Wednesday, 25 March 2020

"Looking At The Pictures In The Sky: The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1968" by VARIOUS ARTISTS – featuring Fleur De Lys, Eyes Of Blue, Mike Stuart Span, The Orange Seaweed, Skip Bifferty, Rupert’s People, The Factory, Junior’s Eyes, The Smoke, Episode Six, Honeybus, Status Quo, Jethro Toe (Tull), The Writing On The Wall, The Spectrum and many more (November 2017 UK Grapefruit Records 3CD Clamshell Box Set – Oli Morgan and Nick Watson Masters) - A Review by Mark Barry...









"...Music Soothes The Savage Beast..."

Collectors (not surprisingly) have a bit of Felicity Kendal about Grapefruit Records. Every time we clap eyes on one of their squished-to-the-gunnels reissues covering all things 60ts, unwashed and eclectic (like this 3CD Box Set that deals with British stargazing in 1968) - we think of our lysergic/pale ale youth, reach for the enormo-pack Maalox antacid bottle and get a bit weepy and upset in the tum-tums. Hell, I might even propose to Richard Briers (if Felicity won't have me of course).

We love Grapefruit Box Sets and this 2017 brute is no different. 78 wildly varied tracks across 3CDs, a booklet crammed with more facts than a manual to building a large Hadron Collider and pictures of disturbed men with even more disturbing tastes in clobber and Day-Glo make-up. What's not to love...here we go...

UK released 10 November 2017 - "Looking At The Pictures In The Sky: The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1968" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Grapefruit CRSEGBOX040 (Barcode 5013929184008) is a 3CD Clamshell Box Set of 78-Tracks (two Previously Unreleased) that plays out as follows:

Disc One (78:04 minutes):
1. Path Through The Forest - THE FACTORY (October 1968 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1444, A-side)
2. Father's Name Is Dad - THE FIRE (March 1968 UK 7" single on Decca F 12753, A-side, Withdrawn)
3. Gong With The Luminous Nose - FLEUR DE LYS (May 1968 UK 7" single on Polydor 56251, A-side)
4. Mind's Eye - RAMASES and SELKET (September 1968 UK 7" single on CBS Records 3717, B-side of "Crazy One")
5. Spontaneous - THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN (from their June 1968 debut album "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown" on Track 613 005)
6. Lullaby (Alternative Version) - GRAPEFRUIT (recorded January 1968, unissued at the time)
7. I Will Not Be Moved - CIRCLE PLANTAGENET (recorded late 1968, PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED)
8. Sunday Best - TURQUOISE (recorded August 1968, not originally issued)
9. My Son Jon - THE ONXY (November 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17622, A-side)
10. The Fantastic Story Of The Steam Driven Banana - LEGAY (February 1968 UK 7" single on Fontana TF 904, B-side of "No-One")
11. Mr. Partridge Passed Away Today - FORTES MENTUM (March 1968 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5684, B-side of "Saga Of A Wrinkled Man")
12. Jabberwock - BOEING DUVEEN and THE BATIFUL SOUP (May 1968 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5696, A-side)
13. Haze Woman - ANAN (June 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17571, A-side)
14. Talkin' About The Good Times - PRETTY THINGS (February 1968 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8353, A-side)
15. Sunday Morning - GUY and DAVID - THE FIVE DAY WEEK STRAW PEOPLE (from the September 1968 UK LP "The Five Day Week Straw People" - Guy Mascolo and David Montague)
16. Animal Magic - THE GRADED GRAINS April 1968 recording, not originally issued)
17. She - TUESDAY'S CHILDREN (November 1968 UK 7" single on Mercury MF 1063, A-side)
18. Mr. Lion - THE MARMALADE (from the December 1968 UK LP "There's A Lot Of It About" on CBS Records 63414)
19. Upstairs Downstairs - GRAHAM GOULDMAN (February 1968 UK 7" single on RCA Victor RCA 1667, A-side)
20. Festival Of The Harvest Moon - JOKER (recorded mid-1968, not originally issued)
21. So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star - SUN DRAGON (from the November 1968 US LP "Green Tambourine" on MGM Records CS 8090 - a Byrds cover)
22. Never Care - EYES OF BLUE (from the December 1968 UK LP "Crossroads Of Time" on Mercury SMCL 20134)
23. Nightmare - THE GASS COMPANY (January 1968 UK 7" single on President PT 170, B-side to "Everybody Needs Love")
24. In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence - PROCOL HARUM (March 1968 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3007, B-side of "Quite Rightly So")
25. Did You Die Four Years Ago Tonight? - THE WEB (from the August 1968 UK LP "Fully Interlocking" on Deram SML 1025)
26. Frederick Jordan - THE GLASS MANAGERIE (September 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17615, B-side of "I Said Goodbye To Me")

