John Wonderling on the cover of his 1973 LP
Welcome to a groovy new week here at Iron Leg.
Today’s selection is one of those records that I chase FOR YEARS, never really expecting to find a copy.
Flash back – if you will – to the mid-80s when my garage/mod brethren and I were first starting to dig the criminally underappreciated sounds of the Creation.
One of the cooler songs in the more psychedelic end of that band’s discography was a tune called ‘Midway Down’.
The tale of a trip to the circus, the version by the Creation has a hard-edged, UK mod pop sound with some of that heavy Eddie Phillips guitar.
Flash forward some years later, via a Rhino Handmade comp called ‘Hallucinations’ (which featured the tune ‘Man of Straw’) and I discover, much to my surprise that ‘Midway Down’ was not a Creation original, but rather a cover of a tune by an American named John Wonderling.
Wonderling, who hailed from New York recorded one 45 – ‘Midway Down’ b/w ‘Man of Straw’ – in 1968. It was released on Loma and then Warner Brothers.
I’m not sure how the song found its way to the Creation (recorded the same year), whether it was via the 45, or a publisher’s demo, but the two versions make an interesting contrast.
Wonderling’s original version has a softer, more psychedelic focus, opening with a calliope and moving along with a ringing rhythm guitar and pulsing organ, as well as lots of echoed, trippy vocals. Things get a little heavier in the chorus (there’s even a harmonica buried in the mix) but never quite as much as the Creation.
The flipside, ‘Man of Straw’ definitely has a UK psych sound to it, with the phased vocals, churchy organ and creepy lyrics about a scarecrow being taunted by a chorus of crows.
The copy I did finally land had seen better days (there are some pops) but I think you’ll dig the sounds.
Wonderling would go on to release a rare LP called ‘Day Breaks’ on Paramount in 1973.
That said, have a greet week and I’ll see you when I see you.