Psychedelia Obscura

Psychedelia Obscura.

Re-reading my first discourse on Psychedelia I felt I may have, perhaps, erred on the safe side by including the Beatles, Donovan and Grace Slicks early work but then, they are all pretty classic psychedelic tracks!! So, with this I've delved into some of the more obscure tracks in my vinyl collection (except the couple marked *). There's the 'acid folk' of Vashti and Trisha, the 'garage' of Painted Faces and early Love and then the 'out there' sounds of Misunderstood, Electric Prunes and Lothar and the Hand People. I've also included a few UK goodies, especially the Pretty Things classic 1967 single 'Defecting Grey'. On the 'commercial' side there's the Number 1ers Lemon Pipers from the US and the UK's T Rex in their 'crossover' period between hippie faves Tyrannosaurus Rex and the teeny-boppers they became. Prepare for a full blown, dayglo, paisley patterned journey over the next sixteen tracks and, like, enjoy the trip, maaan!!

Vashti: 'I'd like to walk around in your mind'. Unreleased Immediate label single, Recorded mid 1965, released on 'Some things just stick in your mind' October 2007

How many 'folk' singers, I wonder, have been name-checked in a Half Man, Half Biscuit song (check out "Totnes Bickering Fair" from the 2008 album 'CSI: Ambleside.') or, because of their involvement in the back-to-the-land counterculture of the 1970s, have the 'insightful nature' of their work discussed in an academic paper (see 2009's "Glow-worms show the path we have to tread": the counter-urbanisation of Vashti Bunyan', Social and Cultural Geography 10: 771–789 by respected geographer Keith Halfacree)? Not many, so... step forward Ms Vashti Bunyan, progenitor of 'acid-folk', descendant of novelist John Bunyan (untrue, unfortunately) and not even a one hit wonder back in the 60's. Nowadays, of course, Vashti is much more 'famous'. Her friends, associates and acolytes include Devendra Banhart (who allegedly writes Vashti's name on her fore-arm before going on stage!), the bands Lush, Saint Etienne, Animal Collective and Massive Attack to name just a few. However, it wasn't always like that. Back in 1963 Vashti was asked to leave the Ruskin School of Drawing at Oxford University due to her over-riding interest in music which was affecting her art studies. Whilst visiting her sister in New York she heard, for the first time, the music of Bob Dylan and immediately began to see herself as an aspiring musician. Moving back to the UK in 1965 she began appearing in London's folk clubs where, after his success with another wispy voiced siren called Marianne Faithfull, she was approached by manager/scene maker Andrew Loog Oldham, then on the look out for a replacement for the now recalcitrant Miss F. Dubbing her 'the new Marianne Faithfull' and/or 'the new Bob Dylan' (not the last time that phrase would be used!!!), Vashti was, you guessed it, given a Jagger/Richard song to cover (the then unreleased 'Some things just stick in your mind' featuring James Page Esq on guitar) which, along with its follow up, 'Train Song', failed to chart despite appearances on RSG and regular plays on Pirate Radio. Even an uncredited duet with then hot duo Twice as Much (the superb 'Coldest night of the year') failed miserably. Much demoing, a guest appearance in the hip psychedelic expose' 'Tonite lets all make love in London' and further gigs did not see any improvement in Vashti's fortunes and so, despite the entreatments of her folkie friends, Vashti, her boyfriend and dog loaded up a 'gypsy' caravan and slowly retreated into the Scottish Highland sunset, never to be heard of again for around 30 years...., except she wrote and recorded an 'all star' album whilst trotting along. Produced by Joe Boyd in 1970, and featuring Dave Swarbrick, Simon Nichol and Robin Williamson, 'Just another diamond day' promptly joined her other recordings in obscurity. And that was it, until her album began to attract prices of over $3000 dollars on the internet and was subsequently re-released on CD in 2000. A tie in advertisement for T-Mobile in 2008 saw her star in the ascendancy and she began recording new material as well as releasing over 30 unissued tracks from the mid/late 60's. Since then she has released just three more albums and, despite many guest appearances and concert tours, announced her retirement from recording in 2014.

Golden Dawn: 'My Time'. Recorded mid 1966. released on International Artists May 1968 (US only). Decal Records (UK) 1988. 'Power Plant' album.