Disc Two (79:05 minutes):
1. Children Of Tomorrow - MIKE STUART SPAN (February 1968 UK 7" single on Jewel JL 01, A-side)
2. Dawn Breaks Through - THE BARRIER (April 1968 UK 7" single on Eyemark EMS 1013, B-side of "Georgie Brown")
3. Mr. Pinnodmy's Dilemma - THE ATTACK (early 1968 recording, not originally issued)
4. Trying To Get A Glimpse Of You - THE FREEDOM (June 1968 UK 7"single on Mercury MF 1033, B-side of "Where Will You Be Tonight")
5. I Can Show You - RUPERT'S PEOPLE (March 1968 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8362, A-side)
6. Locked In A Room - THE POETS (December 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17680, B-side of "Alone Am I")
7. Bluebell Wood - WIMPLE WINCH (recorded May 1968, not originally issued)
8. Technicolor Dreams - THE STATUS QUO (from their LP "Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo" on Pye NPL 18220)
9. Music Soothes The Savage Beast - THE SPECTRUM (November 1968 UK 7" single on RCA Victor RCA 1775,B-side to "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da")
10. Head For The Sun - THE MOVEMENT (August 1968 UK 7" single on Big T Records BIG 112, A)
11. Midnight Love Cycle - THE LUBS (recorded mid 1968, not originally issued)
12. Lovers From The Sky -CONTACT (early 1968 recording, not originally issued)
13. Jamie's Song - THE DEVIANTS (from the October 1968 UK LP "Disposable" on Stable SLP 7001)
14. Sydney Gill - THE SMOKE (May 1968 German 7" single Metronome B 1697, A-side)
15. Birthday - PETER and THE WOLVES (April 1968 UK 7" single on MGM Records 1397, B-side of "Julie") 
16. Love Is A toy - JON LEDINGHAM (March 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17488, A-side)
17. Yesterday Was Such A Lovely Day - SADIE'S EXPRESSION (recorded April 1968, not originally issued)
18. Omnibus - THE MOVE (recorded March 1968, not originally issued STEREO version)
19. I Get So Excited - REAL McCOY (September 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17618, A-side)
20. Mr. Golden Trumpet Player - JUNIOR'S EYES (June 1968 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3009, A-side)
21. Yellow Rainbow - THE PICADILLY LINE (July 1968 UK 7" single on CBS Records 3595, A-side)
22. Time Seller - THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP (from the June 1968 UK LP "With Their New Face On" on United Artists SULP 1192)
23. Pantomime - TONY RIVERS and THE CASTAWAYS (April 1968 UK 7" single on Polydor 56245, B-side of " I Can Guarantee You Love")
24. Go And Say Goodbye - KATCH 22 (from the May 1968 UK LP "It's Soft Rock And All Sorts, It's Katch 22" on Saga EROS 8047)
25. Cornflake Zoo - ANDY ELLISON (May 1968 UK 7" single on SNB Records 55-3508, B-side of "You Can't Do That")
26. Penny For Your Thoughts - THE ALAN BOWN (from the November 1968 UK LP "Outward Bown" on Music factory CUBLM1)

