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UK Psychedelia’s Finest Hour

The rediscovery of British psychedelic music over the last twenty years or so has unearthed a stream of rare recordings from the magic period, 1966-1968. It has to be said that quite a lot of these deserve to remain rare, and that many others have dubious psychedelic credentials, but some excellent previously passed-over stuff has also surfaced on a number of anthologies. The Rising Storm brings you (well, in my humble opinion) UK Psychedelia’s Finest Hour: sixty minutes of whimsy, Baroque, cod-Oriental and just plain electronic madness, all wrapped around lysergically-assisted lyrics and acid-drenched instrumentals. A sitar here, a Mellotron there, everywhere a Fuzz Face. A couple of copper-bottomed hits, a clutch of genuine obscurities and a whole bunch of unexpected curveballs from well-known names just passing through. Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

1. George Martin “Theme One”
2. The Who “Armenia City In The Sky”
3. Nirvana (UK) “Rainbow Chaser”
4. Traffic “Hole In My Shoe”
5. The Beatles “Baby You’re A Rich Man”
6. Tintern Abbey “Vacuum Cleaner”
7. The Ivy League “My World Fell Down”
8. Dantalian’s Chariot “Madman Running Through The Fields”
9. David McWilliams “The Days of Pearly Spencer”
10. Cream “Dance the Night Away”
11. Keith West “Excerpt from a Teenage Opera”
12. The Small Faces “The Universal”
13. Donovan “Hurdy Gurdy Man”
14. The Yardbirds “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”
15. The Aquarian Age “10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box”
16. The Rolling Stones “In Another Land”
17. Pink Floyd “Apples and Oranges”
18. The Pretty Things “Defecting Grey”

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  • joel

    these are always a treat. cheers!

  • Len Liechti

    As usual, some further notes and opinions from the compiler. All these tracks were single A-sides unless described otherwise.

    “Theme One”: commissioned from the mighty Martin for the opening of Radio One, the UK’s first national pop music station. Used for many years to close down transmission at midnight. A sort of “All You Need Is Love” without lyrics.

    “Armenia City In The Sky”: the opener from The Who Sell Out, and unusually penned by “Speedy” Keen, mainman of Thunderclap Newman and a close friend of Townshend’s.

    “Rainbow Chaser”: the first time I ever heard phasing on a record, and a staple at the annual Whitchurch 24-Hour Pedal Car Race (honest). Still my fave UK psych track of all time.

    “Hole In My Shoe”: one good reason not to snobbily dismiss a great record just because it was a hit and you can walk down the road singing it.

    “Baby You’re A Rich Man”: McCartney’s B-side to “All You Need Is Love”. Did they ever get more spacey than this?

    “Vacuum Cleaner”: the B-side of the Abbey’s sole single; the A-side was “Bee Side” (go figure).

    “My World Fell Down”: written by John Carter of the League. Covered by Sagittarius, though nowhere near as well in my opinion.

    “Madman Running Through The Fields”: simply the definitive UK psych single. No apologies for repeating this here; see also my post on Chariot Rising.

    “The Days Of Pearly Spencer”: the bleak lyric proves that it wasn’t all just peace, love and flowers in those balmy years.

    “Dance The Night Away”: from Disraeli Gears. Clapton on a rare 12-string, and an unusually psychedelic outing for the generally prosaic blues-rock trio.

    “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera”: the absolute pinnacle of toytown psych. See my posts on Tomorrow and the A Teenage Opera album for more background.

    “The Universal”: recorded in Steve Marriott’s back garden and subsequently overdubbed. Just love the out-of-tune 12-string, the quirky clarinet and the dog barking along.

    “Hurdy Gurdy Man”: of course, as we all know, it wasn’t Page on the solo but a session guy called Alan Parker. He also did the solo on the reformed Walker Brothers’ “No Regrets”.

    “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”: one of only three recordings known to feature both Beck and Page on guitars. Bass by John Paul Jones – signs of things to come.

    “10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box”: cut by the rump of Tomorrow after West and Howe had departed. More input from Mark Wirtz.

    “In Another Land”: one of very few – perhaps the only one? – of Bill Wyman’s songs to sneak onto a Stones album. Presumably the Glimmer Twins were too blissed out to notice.

    “Apples And Oranges”: the glorious failure third single, and Syd’s last holler as a Floyd member.

    “Defecting Grey”: oh my, what were they on? Production by Norman “Hurricane” Smith, George Martin’s former right hand man. Clearly he’d learned a few tricks from the master.

    My thanks to Brendan for generously accommodating me on this rather more extensive than usual flight of fancy.