A total contrast here in musical terms but, again, someone who had to wait many years for a modicum of fame (well, a tiny little bit amongst psych collectors!). Taken from the bands debut, nay... only album ('Power Plant'), recorded mid 1966 but held back until 1968, this would definitely have put the band amongst the contenders if it had been released on completion. And, I hear you ask, just why wasn't it unleashed on to the masses of the great unwashed? Well, the band, and it's lead singer George Kinney, were not only friends with the legendary Austin Texas band the 13th Floor Elevators (especially lead singer Roky Erickson), they were also signed to the same label, International Artists, whose budgets were on the tiny side. Mid '67 saw the completion of recordings for the Elevators much anticipated follow up to the 'Psychedelic sounds of...' album, 'Easter Everywhere', but mixing problems, along with (ahem) 'personal differences', saw delay after delay and, with money being tight, the label decided to hold 'Power Plant' back pending that much anticipated albums release in late '67. Strangely, it was then held back again until after the Elevators third album, the critically discredited 'Live' in April 1968, a decision which surely killed any momentum the band may have built up through the gig circuit. Stylistically, 'Power Plant' now sounds like 'Psychedelic sounds of...'s little brother but, in many ways, it is a more satisfying collection than either of the Elevators last two studio albums. Produced by Leland Rogers (brother to Kenny....), the album gets off to a great start with 'Evolution', all tinkling wind chimes until the guitars enter, at which point the chimes get more discordant and louder as the tune takes off. However, for your delectation, I've plumped for side 2 opener 'My Time', an unapologetic, hi-energy Beatle-ish rocker with lyrics which echo those of Vashti's song with the opening gambit 'It has been running through my mind / That you're not my kind / But I don't mind / It's just that I'm doing fine / Inside my mind / It's my time / My time, my time, my time....' before launching into a fine 'raga' style solo. A superb debut album with a great sleeve (featuring giant MJ leaves and a forest of magic mushrooms) which had to wait 11 years for its UK release. Shame......

Lemon Pipers: 'Through with you'. Released March 1968 on Buddah 'Green Tambourine' album.

Here's The Lemon Pipers, or 'The Cincinnati Underground arrives' as the sleeve heralds (OK, not quite up there with the LA sound, SF sound or even the Boss Town Sound!!), the purveyors of all things fruity, veggie and, errrr, colour-ly(?) in a fantastic eight minute Byrds-ian extravaganza unlike any of the Green, Rice or Blueberry type connotations for which they are more well known. Formed in Oxford (Ohio), the original four piece band gained a cult following playing Who and Byrds covers and gigging regularly at Cincinnati's underground clubs The Ludlow Garage and the Mug Club in 1966 before releasing debut single 'Quiet Please' on the local Carol label. New recruit Dale Browne steered the band into the clutches of the ultra commercial Buddah label which saw them playing the larger West Coast venues alongside Traffic, Spirit, Moby Grape and the Grateful Dead but Buddah had something else in mind! Having already signed the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Ohio Express, head honcho Neil Bogart manipulated the band towards compositions by Brill Building songwriters Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz (purveyors of what was to soon be labelled 'bubblegum' music) after the failure of UK born lead guitarist Bill Bartlett's 'Turn around and take a look' opening single. The band reluctantly recorded 'Green Tambourine', watched it soar to No 1 worldwide, sell two million copies and, there-after, ensure the band where always associated with the 'bubblegum' sound which followed. Their albums, however, showed the duality of their position. '...Tambourine', its follow up 'Rice is nice' and several sound-a-likes were included on the debut album 'Meet...' but, alongside them were gems such as 'Fifty year void', from the Leka/Pinz team, the a-typical 'Shoemaker of Leatherware Square', 'Shoeshine Boy' (fetish alert?) and from band supporter and future Rolling Stone contributor Eric Ehrmann, 'Ask me if I care'. There were further minor hits, a second, equally schizophrenic album (including an extended version of Goffin and Kings 'I was not born to follow' and the 11+ minute "Dead End Street"/"Half Light") before the band folded in 1970. Their only other claim to fame is the Ram Jam recording of 'Black Betty', recorded by several band members as Starstruck, which was reworked by the Kasenetz Katz duo to give them a final chart placing in 1977. One does wonder what the band may have produced if they had signed to a more sympathetic label, especially as Bartletts 'Through with you' bears all the hallmarks of where the Byrds would take 'Eight Miles High' several years later.

