Marmalade – I See The Rain (Epic)
Equals – Skies Above (RCA)
Bee Gees – Earnest of Being George (ATCO)
Pink Floyd – Candy and a Currant Bun (Harvest)
Donovan – Museum (Epic)
Fox – Glad I Could (Crewe)
Jethro Toe (Tull) – Aeroplane (MGM)
Virgin Sleep – Love (Deram)
Syn – Grounded (Deram)
Outer Limits – Help Me Please (Deram)
Timebox – Gone is the Sad Man (Deram)
Here’s hoping all is well on your end.
Hereabouts, I – like the lead character in Richard Matheson’s ‘I am Legend’ – stand alone, the only remotely healthy individual in a house full of sickos. First the kids – sick twice in the last two weeks, the second part of which will be recreated in a new 3d Imax feature entitled ‘Vomit Storm!’ – and as of last night my wife has joined the line up. How I’ve managed to dodge the virus(es), rogue bacteria or whatever it is that’s causing all these troubles, I know not, and fear that I may be next. If my input to the blog-o-sphere should halt suddenly, you’ll have a pretty good idea why.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip (the seventh) is the first of two podcasts devoted to UK psyche (the second to follow in a few weeks). Though there are a couple of non-OG cuts herein (pulled from 20+ year old comps), almost everything here comes from original 45s.
Back in the day, when I was heavily into garage punk and psychedelia I was fortunate enough to score a grip of very tasty sides at what today could only be considered to be a steal. Thanks to the proximity of a couple of well stocked dealers (this being pre-interwebs) and my fair share of luck I managed to score some stuff in the five and ten dollar range that these days would likely send me hundreds of dollars into the hole.
I actually digi-ma-tized most of this stuff a few years ago, and would likely have put these mixes together a long time ago had the CD not been swallowed by my record room (or some other mysterious location). I finally got my psyche crates out a few months ago and put together a few different stacks of vinyl to make into mixes. Last week I grabbed the UK psyche stacks and set to changing the grooves into a series of ones and zeros so that I might mix-o-fy them for presentation here at Iron Leg.
The mix gets started with an old favorite by a group that went on to have a couple of big pop hits. Marmalade is best remembered these days for their hit ‘Reflections of My Life’ and their cover of ‘Oobla Di Oobla Da’, but in the years leading up to their assault on the Top 40, they recorded a couple of popsike gems, the finest of which (at least in my opinion) is ‘I See The Rain’. Reportedly a favorite of none other than Jimi Hendrix, ‘I See the Rain’ combines pop flavor with heavy guitars to great effect.
The story of the Equals has been addressed here (and over at Funky16Corners) a few times before, but I’ve never really touched on their more lysergic side before (until now). Pulled from their first US LP, ‘The Skies Above’ is a vaguely sinister rocker with a wild vocal by Derv Gordon. My other fave psyche cut by the band will be included in part 2.
Now, the Bee Gees, there’s a dreadfully misunderstood band. Assumed by many to be no deeper than their 1970’s disco mega-hits, those that know – and there are some of us out there – will hep you to the fact that the Brothers Gibb spent the better part of the mid-to-late 60’s making some of the finest psyche pop anywhere, managing to be in all ways Beatle-esque, without ever sounding too much like the Beatles. The first three LPs they recorded for Atco are all gems, and ‘The Earnest of Being George’ is my fave track from the second of these, 1968s ‘Horizontal’. The tune shows a heavier side of the Bee Gees that pretty much disappeared after the 60’s.
I wish I could say that I had a full complement of original Syd-era Pink Floyd 45s, but this is simply not so. However, I do own a very nice mid-70’s comp of these sides, from which I culled my favorite early Floyd tune the dark (yet lyrical) ‘Candy and a Currant Bun’. I’ve always loved how Pink Floyd managed to include all of the late 60’s whimsical UK psyche touchstones without ever sounding fey (a fate that befell many of their contemporaries). The first few years of their history, before Syd Barrett’s creative light was snuffed out by acid drenched psychosis, produced some landmark music that ought to be much better known.
Speaking of underrated artists, there is none moreso than Donovan. Though he is certainly well known to the listening public for his many hits, he deserves a lot more credit than he gets for being consistently innovative, melding Eastern sounds, jazz, folk, blues and psychedelia way ahead of the curve. I first tracked down his 1967 LP ‘Mellow Yellow’ not for any of the trippier cuts, but rather for the dark, acoustic ‘Sand and Foam’ which remains my favorite Donovan tune. However, when it comes to his livelier fusions, there are few better than ‘Museum’ ( a song I found myself singing to my son as we walked under the whale at the Museum of Natural History).
The Fox (their ‘Butterfly’ was included in Iron Leg Digital Trip #4) recorded one album for the Crewe label in 1970. The sounds on the record are fairly representative mish-mash of the time period, but the best cuts can stand alongside any of their contemporaries. Among these is the track I’ve included in this mix ‘Glad I Could’ which manages to sound a few years earlier than 1970.
I can assure you that I don’t have an original copy of the very first Jethro Tull 45 (credited to “Jethro Toe”), as copies of this record change hands in the $1000 range. I found it on mid-70’s German comp that I originally purchased because it included both sides of the first Fairport Convention 45. ‘Aeroplane’ sees Tull leaning in a pop direction that, while not completely unfamiliar (see ‘Living In the Past’), was asomewhat lighter than the Cream-ish heavy blues psyche-outs of their first few (excellent) LPs. The flipside, ‘Sunshine Day’ is also very cool.
Virgin Sleep recorded only two 45s during their short tenure (both for Deram). The first of these, ‘Love’ b/w ‘Halliford House’ is one of the great popsike two-siders of the 60’s (the flip is included in the second mix). Both sides are typical of the kind of moody, Eastern-influenced sounds that British groups were specializing in in 67 and 68. So “Eastern” is ‘Love’ that the Lotus Sutra can be heard being chanted in the background.
Another Deram band that only lasted for two 45s – but had a lasting influence all the same – were the mighty Syn. I remember picking up this 45 (which was looking well hashed) for a pittance and being thrilled when I got it home and found that it didn’t skip. ‘Grounded’ is one of the greatest popsike tunes ever recorded (covered 20 years later by New Jersey’s own Mod Fun), and the flip, a version of ‘Created By Clive’ (also recorded by the Attack) is also excellent. Someday, when the record gods are smiling down on me I may find a copy of their other 45, the brilliant ’14 Hour Technicolour Dream’. By the way, the ‘lasting influence’ I mentioned above comes by two of the Syn – Peter Banks and Chris Squire – going on to be founding members of Yes.
Another group that spawned a future hitmaker was the Outer Limits. The recorded two 45s for Deram, the first being ‘Just One More Chance’ (which will be featured in part 2) b/w ‘Help Me Please’. The group’s leader and songwriter, Jeff Christie -as leader of the band Christie – went on a few years later to have a major hit (#1 in the UK, Top 20 in the US) with the tune ‘Yellow River’. The heavy sound of ‘Help Me Please’ provides a stark contrast to ‘Just One More Chance’ which was a minor hit in the UK, as well as being covered by a couple of groups, including the Hondells in the US.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip closes out with the flipside of a 45 I featured in the last Digital Trip, namely ‘Girl Don’t Make Me Wait’ by Timebox. The song in this mix is the much psych-ier ‘Gone Is The Sad Man’. A truly brilliant bit of popsike, with a great melody, catchy chorus and some trippy phasing.
I hope you dig the mix, and keep your ears peeled for more of the same in the not too distant future.