  • Len Liechti

    Further research reveals that “In Another Land” has an interesting history. Bill Wyman turned up for a session for the upcoming Their Satanic Majesties Request to find that it had been cancelled. Glyn Johns invited him to use the studio time nonetheless, and Wyman tried out the song with Charlie Watts, plus Nicky Hopkins on piano and Mellotron. Steve Marriott sat in on 12-string guitar and he and Ronnie Lane provided backing vox. When Wyman tentatively presented the track to the Glimmer Twins they liked it, decided to use it on the forthcoming album and overdubbed further backing vox plus more guitar. The refrains therefore feature prominent Jagger vocals in addition to tremendous rhythm piano from Hopkins. In addition to appearing on the album, the track appeared as a single A-side in the US only, credited to Wyman, b/w with “The Lantern” credited to the Stones and released just before Majesties. At the end of the LP track only, you can hear Wyman’s snores. These had been recorded by the Twins when they found Wyman sleeping in the studio at a later session and tacked on to the track as a jolly jape.

    Wyman did actually manage to get one other song recorded by the Stones; “Downtown Suzie” ended up as an outtake of “Let It Bleed” and finally appeared on the exploitation compilation of previously unreleased demos and outtakes from the London period, Metamorphosis, in 1975. Slide guitar by Ry Cooder.

  • A nice intro compilation, and any comp of English psych is not complete without the mighty Tintern Abbey. I’d have chosen different songs from The Who (Rael or Melancholia, for example), but that’s picking nits.

    What started my obsession with English psych is the three volumes of the “British Psychedelic Trip” LPs and CDs that See-For-Miles released back in the late 1980s. Highly recommended and well worth seeking out: http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/greatbritpsychtrip.htm (and all are in mono).

    You’ll hear lots of lovely music from Tintern Abbey, the 23rd Turnoff, and so on.

  • That’s very interesting info about “In Another Land,” Len. I’m gonna go home, put my TSMR SACD in the system and listen to this cut again, very carefully. Knowing that some of the Small Faces are on the cut is very interesting.

  • Len Liechti

    Thanx, MM. I too have the three CD volumes of “The Great British Psychedelic Trip”, which in their original vinyl form more or less kicked off the Britsike reissue movement, and they are pretty good anthologies of the genre. Now hard to find (stupid prices for pre-loved copies on Amazon, etc). A fair substitute is the 5-CD compilation of Chocolate Soup For Diabetics, which features a number of the same tracks (Tintern Abbey, etc) and is more readily available at the time of writing.

  • Jason

    I agree, I didn’t know that info about Bill Wyman, interesting notes – good job Len!!!!! Tintern Abbey’s Beeside and Dantalian’s Chariot’s Madman Running Through The Fields are probably my favorite British psych tracks…you could throw in anything that’s early Floyd….The Pretty Things….Kaleidoscope….One In A Million’s sole single….and a bunch of other quality discs…really a fertile scene. I picked up a few discs that could be of interest if your into British psych….two bands really…Angel Pavement and The West Coast Consortium. Both were released by Tenth Planet/Wooden Hill.

    Bill Wyman Note: I’ve always enjoyed the End’s Introspection LP – it’s excellent psych pop that Wyman produced. Introspection should have hit record shops in late 1967 or early 68 but for some reason the disc was shelved though eventually released in 1969 – I guess a case of better late than never! Tenth Planet Records also put out a really good vinyl record from the Introspection sessions – plenty of excellent outtakes and unheard of tracks…never released on cd but well worth the search, it’s titled Retrospection – released in 1997. Really an underrated band.

  • Len Liechti

    Admire your taste, J. I’d not heard of One In A Million – that’s the beauty of the Storm, no matter how much you think you know you can always learn something new. Turns out they were a short-lived psych outfit from Glasgow who released two singles, of which the second was “Double Sight” c/w/ “Fredereek Hernando”, often cited as a psych classic. Both sides are on CD1 of Chocolate Soup For Diabetics. Their lead guitarist was the ill-fated Jimmy McCulloch (Thunderclap Newman, Stone The Crows, Paul McCartney’s Wings), who was then just 14.

  • Goose

    I’m a little late to the party here, but great podcast! I’ve been getting into psychedelic music (American for the most part – some British) for the past few years – I’m hoping to learn more about Brit Psych…. The Who Sell Out (one of my Who favorites) is a great album. Tripped me out the first time I heard it! Love the Beatles of course, Disraeli = Great Album! Thanks for the info about TSMR and Wyman – never knew any of that… as well as Page not playing on Hurdy Gurdy…. I love learning new things about music of all kinds.

    Great place here LEN! I’ll drop in time to time…

  • Jeffro Brunk

    I’m a big fan of the Dukes of Stratosphere and I read someplace that they had a lot of old tracks in mind when they were recording their tunes. It occurred to me they might have been influenced by the spoken interlude in the middle of Traffic’s “Hole in My Shoe” when the recorded the intro to Brainiac’s Daughter.

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