Love: 'It's the marlin, baby'. various 'bootleg' appearances. This version LSD Records single released 2000

And so, from the (almost) sublime to the (frankly) ridiculous!! Love were, to all intents and purposes, a band 'of' the psychedelic era, not really a psychedelic 'band'. However, much of their music, including their earlier folk rock and garage material, is regularly included in the genre, probably due to lead singer/band leader Arthur Lee's lyrics and downright strange attire (unlaced hiking boots, army fatigues, prismatic lensed sunglasses etc) as well as their regular appearances at all the 'hip' venues in LA. Lee had formed Love in 1965 after meeting local guitarist Johnnie Echols and, around this time the pair went into the studio with several session men to record a jingle for the AMC Marlin automobile. The tune is a sort-of 'dance-craze' send up, in line with material the Beach Boys were amusing themselves with on the then concurrent 'Party' album but, with the passage of time (and regular bootleg and semi-legit releases) it has become something of a psychedelic totem. Prior to Love, Lee had formed the LAG's and Lee's American Four (no recordings exist) as well as producing Rosa Lee Brooks soul classic 'My Diary' featuring new best friend Jimi Hendrix on guitar. He also composed 'Feathered Fish' for local LA band the Sons of Adam who would soon lose their drummer Michael Stuart to Love. 1966 would be Love's biggest year in chart terms with 'Little Red Book' and the mighty '7 and 7 is' achieving Top 50 placings on the US charts. The following year, however, would see Love (despite rampaging heroin addiction within the band) eventually complete their now recognised masterwork 'Forever Changes' which, in common with 'Good Vibrations', 'Pet Sounds' and 'River Deep, Mountain High' achieved much greater recognition in the UK than in the US. For an in depth look at the story of Love (and the Sons of Adam) I heartily recommend Stuarts book, the heftily titled 'Love: Behind the Scenes: On the Pegasus Carousel with the Legendary Rock Group Love'. If you can't find it... I have a copy!!!

Misunderstood- 'Find a hidden door.' Recorded 9th September 1966, Released on Cherry Red 'Before the dream faded' album 1982

And speaking of books, some bands ought to have a book or movie about them.... in fact, there IS a book about the Misunderstood ('Like, Misunderstood' by Mike Stax) and a film is still in preparation with the original screenplay being the basis of the book! It's difficult for me to be brief at any time but, with the Misunderstood I will try. In 1965, ex-patriate John Ravenscroft, ex-clerk at a cotton manufacturing plant and ex-insurance salesman, conned his way into San Bernadino's KMEN station as their regular 'Beatle expert' following similar stints at radio stations in Dallas and Oklahoma. Whilst there he befriended local bands the North Side Moss and the Mystics. During a break between sets a new band, the Misunderstood, played a short set and, in Ravenscroft's words, 'It was like one of your St Paul on the way to Damascus moments.... they were stunning'. In early '66 he started booking the bands gigs and arranged several demo sessions, one of which featured Glenn (Ross) Campbell's bottleneck guitar emitting squalls of feedback whilst the rest of the band took a break in the corridor outside!! Determined to get them more well known he shipped them off to his mother’s flat in London, neglecting to tell his mother first..... result? Four longhairs were left standing in the street under Ravenscroft's mothers flat for eight hours whilst she tried in vain to contact him in the US. Eventually the band would play in London's top psychedelic clubs, regularly watched by members of the Yardbirds (who had formed the basis of the Misunderstood act back in America) and Pink Floyd, who would soon begin to feature sounds very similar to Campbells as well as extending the use of the light show, which Misunderstood had primitively rigged through their guitars and amps. 'Find a hidden door' features novel 'three part' lead vocals, stunning guitar work and a nagging stop start rhythm quite unlike most of the releases of the time and, considering the general output of UK bands at the time, shows how far ahead their American counterparts were. Just six tracks were recorded professionally by the band for Fontana before it all collapsed but that's another story for another time.... oh, and John Ravenscroft? Well, he became better known as professional scouser and radio DJ John Peel of course!

Electric Prunes: 'Get me to the world on time'(live) *. Recorded December 14th 1967. Released on Heartbeat Productions 1997 'Live in Stockholm 1967' album

