Saturday, 24 June 2017

"Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sound Of 1967" (October 2016 Grapefruit 3CD Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Magic In The Air..."

The Summer of Love's 50th Anniversary has arrived in the Summer Of 2017. Well tickle my pink sideburns and stroke my soggy petunia - let's all run through fields with dandelion-stalks in our mouths toward the chocolate-bar trees with our crocheted doughnuts dangling in the wind while Granny takes a trip on the lysergic love-boat to Lewisham. Yeah baby...

England's 'Grapefruit' label is part of Cherry Red's pantheon of reissue companies and they're dedication to all things Psych, Hard Rock and hairy-bottomed Avant Garde has taken the collector's market by storm. I recently raved about their "I'm A Freak, Baby..." 3CD Box Set from July 2016 that offered up an amazing array of Heavy Psych and Hard Rock from the British Underground Scene between 1968 and 1972. A stone-to-the-bone five-star release if ever there was one – it comes housed in a beautifully presented clamshell box with a chunky booklet and great audio too (see review).

My point is that it was always going to be joined by an equally lunatic but worthy digital sibling. "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds..." is that spiritually connected follow-up but this time concentrating on just one pivotal year – 1967. Taking its name from lyrics in the song "Toyland" by The Alan Bown - Grapefruit have even managed to locate a Previously Unissued recording from the darlings of Mega-Money Psych 'Tintern Abbey' - a name that can make some collectors spontaneously genuflect and chant "I am so clearly not worthy..." a worrying number of times.

With a whopping 80-tracks to shake my ageing geranium at - there's a huge amount of detail to wade through. So once more my trippy-hippy paisley-pants wearing friends unto the LSD larynxes, lava lamps and love truncheons of barking-mad Blighty (and that's just Disc 1)...

UK released 20 October 2016 (27 October 2016 in the USA) - "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The Psychedelic Sounds Of 1967" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Cherry Red/Grapefruit CRSEGBOX033 (Barcode 5013929183308) is an 80-Track 3CD Compilation of Remasters housed in a Mini Clamshell Box Set that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (77:56 minutes):
1. Toyland - THE ALAN BOWN (October 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1355, A-side)
2. Magic In The Air - THE ATTACK (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
3. Sunway (Smokey Pokey World) - THE TICKLE (November 1967 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3004, A-side)
4. I Can See Through You - EPISODE SIX (October 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17376, A-side. Featured Ian Gillan and Roger Glover of Deep Purple)
5. The Madman Running Through The Fields - DANTALIAN'S CHARIOT (September 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8260, A-side. Features Zoot Money)
6. Dogs In Baskets - GERANIUM POND (Not original issued, recorded October 1967)
7. Eiderdown Clown - THE SCOTS OF ST. JAMES (September 1967 UK 7" single on Spot Records JW 1, B-side of "Timothy". Bassist Alan Gorrie later formed Average White Band)
8. Dear Delilah - GEORGE ALEXANDER (Previously unissued, recorded circa August 1967, pre Grapefruit Demo)
9. Pink Purple Yellow And Red - THE SORROWS (June 1967 UK 7" single on Piccadilly 7N 35385, A-side)
10. Lazy Man - THE MIRAGE (Not originally issued alternate version, recorded mid-1967)
11. Give Him A Flower - THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN (September 1967 UK 7" single on Track 604008, B-side of "Devil's Grip")
12. Tanya - TINTERN ABBEY (Previously unissued, recorded November 1967)
13. Prodigal Son - FLUER-DE-LYS (September 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56200, A-side. Featured Guitarist Bryn Haworth)
14. See The People - THE LOMAX ALLIANCE (May 1967 UK 7" single CBS Records 2729, B-side of "Try As You May". Featured Jackie Lomax)
15. Time To Start Loving You - THE MICKEY FINN (December 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3086, B-side of "Garden Of My Mind". The A-side is on the "I'm A Freak, Baby..." 3CD Box Set from July 2016 also on Grapefruit)
16. I Hear The Sun - THE FINGERS (Not originally issued, recorded June 1967. Featured Singer and Guitarist Richard Mills who formed CDR on Track 17) 
17. Nice - CROCHETED DOUGHNUT RING (October 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56204, A-side)
18. My House Is Burning - THE GOOD THING BRIGADE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
19. Ice Woman - THE MOTIVES (October 1967 Dutch-Only EP "The World Is A Trapezium" on Telstar Special Products LP 1021, 120 copies only)
20. Look At The Sun - LOUISE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967). Featured Tony Durrant of Fuchsia and Chris Cutler of Henry Cow)
21. I Won't Hurt You - NEO MAYA (September 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17371, A-side. A cover of a West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band song)
22. Path Through The Forest - CLIFF WARD (Not originally issued, recorded March 1967. Later had hits "Gaye" and "Wherewithal" as Clifford T. Ward)
23. Sanity Inspector (Single Version) - THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP (December 1967 UK 7" single on United Artists UP 1203, B-side of "Mr. Second Class")
24. 'Cos It's Over - THE SUMMER SET (October 1967 US 7" single on Roulette R-4766, B-side of "Let's Go To San Francisco")
25. Try Me On For Size - THOSE FADIN' COLOURS (Not originally issued, recorded May 1967. An Electric Prunes cover)
26. Silver Tree Top School For Boys - THE SLENDER PLENTY (September 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56189, A-side. An original David Bowie song)
27. Evil Woman - GUY DARRELL (September 1967 UK 7" single on Piccadilly 7N 35408, A-side. A Larry Weiss song also later covered by The Troggs, Canned Heat and Spooky Tooth)

