The Liverpool Scene
Listen – The Liverpool Scene – Come Into the Perfumed Garden Maud – MP3
The week is at last coming to a conclusion. Huzzah!
I don’t know about you, but I’m conflicted in my feeling about whoever it was in the dark, shadowy halls of history who divided up the week into two such lopsided pieces, with five of the seven days devoted to toil, one to pure fun and another into shutting half the world down so that the churches might be filled. I suspect it was the kind of person who volunteers for the hall monitor’s job, convinced that selling out the rest of us would secure them the favor of the power elite.
The tune I bring you today – and allow me to apologize in advance for the somewhat road weary condition of the vinyl, more on that in a moment– was part of my Massachusetts haul from last year. While plowing through piles and piles of soundtracks, easy listening, (bad) ethnic music (y’know, the Greatest Songs of the Lithuanian Army Mens Chorus or some such) I happened upon a familiar looking album cover, and extracted it from the pile so that I might examine it more thoroughly.
This was one of those weird cases where the image on the sleeve was more familiar than the group’s name, probably due to having seen it pop up in other collector’s “finds” posts on an interwebs message board. Since it was to be procured for the cost of single United States dollar, I figured that it was worth a risk, threw it on the keeper pile and took it home with me.
When I got home, and had a chance to play it, the sounds emitting from the headphones were so unusual, that I backed away from the turntable, and headed directly to the computer so that I might wrap my meathooks around the intertubes and squeeze out some information.
When I took a good look at the people on the cover (posted above) my first impression was of a bunch of the Queen’s hairier subjects, rousted from slumber in a squat somewhere, had been convinced to sit still just long enough so that a picture could be taken, after which they dispersed, never to gather in the same place again. As it turns out, I was only partly correct, since the Liverpool Scene were together long enough to record at least six albums, all a mixture of freak scene sounds and poetry (as it turns out, their stock in trade).
The ‘band’ had come up as part of a Merseyside poets scene, originally recorded basically as poets Adrian Henri and Roger McGough (later of the Scaffold) reading their work, accompanied by guitarist Andy Roberts (on the 1967 compilation, ‘The Incredible New Liverpool Scene’). UK radio legend John Peel heard the record and added it to the playlist of his Perfumed Garden (thus the title of today’s selection) program.
The group eventually coalesced into Henri (vocals), Roberts (guitar), Mike Evans (sax), Bryan Dodson (drums) and Percy Jones (bass), releasing their first album, ‘Amazing Adventures Of…’ in 1968.
Today’s selection comes from their 1969 LP ‘Bread On the Night’, which at first glance appears to be a compilation of several mythical bands (The Ragman’s Trumpet, Bobby and the Helmets, Brute Force and Ignorance, the Raving Gingers, the Spontaneous Rubbish Ensemble among others), until you read the fine print at the bottom of the back cover and see the listed personnel.
While much of the LP is, how do you say, ‘word’ heavy and somewhat (very) ‘loose’, ‘Come Into the Perfumed Garden Maud’ is entirely instrumental, and is in its own way a perfect distillation of the far out sounds of the UK in 1969. It’s like entering a house through a cloud of incense and hash smoke to discover an Eastern holy man tied up in the kitchen, a few gentle hippies cowering in the corner, while several drunken jazzmen attempt to play each other’s instruments, as psychedelia is roughly pushed out into the alley by progressive rock.
This is undeniably ‘head’ music, engineered to be broadcast during the ingestion of controlled substances, which is why I think the record found its way to me in such well worn condition. I can just imagine a group of college kids, all but one passed out on a dorm room floor, while the last, barely conscious member of the assemblage, seconds away from joining his pals on the rug, cues and re-cues the album, dropping and sliding the stylus all over the record (which had already been used to clean a bag of weed). The morning after, in a storm of regret the album is shoved under a sofa, where it was discovered thirty years later, and is taken to the used record store where I found it.
I dig it, and I hope you do to.
See you on Monday.