Here's a fantastic live version of the 'Prunes (as we like to call 'em) second single, recorded in Stockholm December 14th 1967, right at the top of their game both vocally and, more importantly, instrumentally. Given the opportunity to stretch out, the band pack this tune full of guitars on feedback and the usual great Wyman-esque bass guitar runs first heard on those initial two mind blowing singles. Unfortunately, in common with the Lemon Pipers, the band were coerced into recording material from outside sources, some of which (excluding those two classic singles) was decidedly not what the band would have preferred to release. Step forward the rather respectable looking Anette Tucker and Nancy Mantz. Tucker had booked the then unknown 'Prunes to play at a surprise birthday party for her husband and was so impressed she offered to write some material for them when approached by the bands producer Dave Hassinger. Tucker and Mantz were instructed to 'write different kinds of songs for the album' which explains the presence of tracks such as 'Toonerville Trolley' (as camp as the title sounds!), 'The king is in his counting house' and 'Sold to the highest bidder'. It's just a pity the band weren't offered some of the duo's other compositions such as 'I ain't no miracle worker' (Brogues/Chocolate Watch Band), 'Green Light' (American Breed) and 'High on love' (Knickerbockers); what an improvement to the album any or all of those would have made! Back to the 'Prunes.... it was only a year or so later that they found out that they had little or no right to the band name which led to producer/composer David Axelrod 'taking over' the bands name and releasing two (mildly) controversial rock opera albums ('Mass in F Minor' and 'Release of an oath') with virtually no band involvement resulting in much disillusionment within and, eventually, dissolution of the band after just one more, totally superfluous album. A final note: just before the Stockholm date, December 2nd to be precise, the band played a 'double header' concert in these here parts. The initial show was at Cromer Links Pavilion followed later that evening by a performance at Norwich Gala...….. so, in just twelve months Norfolk had played host to Hendrix, Cream, Page era Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and the Who! Those were the daze!!!!!

Neighb'rhood Childr'n: 'Can't buy me love'. Recorded 6th May 1967. Released mid 1997. Sundazed Records. 'Long years in Space' album

Some bands achieve greatness, others have it snatched away...… others, however, never achieve it no matter how much their talents merit it. The Childr'n probably don't fit exactly in to any of those categories, they didn't achieve, lose or have talent in abundance but, that doesn't belittle the few recordings the band made in June 1967 at Hollywood's famed Golden State Recordings with the 'infamous' in-house team of Leo Kulka and Larry Goldberg. Starting out in Medford (Oregon) in 1962 as surf band The Navarros, they recorded just one single (an Ike and Tina cover called..... 'Ikey') for the tiny local Corvallis label and gigged locally until, after a gig at Dunsmuir's Little black Egg Club (named after a record by garage band The Nightcrawlers in 1965 fact fans!) the band decided to de-camp to Haight Ashbury and 'check out the scene, man'!!! Fortune started to smile on the band and soon they were in the studio recording an album (including, at the studios insistence, a version of 'Over the rainbow' which the band then proceeded to acid-ize), appearing at LA's the Troubadour and SF's legendary Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom. Despite tours with the Beau Brummels, Grass Roots (both folk rock progenitors), the Who and Iron Butterfly there was no commercial breakthrough, despite the band having, in joint lead vocalist Dyan Hoffman, a singer the equal of Jefferson Airplanes Grace Slick. What they didn't have, however, was the clout of RCA behind them and, despite critical acclaim the band started the inevitable path towards smaller clubs and diminishing returns. A name change to White Horse and a second, back to basics unreleased album was the final effort until, in 1970, they folded altogether. This track comes from a fine double album, released in 1997 on Sundazed (natch!!), which includes not only the first album but also a slew of unreleased demo's, of which the prime cut is this psychedelicized, slowed down cover of the Fabs world wide chart topper which I 'held back' from my earlier 'How to get a hit' article for just this occasion.

Next up: Two bands with the same name, whose recordings were around a year and 5000 miles apart.

Factory (US): 'Hey girl'. * Recorded 18th August 1966, Bizarre/Straight Records The Factory featuring Lowell George CD 1993 (This from Edsel Records 1993 UK issue)

Here's future Mother of Invention guitarist and Little Feat main man Lowell George in the studio performing a live audition for Frank Zappa and manager Herb Cohen on the 18th August 1966 (just over two weeks after my 19th birthday fact fans!!). From the recorded evidence, it looks like the band took just three numbers to impress FZ enough to welcome them into the Straight label fold and start preliminary recordings a few weeks later. They had auditioned in front of Marshal Leib at UNI Records TT&G studio's in February '66 which led to the release of a couple of singles and appearances (as the Bedbugs) in the 'wacky' TV series 'F Troop' and as themselves (live in a 'groovy' club) in the equally 'wacky' Gomer Pyle before UNI's interest cooled. At Straight Records Zappa oversaw the recording of Factory's initial (Captain Beefheart influenced?) single 'Lightning Rod Man', all proto psych at the start, morphing into folk/rock, dulcimers and flutes with FZ 'doo-wopping' liquidly away in the background... an instant classic! 'Hey Girl', on the other hand, shows that the band must have taken in some shows either by Love (as this is prime '7 and 7 is' era material) or then current LA hot-shots, The Rising Sons (featuring Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal), garage-y with just enough freakiness on the guitar solo. Nice!! However, inertia began to set in as Zappa moved on to other projects during 1968 (The GTOs, Alice Cooper, Wild Man Fischer and Beefheart to name a few) and, by 1969, the band were recording material more in common with their future destination as Little Feat, a destination they reached in late 1969 after FZ allegedly fired Lowell George from Straight for including references to drugs (FZ was, surprisingly, vehemently anti drugs) in his new composition 'Willin''. This led to the band signing with Warner's in early 1970 and releasing their now well respected self titled debut album in early 1971.

