Some Appropriate Kaleidoscopic Imagery…
Kaleidoscope – Flight From Ashiya (Decca)
Virgin Sleep – Halliford House (Deram)
Sauterelles – Dream Machine (London)
Apple – Buffalo Billycan (Page One)
Spooky Tooth – Sunshine Help Me (Mala)
Outer Limits – Just One More Chance (Deram)
World Of Oz – Peters Birthday (Black and White Rainbows) (Deram)
Dead Sea Fruit – Kensington High Street (Atco)
Tintern Abbey – Vacuum Cleaner (See For Miles)
Equals – The Guy Who Made Her a Star (RCA)
Soft Machine – Love Makes Sweet Music (Polydor)
I hope the dawning of a new week finds you well.
This new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip – number nine to be exact – is the long promised (but just now delivered) sequel to Trip #7 ‘Technicolour Dreams’. This one’s not terribly long (just about a half an hour) but it is – if I say so myself – very tasty indeed.
Herein I deliver another dose of UK psych nuggets (with a brief side trip to Switzerland for all you chocolate clock lovers) guaranteed to stir up all manner of lysergic, Carnaby Street trace memories nestled deep in your subconscious.
Things lead off with a 45 that is not only a personal fave, but also one of the great finds of my collecting years. Even back in the late 80’s when I scored ‘Flight From Ashiya’ b/w ‘Holidaymaker’ by the Kaleidoscope for – wait for it, here it comes… – a crisp ten dollar bill, I knew I was getting a steal, because this is not only a rare 45, but it is also a 45 of rare quality. During their years together (with several 45s and two LPs before they morphed into Fairfield Parlour) the Kaleidoscope, with the exception of the track ‘Faintly Blowing’ which is a sugarcube mindfuck to rival all comers, never laid down anything as brilliantly strange as ‘Flight From Ashiya’. The song is a deeply trippy ode to a strange airplane trip (and what seems like a “trip” on an airplane) that really is – alongside the one ultra rare 45 by Tintern Abbey – the ne plus ultra of 1960’s UK psychedelia.
Next up is the flip side of a 45 I featured in the earlier mix, ‘Halliford House’ by Virgin Sleep. Yet another brilliant psyche side on the Deram imprint, the tune is rumored to be about the inmates of an insane asylum.
If Switzerland’s Les Sauterelles are known at all, it’s for the song ‘Heavenly Club’ which appeared on one of the British Psychedelic Trip comps back in the 80’s. That’s a wonderful song to be sure, but I also dig its flip side ‘Dream Machine’.
‘Buffalo Billycan’ was the second 45 (in 1968) by the Welsh band Apple. They released a few 45s and one extremely rare LP all for the Page One label (later home to hitmakers Vanity Faire). I love the Beatle-y vibe and the trippy guitar sounds on this one.
Spooky Tooth were fairly popular in their day, releasing several albums between 1968 and 1974. Formed from the ashes of underground faves Art (‘Supernatural Fairytales’), members of that band joined with New Jersey-born Gary Wright (yes, the man that brought you ‘Dream Weaver’) and laid down the very heavy ‘Sunshine Help Me’, later covered by the Move.
The next track is another flip of a previously featured track, this time by the Outer Limits. The pure pop brilliance of ‘Just One More Chance’ stands in stark contrast to the much heavier ‘Help Me Please’. Written by group leader Jeff Christie (who went on to have a hit with the tune ‘Yellow River’) this is another one of those great songs that should have been a huge hit, instead of obscure, which it is. Interestingly enough I recently tracked down an unusual cover of this tune (unusual in the band doing the covering) that I’ll feature very soon.
The World of Oz is another interesting band that recorded for Deram (pretty much the “official” label of UK psyche). They recorded three 45s and an LP for the label, and specialized in often twee ‘toy shop’* psychedelia. ‘Peters Birthday’ is a little bit heavier (just a little, mind you) than its better known flipside ‘The Muffin Man’.
I can tell you almost nothing about the curiously named Dead Sea Fruit, other than the fact that their most excellent tune ‘Kensington High Street’ (which carries with it a tip of the hat to JS Bach) was written by none other than Pete Townshend of the Who.
Now…Tintern Abbey….If I EVER come across and original copy of their 45 – in my opinion the finest UK psyche 45 ever recorded – you will know because you will read about it in my obituary, in which they will recount how I pulled the record from a box and was immediately struck dead with shock. One of only two tracks in this mix culled from a secondary source (in this instance one of the ‘British Psychedelic Trip’ LPs, itself more than 20 years old), ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ is positively brilliant, decidedly trippy, and as I mentioned rare as the teeth of the hen. I couldn’t put together a mix like this without including it.
We return again to the sounds of the Equals. ‘The Guy Who Made Her a Star’ is a track from their first US LP (on RCA) and is one of their psych-ier outings with a great vocal by Derv Gordon and some very heavy guitar.
Things come to a close with another rare track – in this case pulled from a mid-70s German comp – by the Soft Machine. Better known for their progressive work in the early 70’s (often leaning in the direction of fusion) their earliest work is decidedly acid-inflected. ‘Love Makes Sweet Music’ is a heavy bit of work.
That all said, I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you soon.