Disc 2 (79:12 minutes):
1. Flames - ELMER GANTRY'S VELVET OPERA (November 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3083, A-side)
2. Double Sight - ONE IN A MILLION (December 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records 1370, B-side of "Fredereek Hernando")
3. Keep It Out Of Sight - PAUL and BARRY RYAN (February 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12567, A-side. Written by Cat Stevens)
4. Defecting Grey - THE PRETTY THINGS (not originally issued full-length version, recorded October 1967. The November 1967 UK 7" single of "Deflecting Grey" ran to 4:28 minutes, here it's extended to 5:12 minutes)
5. Desdemona - JOHN'S CHILDREN (May 1967 UK 7" single on Track 604003, A-side. Featured Marc Bolan of T. Rex)
6. Smokeytime Springtime - THE DOVES (Not originally issued, recorded October 1967)
7. Flowers In Your Hair - JOHN WILLIAMS (August 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8251, A-side)
8. All So Long Ago - SWEET FEELING (May 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8195, A-side)
9. Reflections Of Charles Brown - RUPERT'S PEOPLE (July 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8226, A-side)
10. Toy Soldier - THE RIOT SQUAD featuring David Bowie (Not originally issued, recorded April 1967)
11. The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone - THE RATS (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967. Featured Mick Ronson later with Bowie)
12. Something To Write About - CIRCUS (Not originally issued, recorded 1967)
13. Funny Face - DAVE DAVIES (from the September 1967 UK LP "Something Else By The Kinks" on Pye NSPL 18193)
14. Village Green - THE BROOD (Not originally issued, recorded circa September 1967. Produced by Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who)
15. Mr. Sun - TONY RIVERS & THE CASTAWAYS (Not originally issued, recorded 1967)
16. Your Servant, Stephen - THE PEEP SHOW (October 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56196, A-side)
17. And The Squire Blew His Horn - THE UGLYS (August 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2933, A-side. Written by Steve Gibbons and Jimmie O'Neill)
18. Vote For Me - THE MOVE (Not originally issued, recorded August 1967)
19. A Day In My Mind's Mind - THE HUMAN INSTINCT (December 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 167, A-side)
20. She Was Perfection - MURRAY HEAD (May 1967 UK 7" single on Immediate IM 053, A-side)
21. Little Girl Lost And Found - PETER & THE WOLVES (October 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1352, A-side. A cover of The Garden Club hit)
22. Flower Power - BIG JIM SULLIVAN (from the September 1967 US LP "Sitar Beat" on Mercury SR-61137)
23. Kaleidoscope - PROCOL HARUM (Not originally issued Stereo version, recorded July 1967)
24. Crazy Dreams - THE SEARCHERS (November 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17424, B-side of "Secondhand Dealer")
25. In The Deep End - THE ARTWOODS (April 1967 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5590, B-side of "What Shall I Do". Featured Keef Hartley, Art Wood (brother of Ronnie) and Jon Lord of Deep Purple)