Bonus clip: The Bedbugs:

Meanwhile, here in the UK;

Factory (UK): 'Path through the forest' ('restored' original version). Recorded September 1968. Released on Headstogether mini-album 1996 'Complete Recordings'

The 'other' Factory were still almost schoolboys when Zappa was auditioning their US counterparts and, in fact, their drummer was only 16 and their lead guitarist Ian Gates, at 17, was still fresh from school when the band released this acclaimed psych monster. In 1965, Brian Carroll joined the 'cutting' team at the IBC Studios, quickly befriending the more experienced Damon Lyon-Shaw. After cutting the first two Hendrix albums and The Who's 'Live at Leeds' amongst others, the pair decided to try to find a group they could produce themselves. Whilst attending a party Carroll was approached by Gates who commenced to talk up his band and, finding out that Carroll lived in North London, invited him to an upcoming gig in that area. Running through their Hendrix/Who (and others) set list convinced Carroll that here was the basic material they could utilise to pursue their future plans. Amongst a pile of demo's at IBC was a song (composer unknown) entitled 'Path through the Forest' which the band laid down in a couple of days in September 1968. Not content with the basic recording, Carroll and Lyon-Shaw commenced adding a plethora of 'forest' noises' to the disc, presented it to the label bosses at MGM and were more than disappointed when their 'extended' mix was rejected. However, the original recording was deemed acceptable and was released on 26th October garnering several good reviews in the music press but, unfortunately, no plays on the radio. So, into the studio the trio trooped, this time to record two songs by John Pantry, one time member of Leigh on Sea r&b band Peter and the Wolves but, at that time, a respected engineer at IBC who had worked with the Small Faces, Bee Gees and Barry Ryan amongst others. Pantry supplied them with 'Try a little sunshine' and 'Red Chalk Hill', the top side being a fairly obvious ode to the drug de jour LSD but, despite the merits of this superior melange of the Who and Moody Blues (the best parts of both) the radio once again passed and, other than a few demo's, that was the final act for the Factory. However, in 1995, Carroll received a package of tapes from an old friend called Bilbo (check the run out grooves to many of your favourite 60's/70's albums) or, to use his proper name, Denis Blackham, and in conversation they got around to discussing the 'missing' extended version of 'Path....'. Bilbo disclosed he still had an acetate of the original mix and so, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a full blown restoration was made and here, for you delight, is that restored original mix.....

Tyrannosaurus Rex. 'Elemental child'. Recorded early 1970. Regal Zonophone label. 'Released 13th March 1970.Beard of Stars' album.

OK, who needs further information from me about Tyrannosaurus Rex? Thought not but, if you do want to know about 'elfin' Marc Bolan, check out my 'It's a mod, mod...' article. Here's a (late) psychedelic goodie which had been premiered on a BBC 'In Concert' programme in early 1970, several months before appearing on the 'Beard of Stars' album. After this number John Peel was heard to mutter 'Scotty Moore would be proud of you' to which I would add, so would Hendrix, Page and Cochran!!! At the time of recording the BoS album the 'chemically imbalanced' bongo-ist Steve Peregrine Took was replaced by Mickey Finn. Little did Mickey know in early 1970 that, within 18 months, he would be supplanted by a full electric band as Marc lived out his rock and roll fantasies held in check since his short tenure with Johns Children. By that time Mickey was shunted to stage left, separate from the group, and left to rattle away inaudibly on his percussion. I had been lucky enough to see Tyrannosaurus Rex on two occasions at Sheffield's City Hall. Initially, on October 15th 1970 (and billed for the first time as 'T.Rex, formerly...') around 4 or 5 of us went (cost 50p each!!) and witnessed the duo perform almost a whole acoustic set whilst seated cross-legged on the floor until 'King of the Rumbling Spires' and 'Elemental Child' were trolleyed out. Talk about chaos...… when Marc had finished ringing the neck of his Gibson Les Paul the 4-500 crowd erupted in cheers, and those cheers were still ringing out around 20 minutes later, causing the management to call in the police to clear the hall. That, however, was small beer compared to the May 17th 1971 concert where, instead of 4 or 5 of us, I raised a 48 seater bus load of kids from our village, eager to see this 'new' phenomenon T-Rexstacy!!! That concert was total pandemonium with security hauling fainting kids from the stage front during the opening bars. Us 'older' fans, of course, were too cool to welcome Marcs' entry into the hallowed hall of fame where, for just a few years, he was allowed to realise all the dreams he had from his time as Toby Tyler onwards (again, see my 'It's a mod mod....' discourse for further info) until, eventually, the formula begin to wear thin and punk replaced 'glam' in the nations consciousness. Finally, and apropos of nothing, whilst loading the bus at the village crossroads, who should be stood there looking non-plussed but my future wife Susan!! It has remained a sore point since that time that she didn't know we were organising the outing but everything turned out OK when, a few months later, Sue asked me to accompany her to a John Mayall gig....

