Strange Turn made their recording début with their reworking of the XTC Christmas classic 'Thanks For Christmas', available on the Mega Dodo album Home For Christmas. Since then they have been locked in a studio with nothing but some very strong tea and a boxed set of the Bam Caruso Rubble albums to sustain them. The first fruit of their recording adventures was a limited (100 copies) pink vinyl 7-inch single. A double A-side, the disc features an original composition, 'Pink Litmus Paper Shirt' and is backed with a rip roaring reading of Gene Clarke's 'Elevator Operator'. This was followed by a limited lathe cut single (50 copies) and CD 'The Stranger'. While the lathe cut 7-inch sold out on the day of release, Mega Dodo still have a few copies of 'Pink Litmus Paper Shirt' on 7-inch pink vinyl and 'The Stranger' on limited CD.
Staying with Mega Dodo for strange turn, last seen around these here parts courtesy of an appearance on that dandy sounding Christmas charity compilation put out by the Dodo dudes just before Xmas wherein they turned in a nifty re-reading of XTC’s forgotten yuletide nugget ‘thanks for Christmas’ . if I were you I‘d be putting in an early order for this for when it appears it‘ll come in a strictly limited 100 only pink vinyl pressing and I‘d be surprised if they survive past pre order status. What can I say about ‘pink litmus paper shirt’ – a strange freak beat flipped slice of pristine psych prog which in its initial dream sequences kicks like a Troggs reprobate and smokes like a Chocolate Watchband disciple replete with all manner of woozy side servings and wiring head fuzzed riff flotillas which dissipate into a glorious ‘I am the walrus’ hybrid speckled with shitfaced Jefferson styled soul coos, quite damaged if you ask me but in a good way. Over on the flip a rather fetching and faithful Gene Clark cover ’elevator operator’ awaits love and fondness. And why not given this is finitely cut, trimmed and tapered in softly slinky strut shimmers and kissed with a Monkees-esque power pop prowl all blessed with an addictively radio friendly catchy hook line.
Mark Barton: The Sunday Experience
After doing time “locked in a studio with nothing but some very strong tea and a boxed set of the Bam Caruso Rubble albums to sustain them,” the notable Sir Bastion Longfellow’s Strange Turn don their collective Pink Litmus Paper Shirt and get a lift from Gene Clark on their new single via Mega Dodo. Their debut on last year’s Home For Christmas was a clear indication that Strange Turn was right at home year ’round with Mega Dodo’s The Honey Pot, Icarus Peel and, of course, Mordecai Smyth. Pink Litmus Paper Shirt is a sparkling third-eye winking psych pop love-letter to the grooviest swingers of the day. Flashes of The Beatles, Syd and a wide spectrum of similar mischief makers who could dance with whimsy without looking like a limp clammy handed pixie. Strange Turn took their bow with an XTC song and that little pop band’s presence is still busy unwrapping presents long after the holiday. Given the color of the shirt here, it’s obvious that means XTC dressed up as the Dukes … and there is always room at the table for that. Pink Litmus Paper Shirt gets backed up by a sweet take of Gene Clark’s Elevator Operator that shows as much love for the source material as Strange Turn showed for their paper tailor.
Sunrise Ocean Bender.
Debut single from Strange Turn, which features members of The Honey Pot, including Crystal Jacqueline who is also known for her solo material out on Mega Dodo and Fruits de Mer. The single is on pink vinyl, the first 100 copies coming with a full colour poster and postcard. Pink Litmus Paper Shirt is a strongly 60s-influenced psych-pop track, featuring impassioned and soulful backing vocals from Crystal Jacqueline. Elevator Operator is an intense freakbeat version of a Gene Clark song, again with an authentically 60s flavour. A very promising debut; I look forward to hearing future offerings from this band. The single is available from megadodo.bandcamp.com; more info at www.mega-dodo.co.uk
There's very little factual information that I can furnish you with for this release as the members of Strange Turn (if indeed there are more than one of them) have up until now retained an air of mystery, so this review for their debut 7" is liable to take a more impressionistic turn.