Disc 3 (76:01 minutes):
1. Finding it Rough - HAT & TIE (January 1967 UK 7" single on President PT 122, B-side to "Bread To Spend" (re-issued April 1967 with sides reversed). Features Patrick Campbell-Lyons (later with England's Nirvana) and Chris Thomas of The Second Thoughts (The White Album and The Sex Pistols)
2. Fashion Conscious - THE FRESH WINDOWS (June 1967 UK 7" single on Fontana TF 839, B-side of "Summer Sun Shines". Written by Brian Barrett - not Syd Barrett as some have claimed)
3. The Addicted Man - THE GAME (January 1967 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5553, A-side. Withdrawn due to lyrical content)
4. Meditations - FELIUS ANDROMEDA (November 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12694, A-side)
5. Delighted To See Me - THE HONEYBUS (Not originally issued Demo Version, recorded April 1967)
6. So Many Times - ICE (October 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12680, B-side of "Anniversary (Of Love)". Later became Vertigo Prog rockers Affinity)
7. A Walk In The Sky - THE FLOWER POT MEN (November 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 160, A-side)
8. Friends And Mirrors - FIVE'S COMPANY (Not originally issued, recorded May 1967)
9. Family Tree - THE LATE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
10. I Think I Need The Cash - THE SECRETS (June 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2818, B-side of "I Intend To Please". Featured Clifford T. Ward)
11. Schizoid Revolution - SKIP BIFFERTY (Not originally issued, recorded early 1967. Written by Newcastle's Alan Hull later of Lindisfarne)
12. Granny Takes A Trip - THE PURPLE GANG (April 1967 UK 7" single on Transatlantic/Big T Records BIG 101, A-side)
13. Emily Small (The Huge World Thereof) - THE PICADILLY LINE (September 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2958, A-side. Band name deliberately misspelt with one 'c' instead of two to avoid a clash with London Transport)
14. Help Me Please - THE OUTER LIMITS (April 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 125, B-side of "Just One More Chance")
15. 'Cept Me - FOCAL POINT (Not originally issued, recorded June 1967. First signings to The Beatles Apple label)
16. Great Shadowy Strange - JADE HEXAGRAM (Not originally issued, recorded November 1967)
17. Busker Bill - THE TRUTH (Not originally issued, recorded mid-1967)
18. Life's Not Life - THE MOODY BLUES (January 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12543, A-side. Written by Denny Laine and Michael Pinder)
19. I Can't Get Away From You - DON CRAINE'S NEW DOWNLINERS (February 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17261, A-side. Cover version of a song by the American Garage Band The Remains from 1965)
20. Again - THE SYMBOLS (December 1967 UK 7" single on President PT 173, B-side of "(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up")
21. Odd Man Out - THE HI-FI'S (from the June 1967 German LP "Snakes And Hi-FI's" on Star Club 138 035 STY)
22. Laughing Man - THE MARMALADE (August 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2948, B-side of "I See The Rain". Written by William 'Junior' Campbell who would have several hits in the early Seventies on Deram as a solo artist)
23. Ginger - T.J. ASSEMBLY (from the November 1967 UK LP "Travellin' Round" on House Of Sound HOS 007. Private Pressing, 25 Copies Only)
24. Michelangelo - THE 23rd TURNOFF (Not originally issued Demo Version, recorded July 1967)
25. Supporters - Support Us - THE Q.P.R. SUPPORTERS (March 1967 UK 7" single on Eyemark EMS 1008, A-side)
26. Listen To The Sky - SANDS (September 1967 UK 7" single on Reaction 591017, B-side of the Bee Gees cover "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator")