Disc Three (78:56 minutes):
1. Hold On - JASON CREST (recorded November 1968, not originally issued)
2. Girl Of Independent Means - HONEYBUS (September 1968 UK 7" single on Deram DM 207, A-side)
3. Rainmaker - RHUBARB RHUBARB (December 1968 UK 7" single on President PT 229, A-side)
4. Hello Enid - THE MIRAGE (recorded March 1968, not originally issued)
5. Lucky Sunday - EPISODE SIX (October 1968 UK 7" single on Chapter One CH 103, A)
6. What's The Rush, Dillbury? - PARADOX (recorded early 1968, not originally issued)
7. Cave Of Clear Light - THE BYSTANDERS (February 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17476, B-side of "When Jezamin Goes")
8. Round And Round - SKIP BIFFERTY (recorded August 1968, not originally issued)
9. Come On Down - MOTIVATION (February 1968 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3248, A-side)
10. Country Life - BLONDE ON BLONDE (November 1968 UK 7" single n Pye 7N 17637, B-side of "All Day, All Night")
11. Virginia Water - CATS PYJAMAS (January 1968 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3235, B-side of "Baby I Love You")
12. Aeroplane - JETHRO TOE (TULL) (February 1968 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1384, B-side of "Sunshine Day")
13. Rambling Boy - TIMON (January 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17451, B-side of "Bitter Thoughts Of Little Jane")
14. Ice Man - ICE (March 1968 UK 7" single on Decca F 12749, A-side)
15. Now And Again Rebecca - THE U (DON'T) NO WHO (recorded early 1968, not originally issued)
16. Felicity Jones - THE WRITING ON THE WALL (recorded early 1968, not originally issued)
17. Sycamore Sid - FOCAL POINT (May 1968 UK 7" single on Deram DM 186, B-side of "Love You Forever")
18. Do You Dream - CIRCUS (March 1968 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5672, A-side)
19. Maxwell Ferguson - BRASS TACKS (November 1968 UK 7" single on Big T Records BIG 114, A-side)
20. Pawnbroker - BARBARA RUSKIN (recorded September 1968, PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED Demo Version)
21. Soft Winds - THE ORANGE BICYCLE (recorded 1968, not originally issued)
22. Without You - COCONUT MUSHROOM (recorded late 1968, not originally issued)
23. Haunted - PETER THOROGOOD (July 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17577, A-side)
24. Which Dreamed It - BOEING DUVEEN and THE BEAUTIFUL SOUP (May 1968 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5696, B-side of "Jabberwock" - A-side is Track 12 on Disc 1)
25. Trot - TURNSTYLE (November 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17653, B-side)
26. Pictures In The Sky - THE ORANGE SEAWEED (April 1968 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17515, B-side to "Stay Awhile")

I've raved about Grapefruit's booklets before but this is an out-and-out humdinger, 42 pages of wall-to-wall facts and photos so rare it boggles my already frazzled mind. DAVID WELLS has compiled and annotated the set with contributions from good name like JOHN REED while OLI MORGAN and NICK WATSON (at Fluid Mastering) have struggled with the tangled web of sources. Audio is the same with all these 3CD tomes - some tracks are shockingly good while the unissued recordings tend to show their hurried production values. Still, taking a look at those disc playing times (78:04, 79:05, 78:56 minutes) and the fact that they have somehow unearthed yet two more Previously Unreleased rarities and the words 'value for money' start rattling around my noggin. To the music of seaweed, beautiful soup, wimple winches glass menageries and orange bicycles... 

DISC ONE: Penned by none other than Clifford T. Ward before solo fame would make his Home Thoughts LP a fave in every bedsit in the land, The Factory smash open CD1 with "Path Through The Forest" - the kind of British Psych 45 that has had fans hiding the eBay receipt from the wife. Next up is The Fire, a trio featuring Dave Lambert later of The Strawbs, who saw their UK-45 withdrawn because Paul McCartney thought it needed punching up (they'd signed a publishing deal with Apple). So it was remixed with extra guitars and a different vocal and re-launched - but Macca's instincts were not matched with public interest and it tanked. It appears here in all its daft-as-a-House-of-Commons-loo-brush original form - a clever inclusion. Speaking of Edward Lear lunacy, future Island and A&M Records LP boy Bryn Haworth lends his fab way with a slide guitar to the rare and seriously desirable 45s of Fleur De Lys  - here their "Gong With A Luminous Nose" featuring a Gordon Haskell lead vocal also.

Other delights on Disc 1 include a central heating salesman and carnival queen masquerading as Ramases and his Goddess of Magic on their hokey CBS B-side, whilst Legay Rogers (trading as plain old Legay in the 60s but became part of Gypsy in the Seventies) also uses a flipside to inform us all of a steam-driven banana and its tale of mushy woe (yeah baby). And the cod-Cockney accent in Turquoise's unissued "Sunday Best" is surely the reason it was left in a can marked 'unfit jellied eels - do not eat no matter what'. Whilst collectors will lick their lips for rarities like Sam Hutt's wonderfully named Boeing Duveen and The Beautiful Soup - a 45 outing that featured Tony Visconti in an early Production role or the first incarnation of the Crimson-like Prog band Czar in the shape of the impossibly rare Tuesday's Children - a Mercury Records 45 that would hurt your bank balance a little too much.

DISC TWO opens with an uber-rare seven I'll admit I've never seen, "Children Of Tomorrow" by Mike Stuart Span - a mere 500 copies of this 60ts hymn to youthful disillusion. Rarities continue with a truly obscure B-side from Londoners The Barrier on the tiny Eyemark label - their "Dawn Breaks Through" roaring into your living room like the sunlight depicted in its title. Speaking of forgotten heroes, John Du Cann would leave The Attack eventually and be part of "The Five Day Week Straw People" LP and the band Andromeda. Ray Royer of Freedom provides the Traffic vs. Family B-side "Trying To Get A Glimpse Of You" (a superb rare picture sleeve of it is featured on Page 16 of the booklet), while Guitarist and Vocalist Rod Lynon and Drummer Steve Brendell of the wonderful Rupert's People would both show up in 1971 on John Lennon's "Imagine" album (Marriott's Small Faces would have been proud to call RP's 1968 slice of Itchycoo grooviness "I Can Show You" their own).

