and strange little sonic interludes. ‘Break of Dawn/Fly’ is actually one of each. If you can find your own copy (when I got mine it had a letter in it from the label’s promo director to a distributor, on White Whale stationery) good on you. If not, you can always pick up the recent reissue.
Another Maine score was the 1968 debut album by the group West. The band, which recorded two LPs for Epic featured ex-We Five member Michael Stewart. Though the LP featured some fairly unremarkable folk rock (albeit with nice vocals), one of the standouts was this cover of Fred Neil’s ‘The Dolphins’.
We take a brief detour into a bit of pretty soft rock with ‘Lesley’s World’ by Orpheus. Promoted as part of MGM’s ill-advised ‘Bosstown Sound’ construct (see also Ultimate Spinach and Phluph)– in which all the bands hailed from Boston but had little or no stylistic connection – Orpheus created three albums for MGM and one for Bell between 1967 and 1971, all featuring a soft-rock/harmony vibe that sounds a lot more California than Boston. ‘Lesley’s World’ has some fantastic chord changes and am vibe that wouldn’t be out of place on a late-60’s Astrud Gilberto LP.
One of the first groups I featured here at Iron Leg was New York’s own ‘Bit A Sweet’. Though their MGM 45 is my favorite, they went on to record a full length LP for ABC. Their trippy cover of the Beatles’ ‘If I Needed Someone’ is pretty cool, and believe it or not comes complete with a drum break.
I remember the first time I ever saw the exploito classic ‘Psych Out’ and really dug the pretty song by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. I never caught the title, but always wished I could find a copy. Flash forward a bunch of years and I’m digging through a box of 45s at a record show and what do I find but a Uni 45 by the Strawberry Alarm Clock entitled – I shit you not – ‘Pretty Song From Psych Out’. WTF?!?!? It was like a punch line to a lame joke, but thankfully it was also a very, VERY groovy tune, which I bring to you now. As hard as it may be to believe, the co-writer of this song Ed King went on to play with Lynyrd Skynyrd following his years with the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
So, when the New Years Eve festivities are winding down, and it’s just you and a couple of good friends and you drag out your “special occasion” bong (i.e. “the good china” for heads), fire up this mix and let it flow in over the lobes and wrap itself around your brain. You will not be sorry.
Happy New Year, and…