Throughout the fantastic 42-page booklet - the text references and pictures epicentres of the Underground and Mod Scene of 1967 London - the UFO Club on Tottenham Court Road, the Middle Earth in Covent Garden's King Street and the Marquee in the capitol’s main thoroughfare - Oxford Street. Aside over 60 rare 7" single labels, picture sleeve repro's and acetate photos - you get wads of memorabilia, buttons, flyers, trade adverts, psych artwork and gig posters crammed onto every page. There's even a W.H. Smith advert in evocative Day-Glo lettering advertising their 'Psych Sounds '67' with cartoon butterflies emerging from a flower-power gramophone (as they do). As you can imagine - it's a feast and my fanboy hat goes off to DAVID WELLS and JOHN REED for the Liner Notes and Project Management - two names collectors both admire and trust. SIMON MURPHY did the Mastering over at Another Planet Music and given the disparate sources - the Audio is uniformly solid. Even when some of the unreleased stuff is sounding rough - it has air around it and feels in your face in all the right ways. A nice job done. To the music...

Disc 1 - you know you're in good company when the quote on Page 1 of the text reads "Straight to Heaven in '67!" It was EMI advertising The Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play" and although conspicuous by their absence (licensing rights I'd imagine) - the first instalment opens on a cutesy period piece - "Toyland" by The Alan Bown in its Mono Single Mix glory. The box set title comes at us in the lyrics as we're told we must go down and blow our minds where Teddy Bear has the scene all sewn up and there's honey and buttercups (whatever you say mate). Moving on from whimsy we get a more hard-edged guitar with the suitably named The Attack who assure us there's "Magic In The Air". Dreaming no doubt of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie - guitarist Mick Wayne of The Tickle would end up playing on that groundbreaking song - but in the meantime he'd some peace 'n' love to dispense to a girl on his below-the-ground "Subway (Smokey Pokey World)". Colours abound in the 'it's gonna blow' mean-guitar of "Pink Purple Yellow And Red". And if it's not rainbows and spectrums of colour then many songs are fixated on flowers. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's incredibly witty "Give Him A Flower" offers up the right balance of nettles vs. roses in its observations on the whole hippy movement (why isn't this slice of quotable genius on the radio every day to cheer commuters up). "Tanya" by the legendary Tintern Abbey speaks of a young lady leaving her land of cherry blossoms for revelations in Soho's Wardour Street that don’t quite expand her mind but do deplete her purse.

For sure the brutally crude audio that accompanies "Time To Start Loving You" by one of the big bands for collectors The Mickey Finn - isn't going to win any Living Stereo awards right soon - but the track still rocks (neither is Cliff Ward's "Path Through The Forest" for that matter). There's amazing musicality to "Prodigal Son" from Fleur-De-Lys - Bryn Haworth's wonderful way with melody already showing (see my review for his first two solo albums on Island Records in 1974 and 1975 - "Let The Days Go By" and "Sunny Side Of The Street" reissued by Gott Discs a few years back). The heavy Psych guitar of Guy Darrell's "Evil Woman" combined with its cool organ groove proved to have amazing legs because a plethora of artists latched onto it as a cover version they could almost call their own song - The Troggs, Spooky Tooth and Canned Heat amongst them. Nice way to end Disc 1 too...

