The World of Oz
Listen/Download – The World of Oz – Jack
The heat wave continues here on the East Coast, and I find myself feeling old as I explain to my six year old son that I grew up in a house without air conditioning (when such a thing was fairly common). This of course after having to detail life in a world without personal computers, DVDs in the car, iPods and on, and on, and I think I sprout a few more white hairs every time I think about it.
The strange thing (more likely ONE of the strange things) about the subject matter of this blog (and Funky16Corners) is that the vast majority of what I write about here comes from my early childhood (mostly between the ages of 2 – 1964 – and 8 – 1970), and as such has been absorbed largely in retrospective fashion.
Some of this digging has come from “digging”, i.e. heading out into the field and grabbing records of a distant vintage, and some (most of the stuff I first grooved upon during the 1980s garage/mod thing) via compilations.
In the garage realm, we’re talking about your Pebbles, Back From the Graves and those of their ilk.
On the psychedelic tip, the biggies – at least for me – were the original British Psychedelic Trip, through which I first heard any number of bands I later tracked down 45s by, like the Outer Limits, Virgin Sleep and today’s artists, the World of Oz.
Oddly enough, the first World of Oz song I ever heard was one I never really cared for a whole lot, the uber twee ‘Muffin Man. Years later, when I scored a copy of that 45, I flipped it over to find the far superior ‘Peter’s Birthday’ (featured here, scroll down to #9).
The World of Oz recorded three 45s and one LP for Deram, in many ways the UK Psyche label of record (no pun intended) in 1968 and 1969. They hailed from Birmingham in the UK, and their sound butted right up against the border that lay between psychedelia and prog.
The subject matter on their 45s was suitably whimsical, covering nursery rhymes, the world of myth and the lives of children, all well represented in the genre.
A buddy of mine runs a periodic record sale out of his garage, and family plans a few Saturdays ago put that sale in my path, so I was duty bound to stop by. I always like to prowl through his crates as I find them to be a reliable source for groovy soul jazz, but this time, in addition to a couple of funky 45s, I found (at a low price, much to my delight) the second World of Oz 45, with a picture sleeve (seen above). Like my similar find some years ago of the Timebox 45 of ‘Gone is the Sad Man’ (also with a picture sleeve) this was a Dutch issue on Deram.
As it turns out, the World Of Oz, like some of their contemporaries (like the Creation and the Equals) were more popular on the continent (especially Holland) than they were in their home country.
I’d heard the single’s a-side – the Procol Harum-esque – ‘King Croesus’ before, but the flipside (which you see before you) was new to me. When I got it home and gave it a spin, I was knocked out when the needle hit the music and the first thing I heard was a veritable sample (replayed, in the old school stylee) of Joe South’s ‘Mirror of Your Mind’. The riff isn’t exactly the same, but it’s close enough that one must have inspired the other.
That said, the song quickly departs the homage and turns into a wonderful slice of 1968 ‘child’s world’ psyche, about Jack’s trip to the playground with his grandparents. The arrangement (by Mike Vickers of Manfred Mann) is psyche-pop perfection, with great horns and strings (never over-used) and of course the wah-wah guitar of the introduction.
Very groovy indeed, and I hope you dig it.
I’ll see you on Monday.