Pretty Things: 'Defecting Grey'. Recorded mid 1967. Columbia single. Released November 1967, This taken from 'Rubble Volume 2' compilation released 1992

Just prior to commencing the recording of the first ever 'concept album' ('S.F.Sorrow') the Pretty Things released quite possibly two of the finest ever UK psychedelic singles in 'Defecting Grey' and 'Talking about the good times'. Yep, Big Boy Pete's 'Cold Turkey', the Floyds initial two releases and sundry others all stand in high regard, 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is on a plane of it's own but 'Defecting Grey' in particular is, quite simply, superb in many ways. Atmospheric, adventurous, heavy with contrasting lightness.... and, to top it all the first multi-tempo-ed single ever (beating Queens 'Bo-Rap by a number of years). And, lets not forget the lyrical importance.... here's a story of an attempted gay pick/hook up in a park at a time when the Sexual Offences Act had only recently become law. Vocalist Phil May is quoted as saying about the track, "That's about somebody who we used to call "Grey", somebody, like, who does a job. Grey suit...….. And this was somebody, like people we've met, who suddenly realized that everything they'd lived for, and were brought up to believe in, possibly wasn't right. And this guy was actually going from being very straight to becoming homosexual, or his homosexual side was coming out. But of course on the record, nobody picked that up. But it's "sitting alone on a bench with you, the brush of your hand, chasing shadows away", that's the story. But it didn't matter what people knew about it. It was our idea that made us make the music. 'Cause we knew what we were doing, what the story line was, we suddenly had something to work from". Producer Norman Smith (see Beatles, Pink Floyd and 'Hurricane' Smith) utilises all the experience he gained sitting alongside George Martin and the Beatles, and working with the embryonic Pink Floyd in 1966/7, to great effect. The intro was created by dropping a guitar on to the studio floor and recording the reverberating feed-back before morphing into a fairground waltz tempo. After May sets the (pastoral) scene all hell breaks loose with a deranged backwards guitar and 'oscillating' sitar sound. This unsettling single continues with further guitar explosions and solos until May returns with a few more verses followed by yet another tempo change and further guitar solos.... a stunning disc and, as a result, a total non-seller!!!!

The Smoke: 'High in a room'. Recorded early 1967. Released as Columbia single mid 1967. This from 'My friend Jack' compilation. Morgan Blue Town label 1988.