Disc 2 - apparently taken aback by The Pink Floyd when they played support to those wild Psych boys in March 1967 - Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera infused their previous R&B driving beat with fuzzed-up guitars and came up with the fabulous raver "Flames" in November of that year. That hybrid R&B/Psych sound continues on the musically excellent "Double Sight" by One In A Million and you can almost justify its staggering £1000 price tag in the 2018 Edition of the Record Collector Rare Records Price Guide. The genuine quality continues on the classy "Keep It Out Of Sight" where Paul & Barry Ryan make the most of the excellent dancer gifted to them by a young Steven Georgiou (Cat Stevens). The Pretty Things bring up the whimsy front initially on "Defecting Grey" but then win our hearts by lashing into a stunning phased Sitar break that is quickly followed by driving fuzz-guitar. "Defecting Grey" is the kind of tune that seems to offer up more musical brilliance in its 5:12 minute duration than most bands can manage in an entire album.

The familiar but cherubic face over to the far right of the rare picture sleeve for "Desdemona" by John's Children is of course Marc Bolan - whose distinctive warble would soon be seeking out prophets, seers and sages with Tyrannosaurus Rex before making the world "Get It On" with T. Rex in 1971. Others winners on CD2 include the shockingly soulful "Reflections Of Charles Brown" by Rupert's People - an organ bluesy number with more than a hint of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" in its sound and pace. Not nearly so flowers and peace - Prime Minister Harold Wilson took major legal action and MI5 stalking revenge on Roy Wood and Co. for defaming his name on the huge hit "Flowers In The Rain". The clearly angry and anti-establishment "Vote For Me" song by The Move thereafter got quietly buried in the vaults – a rather good 'it seems my clothes are a drag' rocker that at last stands tall here on Disc 2. 

Disc 3 - Jukebox Jury got all morally righteous on the ass of what they thought was the celebratory "Addicted Man" by The Game – a call to arms in favour of more drug-taking and less crew cuts/bowler hats. Predictably the British tabloids got their collective tights in a tangle (have they ever been any other way) and Columbia fired their A&R man and withdrew the single. Underground pirate stations though took their revenge on uptight establishment by playing the buggery out of the 'message to the kids' tune - but the joke was ultimately on the South London band who had written it as an 'anti' drugs song only to have their pleadings misconstrued. It was withdrawn and no one got a penny (cracking tune btw). B-sides lost in time include "So Many Times" by Ice - a band that contained Keyboardist Lynton Naiff and Drummer Grant Serpell who along with Linda Hoyle and Mike Jopp would form the much-revered Vertigo Prog rockers Affinity in 1970. Another is the readies-strapped "I Think I Need The Cash" by Kidderminster's The Secrets which included one Cliff Ward who would finally emerge out of the musical shadows on Charisma Records as Clifford T. Ward in 1973 with the deeply beautiful melodies "Gaye" and Wherewithal" (from his album "Home Thoughts From Abroad").

Rarities on Disc 3 include a genuine coup in "Schizoid Revolution" by darlings of the Psych Scene Skip Bifferty. Cut as a demo in the spring of 1967 at Impulse Studios in Wallsend - the song was written by their pal and then psychiatric nurse - Newcastle's Alan Hull who would of course later form the much-loved Lindisfarne. Both Hull, Skip Bifferty Keyboardist Mickey Gallagher and Drummer Tommy Jackman had played as The Chosen Few over on Pye Records. And we will all be forever in debt to the King's Road Boutique at No. 499 called "Granny Takes A Trip" for the song of the same name - a zeitgeist moment of a song adopted as their anthem by the hippest of the hip at Joe Boyd's 'UFO Club' in Tottenham Court Road. Even now it's 'of the moment' words, sound and feel transport me back. And I've never seen the picture sleeve to The Symbols B-side "Again" on President Records (shown on Page 36) or the German Hi Fi's album from their stint at Hamburg's Star Club in all my years of rarity buying at Reckless in Berwick Street.

Plug In, Turn On and Freak Out people - you know it makes sense. Or doesn't make sense. And isn't that why "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds..." is such a joy. 

All joking aside - hats off to everyone involved in getting this forgotten music back out there in such triumphant style...
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