An extremely limited edition of only 100 copies from the steadily expanding Mega Dodo label, "Pink Litmus Paper Shirt" sounds very much like the sort of thing one would expect to find in the next batch of Fruits de Mer label releases (not surprising, as Mega Dodo and Fruits de Mer do share artists around), with an extensive U.K psych influence (which the band admit, with the "Rubble" collections mentioned in their teeny press release).
The self composed a-side is a big, shiny pop-psych anthem which evolves from a concise, whimsical piece of pop-psych into a massive "I am The Walrus" style kaleidoscopic slow fade, with some particularly nice lyrical lead guitar work with a crisp, heavily chorused tone that David Gilmour would approve of.
The flipside accentuates the Beatles influence even more by featuring a cover of Gene Clark's most Beatlesque solo track "Elevator Operator" (the original of which has a middling reputation, but is much loved by this writer).
It'll be interesting to see what's up next for Strange Turn - for all I know this could be a one off side project from a more established band, but on the evidence of these two sides further output is to be encouraged.
Nathan Ford: Active Listener.
Strange Turn are based in the UK and headed up by Sir Bastion Longfellow. With the exception of their contribution to a Mega Dodo Christmas compilation it looks like this may be their first release. Pink Litmus Paper Shirt is a catchy psychedelic song that brings to mind a Neil Innes brand of Beatles, in that damn good but let’s have fun with it way. The lyrics, vocals and general vibe have that feel, though Bevis Frond comes to mind as well. It’s got a great melody, guitar, organ and cool freaky I Am The Walrus styled effects. For the flip side we have a cover of Gene Clarke’s Elevator Operator, which is largely faithful to the original, except Strange Turn amp up the guitar and organ on the psychedelo-meter. I hope these guys are working on a full length. Vinyl junkies should note that the single is pressed on pink vinyl, comes with an A3 full color poster, postcard and litmus strip, and is limited to 100 copies.
There is a dearth of information about Strange Turn. All that I can determine is that they are a UK-based band that has just released their debut hot pink vinyl 7-inch on Mega Dodo. The A-side is their original five-minute tune “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt” and the B-side is a cover of Gene Clark’s (of the Byrds) “Elevator Operator” released in 1967. From high school chemistry, everyone should remember that litmus paper turns pink when it touches acid, so that should give you a general idea. “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt” is a psych pop song with Strange Turn singing the title as a repeating refrain. Eventually you hear “I’m feeling so inert in my pink litmus paper shirt” that you know the mind games have begun. Then the song gets trippy by wandering off into “I Am the Walrus” territory with whispered voices and sound bites accompanied by multi-tracked and reversed music. The flip side is a faithful cover of Gene’s song (it sounds almost identical), but Strange Turns takes it bit further into the 60s garage-psych-pop world. This 7-inch is a teaser. I want to hear more from this new band.
Henry Schneider: Expose
UK band STRANGE TURN is one of those bands that appears to have a desire to stay fairly anonymous, as their presence on the internet isn’t dramatically visible and their label Mega Dodo aren’t all that up front with information either. The band leader is referenced as answering to the name of Sir Bastion Longfellow, and the single “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt” from May 2014 is the first recording they have issued as a standalone product to my knowledge.
As Mega Dodo Records focus on psychedelic music, it’s not all that surprising that we’re taken on a ride transporting us 50 years or so back on this occasion. The A side track, Pink Litmus Paper Shirt, is one of those charming affairs that use all the elements you would expect from a band with an affection for late 60’s psychedelic rock, with firm staccato guitar licks and a hovering subtly sickly sounding organ as the key elements, with subtly naive sounding lead and backing vocals given plenty of room. In this case with an elongated, cinematic-oriented and at times subtly chaotic yet smooth end sequence.
B-side Elevator Operator is more of a time proven affair, a cover of a song originally penned by The Byrds member Gene Clark. In this case this song is a tight, vibrant affair where the plucked dark toned guitar details, organ bursts and controlled lead and backing vocals adds a distinct Beatles-like atmosphere to the proceedings, possibly with a touch of rockabilly as well.
In sum a pleasant affair, how much so depending on personal taste I’d suspect. If you have a strong affection for late 60’s psychedelic rock with a subtly naive and distinctly English sound to it, then this is a single you might want to seek out. For those keen on physical possessions I should probably point out that a mere 100 copies were pressed though, and I don’t know how many that are left in stock.
My rating: 70/100
House Of Prog