Yorkshire's finest psychedelic band? Probably...…. initially The Moonshots, later shortened to The Shots, the band were financed by local self made millionaire, car dealer and gravel pit owner Alan Brush who fancied a punt at 'this 'ere pop lark'. Brush's mansion in Essex was handed over as a rehearsal space, loaded with all the latest sound equipment and amplification and Lansdowne Studio's Monty Babson was summoned to see the band. Taking the bait, Babson recorded 'Keep a hold of what you've got/She's a liar' for their first EMI release in October 1965. The promised sales of 50,000 were never achieved and so EMI let the band go and, as a result, the band let go of Brush and retreated to York. Late '66 saw the band returning to London, and Babson, with a clutch of new songs and a slightly changed line up. Babson put the band in the studio again to run through some of their new material and, right at the end of the session, the band threw in 'My friend Jack'. Babson was hooked and, following a name change (The Smoke..... the band moving to London..... geddit??) the band were re-signed to EMI and in February 1967 the disc was released, right at the inception of all the 'heaven and hell drug' stories in the national press. Pirate radio played the single to death, the BBC banned it and, despite an appearance in the Top 50, EMI head honcho Sir Joseph Lockwood (not for the first or last time) issued a notice to pull the single. In Europe, however, the band went from strength to strength with the single remaining at No 1 for seven weeks in Germany. Their European label (Metronome) demanded an album ('It's Smoke time') which was cobbled together from the songs laid down at Lansdowne, including the drug induced paranoia tale 'High in a room', many of which gained European release as singles and the band continued to play sell out tours in Italy and Germany. In Britain though, only one more single ('If the weathers sunny') was issued by Columbia before the band became disillusioned with Babson and EMI yet again and, as a result, they were sold to Chris Blackwell's Island label. Island never really got behind the band, preferring to concentrate on Ska and the Spencer Davis Group, and only released two poorly promoted singles before Blackwell took the unusual management step to steal all the bands equipment, hence leaving them unable to fulfil their contractual obligations!! Various aggregations continued into the seventies, sometimes as studio hands for the Morgan Blue Town label/studio before the project was finally put to bed in the mid-seventies. Such was the legendary status of 'My friend Jack' however that some years later the song became a hit for those German Disco giants Boney M but I don't suppose the band minded the delayed pay day from the resultant royalties...….

Paupers: 'South Down Roads'. Recorded early 1968. 'Ellis Island' album Verve/Folkways label 1st July 1968. This from re-issue on Edsel Records 1989.

The Paupers sprang from Toronto, whose Yorksville district had a similar atmosphere to NYC's Greenwich Village and it's here, in the small bars and clubs where Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia and Neil Young served their apprenticeship alongside locals Zal Yanovsky and Robbie Robertson. Formed in 1964, the band were renowned for their rigorous work ethic, rehearsing 13 hours a day for up to 40 hours a week and, as a result, soon became Toronto's premier attraction. Several successful local singles were released over the next 18 months and, eventually, a deal was offered by Columbia (CBS) for a lone single. although it's unclear at this remove whether it was actually distributed. In 1966 the band de-camped to New York and signed to Verve Folkways and released 'If I call you by some name' which became a sizable hit back in Canada. As a result, the bands gigs became more prestigious, supporting Jefferson Airplane on their debut East Coast gig at the Café Au Go Go as well as headlining at other venues in the Big Apple, San Francisco and Detroit. Their excellent, varied debut album, 'Magic People', was released in1967 with several tracks being released as singles and garnering good reviews, so it was no surprise when the band were invited to play at the Monterey Festival that year. Early 1968 saw the band back in the studio to record 'Ellis Island', an album no less varied than 'Magic People' but somehow, despite a whole slew of great tracks, the momentum seemed to flag. Again, singles were released, both in the States and in the UK, but with only minimum sales the band's members began to sit in on other artists recordings including Ritchie Havens and Al Kooper, In 1968 the band collapsed with only bassist Brad Campbell going on to any kind of minor success as a member of Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band, her final back up, the Full Tilt Blues Band and it's latter, post Joplin outfit, the King Biscuit's Boys. Here, in all it's glory, is the opening track from the 'Ellis Island' album, 'South Down Roads'.... one of their fieriest numbers with multiple guitar 'tones' and solo's, a snatch of orchestration (which puts me in mind of Rain Parades mighty 1984 'No easy way down' opus) and a fine vocal from Glaswegian Adam Mitchell. I could have picked almost any track from either album, they really are that good, so good that an edited version of SDR was even released in the UK.... I'm still looking for that one!!!

Painted Faces: 'Anxious Color' Recorded April 1967. Released May 1967 Manhatton Records. This from 'Anxious Color' compilation. Distortions Label, released 1994.