Just before they hunkered down to 12-bar nirvana in 1970 with "In My Chair" and "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon", our very own Matchstickable Status Quo stumped up "Technicolor Dreams" which died as a single and indeed may have been withdrawn or export only, explaining its huge price tag to collectors (clever song choice though here, reminding us of their earlier side). Lizzy obsessives will note that Brush Shiels of Dublin's Skid Row (Gary Moore featuring) penned the fuzzed-up guitar barrage that is "Head For The Sun" for the obscure Irish band The Movement, a group that also contained Bassist Pat Quigley who would play for Lynott's pre Thin Lizzy outfit Orphanage. I've never seen this seven let alone heard it - hell Wells and Grapefruit have even managed (on Page 21 of the booklet) to find a 'New Spotlight' Irish Magazine article of the day reviewing it! WOW! Other goodies include the chipper B-side "Birthday" from Peter and The Wolves, Eddie Hardin doubling on vocals with The Spencer Davis Group for their excellent "Time Seller", Rick Wakeman later of Yes providing keyboards to the Tony Visconti produced Junior's Eyes single "Mr. Golden Trumpet Player" and The Alan Bown going all kick-ass Rock 'n' Rolla with their LP-cut "Penny For Your Thoughts" - ending Disc 2 in style.

DISC THREE opens with a hard-hitting geetar cover by Jason Crest of Rupert People's "Hold On" while Honeybus continues the Jean Genie-type riffage on Ray Cane's off-imitated "Girl Of Independent Means". Deep Purple fans will recognise Ian Gillan and Roger Glover in Episode Six's "Lucky Sunday" (the Ian Gillan sung B-side "Mr. Universe" can be found on Disc 3 of RPM's May 2017 mini 3CD box set "Night Comes Down: 60s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat and Swinging London Nuggets"). Lead Vocalist Bob Catley of Paradox would later be in the hard and heavy Magnum while songwriter Clive John of the much-regarded Welsh band The Bystanders penned their Strawberry Alarm Clock-influenced "Cave Of Clear Light". Clever cover version choices come in the shapely bum-wiggler of "Come On Down" as done by Motivation, a sizeable hit for Every Mother's Son in the States. They weren't the first to hear UK potential in its US groove - Motivation's stab at the catchy tune following on from another British underground darling band The Gods (featuring Mick Taylor and Ken Hensley) who had a go on Polydor Records in June 1967. As if to hammer home Motivation's song and personnel pedigree, the band also featured Bassist Steve York who would later pluck strings for Deram's East Of Eden, Vertigo's Manfred Mann's Chapter and Island's Vinegar Joe).

Tull fans will probably already have the debut 45 with Mick Abraham's "Sunshine Day" on the February 1968 MGM Records A-side, but here's a chance to cop the Len Barnard and Ian Anderson penned flipside "Aeroplane" by Jethro Toe (long-standing Tull member Glenn Cornick says it wasn't a misprint, but a deliberate spite by the Producer who didn't think the band's agricultural character name was 'cool enough'). Speaking of weird flips, Clash fans will recognise Tymon Dogg associations with the band, but here Stephen Murray is (his real name) as Timon for his own "Rambling Boy" - a single on Pye that reputedly sold less than 130 copies. Keeping with cool future associations, Ice and their wicked "Ice Man" song would see members of the band blend into Linda Hoyle's much-vaulted Affinity on the newly minted Prog Rock label Vertigo. Singer-songwriter Philip Goodhand-Tait penned both Circus songs (produced by Manfred Man's Mike d'Abo) - a rare venture into Psychedelia for him who would share labels with Elton John on DJM. And on it goes to the delightfully titled Orange Seaweed and their "Pictures In The Sky" that give the box set its name…

Without doubt there will be even the most liberal-minded dude or dudette who will cop ears on any of these discs and go yuck – the 60ts may have been innovative – but it can stay 50 years behind. But I suspect they will be few and far between, because in my book, this is yet another reason why collectors and fans love reissue companies like Grapefruit with their passion, knowledge and need for us to explore deeper into an astonishing time in musical history.

Even if the hip 60ts men and women featured here can't shoot anymore and their guns are maybe in the ground (as Bob would later say in "Knocking On Heaven's Door") – for me it's never too dark, too dark too see. A fab reminder of a fab time -check this out and big time awards-city to all involved…

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INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order