A curious and slightly outdated disc here. Reverting to the mid-sixties 'garage band' sound, the 'Faces manage to update that with a pretty far-out lyric (check out this couplet: "There's anxious color waiting patiently, to be released, unsuspectedly. Ending dreams that have haunted me, I'll make the world like it's supposed to be...Color streaming from my MIND") and just a hint of psychedelia's burgeoning eastern/Indian vibe. Formed in Fort Myers, Florida in 1966, they quickly changed their name from the Fifth Dimensions when the other 5th Dimension hit the charts with 'Up, Up and away'. After a false start on The Qualicon label with 'Things we see' the band were signed by the infamous Mike Curb's Sidewalk Promotions, allegedly as a tax loss for Curb, and released this goodie in May 1967 and were rewarded with a huge Top Ten hit, for 14 weeks...… in Southwest Florida!!!! It also reached No 7 on the Los Angeles charts as well as receiving plenty of plays in Richmond, Boston and Chicago. Many times, discs with less plays had broached the US charts (based at that time on a sort of 'average' number of radio plays country-wide) so it's difficult to understand how this disc failed. An even better single 'I lost you in my mind' followed, along with gigs at NYC's Café Wha', Electric Circus and Fillmore East (with the band driving to and fro between NYC and Florida!!) but later singles were overlooked, primarily because of the less than subtle drug references contained in the lyrics. The band began, you've guessed, yeah?, painting their faces (eat your heart out Kiss!!!) and spending more time recording cash-in cover versions for Curb's Sidewalk and Tower outlets as well as further originals of their own. When Uncle Sam wiggled his finger at drummer Harry Bragg the band soon folded and that would have been the last we heard of the 'Faces, until some groovy US crate digger found a copy of 'Anxious Color'. As a result this track, and others, have been granted a release on many compilations and overviews of the bands own recordings.

Trisha: 'Confusion'. Recorded April 1965. Released May 1965 CBS Records single (this from 'Promotional' copy single)

Firstly, I can find absolutely no information at all regarding Trisha!!! Secondly... there's no 'Youtube' for 'Confusion' either so you'll just have to accept my review on, what was, one of 1965's most 'unusual' tracks. A full twelve months before Napoleon XIV's similarly unhinged novelty hit 'They're coming to take me away, ha, ha' single, and tucked away on the flip of a cover version of an unreleased Donovan song ('In the darkness of my night', AKA 'Breezes of Patchouli') is the sound of the 17 year old (and that's all the info I have!!) Trisha having an emotional breakdown, accompanied by crashing acoustic guitar, about the state of the world and, errr, everything else really!! One day there'll be a 'theme' at RPM where I'll be able to acquaint you with the delights of the breathy (if not severely asthmatic) Trisha but, until then, you'll have to listen to her delightful Faithfull-esque version of Don's 'Sunshine Superman' album out-take....

And now... time to say goodnight...…......

Lothar and the Hand People: 'Space Hymn'. Recorded 1969. Released Aug 1969 CBS Records 'Space Hymn' album. From See For Miles 'Machines/Space Hymn' comp.

Formed in Denver 1966, here was a band who were destined to never fit in with any scene. The 'Hand People' were the members of the band and 'Lothar'? Well that was the theremin featured as lead instrument on most of their songs! They were regulars at the Exodus bar, patronised by the students from the nearby University where one gig goer appeared to react violently each time the theremin was utilised. At first, the band just thought he was a keen fan but, over a period the band, became tired of his apparent 'freaking out' and asked a member of the audience just why this happened. It turned out that, following an accident, the fan had a metal plate inserted in his skull and, each time the theremin was played it had the effect of 'vibrating' the plate and sending him in to paroxysms. A date supporting the Lovin' Spoonful in early 1966 convinced the band a change of scene was required if they were going to make it big so they moved to NYC and secured a residency at the Nite Owl Cafe. LatHP were recommended to ex Animal Chas Chandler but, on the appointed night he turned up late and missed most of their set. After apologising and promising to catch the band the next night Chandler settled back to watch the support band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Of course, we know now that Jimmy James was the stage name for Jimi Hendrix and, needless to say, Chandler never did show for another performance. And this was a symptom of the bands future to come..... Elektra Records demo'd the band, promised a contract and then signed the Doors instead. Columbia took the bait, however, and released three unsuccessful singles before placing them in to the studio for an album with synthesiser wizard to be Bob Margouleff, who had access to the only Moog allowed for recording purposes at that time. Margouleff would go on to form The Original New Temporal Orchestra or, as it became known, Tonto's Expanding Headband with Robert Cecil and produce albums by Stevie Wonder, Devo, Jeff Beck, Quincy Jones and many others who required a synth 'expert'. But, back in the Hand People camp, the resulting album (cunningly entitled 'Presenting....') sold poorly, despite several good tracks. It's pioneering electronic sound on the track 'Machines', however, saw it achieve a top 100 placing in Mojo magazines most important psychedelic tracks. The follow-up album, 'Space Hymn' met the same fate and both albums were quickly deleted for many years. Within a year the band had split with members going on to careers in IT, house building, studio technicians and video production. Enjoy this invitation to relax and kick back.... especially following some of the more 'energetic' outings in this article.