Archive for the ‘ Pop ’ Category

Hoi’ Polloi “Hoi’ Polloi”

Hoi'Polloi

Hoi’ Polloi’s only self-titled private press LP is a true lost gem.  Record Collector Magazine referred to this album as “a buried treasure” while Acid Archives writer Aaron Milenski said of the album, “Here’s proof that great finds are still out there awaiting us.”  Family Vineyard reissued this strange but engaging album on vinyl and digital download.

The group, which hailed from Richmond, Indiana, mixes various early 70s pop/rock styles (CSN&Y styled singer songwriter pop, country rock, power pop, folk rock, progressive rock, lite psychedelia) into an appealing whole.  Hoi’ Polloi was recorded at Earlham College during spring break using two stereo deck tapes.  Album opener “Who’s Gonna Help Me” sounds like a lost Emitt Rhodes track – this is radio friendly and highly accomplished pop for a self released disc.  The folk-rock tracks such as “Stories,” “Devil Song,” and “Old Bootstrap” are the group’s greatest strength as they are tuneful and finely crafted pieces of music – how was this excellent band overlooked? Other winners are the acid soaked but brief “Last Laugh,” the progressive harpsichord instrumental “Sid Stoneman Gets Scaled,” and the catchy singer songwriter styled “15 Miles To Mexico.”

While influences are easy to spot, Hoi’ Polloi had a unique quirkiness and strong sense of musicianship that keeps this music original and fresh.   They were a group that could sing, write and play better than most major label acts of their time.  There are no rough spots or dull moments to be found on this very entertaining set, which is highly recommended to fans of early 70’s pop rock.

mp3: Stories
mp3: I Used To Think

:) LP Reissue | 2013 | buy from family vineyard ]
;) MP3/FLAC | download at family vineyard ]

Clear Light “Clear Light”

Clear Light

Clear Light was a folk-rock/psych-rock group from LA that released one LP off Elektra in 1967, famously known for including two drummers, one of them being Dallas Taylor of CSNY and Manassas fame. Paul Rothchild produced the LP, which explains why the recording sessions were fraught with tension and negativity. The group was masterminded by guitarist/vocalist Bob Seal, bass player Doug Lubahn, and lead vocalist Cliff De Young. Prior to Clear Light the band had been known as the Brain Train. Seal felt a name change was appropriate to coincide with the release of a newly recorded debut single, “Black Roses.” Seal decided on Clear Light, a concept he had come across in his readings of Eastern philosophy, a name also shared by a potent brand of LSD.

“Black Roses,” written by Wolfgang Dios, was released in September of 1967. It was a great hard charging folk-rock single with an acid tinged guitar solo that deserved to sell much better than it did. Black Roses appeared on the group’s only full length platter, released in late 1967. Many psych fans are divided when it comes to the Clear Light LP but I think it’s a good one. Maybe not a true classic on par with Love’s Forever Changes or Moby Grape’s debut but still a very good LP without any weak tracks. The band tries nearly everything within a 2 to 3 minute pop song context, loading the songs with good quirky ideas and great guitar solos (check out “Think Again”). Some tracks like “They Who Have Nothing” and the baroque “Ballad of Freddie & Larry” bear a strong Doors and Love influence, but this makes sense considering these were all Elektra groups. Other songs like the outstanding fuzz guitar psychedelia of “Sand” and the trippy “Night Sounds Loud” are more original and hinted at a strong future for the group. The former track features some great organ and spiraling acid guitar interplay. The album’s most famous track, a cover of Tom Paxton‘s “Mr. Blue,” sounds dated today with its spoken word dialogue, although, even this song is oddly appealing in its own way and definitely still considered a highlight.

Rothchild’s iron fist policy coupled with the lack of commercial success led to Clear Light’s demise, shortly after the release of this solid album. Not everyone will like this record because of its eccentric nature but it really is a crime that Clear Light was unable to release a followup to this debut. A very worthy release from a talented, accomplished California group.

mp3: Think Again
mp3: Sand

:) Vinyl Reissue | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1967 | Vogue | search @ ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download ]

Tandyn Almer “Along Comes Tandyn”

We recently lost another unsung genius from the cracks and crevices of 60s pop/psych. Tandyn Almer, who sadly passed in early 2013, would never become a household name, but you’ve definitely heard his work. Penning major tunes like “Along Comes Mary” for the Association, “Sail on Sailor” and “Marcella” for the Beach Boys, and countless other psych-tinged gems, Almer left behind a distinguished trail of well-crafted compositions. Luckily, and ironically (as I’m sure he would have enjoyed to see its official release), we have gained a new trove of lost work in Along Comes Tandyn, a collection of Almer’s demos from 1965-1966.

Originally written and recorded for Davon music, a small number of acetates labeled “The New Songs of Tandyn Almer” was circulated in order to shop his tunes to other recording artists. While some acts like The Sure Cure and Curt Boettcher’s The Ballroom took the bait, most of these tracks have remained unheard. The sound is definitely demo quality (all the better), the band generally led by a clangy electric guitar and sprinkled with bits of piano and harpsichord. The vocals soar with typical 60s harmony, the lyrics quite often along the same vein. You can tell Almer was a real musician’s musician, his tunes never compromise, always taking an unexpected turn and often for something quite complicated. Take a listen to the surprisingly hip “Everytime I Take You Back To Me” and just try to follow the changes; or check the classical piano work on “There’s Gotta Be a Way.” Even “Along Comes Mary” (not included here) ducks and weaves at every chance, delivering it’s punch where you’d least expect it.

Some of Almer’s other happenings of note include an interview in Leonard Bernstein’s Inside Pop – The Rock Revolution (a “serious” investigation into pop’s emergence as an art form), as well as a short-lived best friendship with Brian Wilson, allegedly ending in an enstranging three-way.  While not exactly loaded with clear winners (Face Down in the Mud” is a downright weirdo blues offering that would sound at home on FZ’s Only in it for the Money and some tracks sound a bit like psychedelic filler), Along Comes Tandyn is still an excellent comp of lost pop-psych with a satisfying garage sound. Essential for fans of complex pop, the full package includes excellent liners (with lots of information provided by Tandyn himself) and will turn anyone into a hardcore Tandyn fan. Count me a Fandyn.

mp3: You Turn Me Around
mp3: Everytime I Take You Back To Me

:) LP | 2013 | Sundazed | buy at sundazed | amazon ]
:D CD | 2013 | Sundazed | buy at sundazed | amazon ]

Focal Point “First Bite of the Apple”

They say it’s not what you know but who you know, but sometimes even rubbing shoulders with the absolute royalty of rock can’t guarantee you success. Focal Point was a short-lived pop-psych outfit from Liverpool, based around songwriters Paul Tennant and Dave Rhodes who in the summer of 1967 became the first two writers signed to the fledgling Apple label. Tennant claims that he and Rhodes ambushed Paul McCartney walking his dog in Hyde Park and managed to blag an introduction to Apple Music Publishing head honcho Terry Doran. Allegedly the ensuing band’s name, Focal Point, was suggested by Brian Epstein. Apple sponsored the band through the rest of ‘67, housing and equipping them and recording demos of their songs at Apple’s makeshift studio at 94 Baker Street with producer Lionel Morton (ex-Four Pennies).

Focal Point signed to Decca’s progressive music subsidiary Deram early in 1968. Four songs were re-recorded to professional quality and the first 45 came out soon afterwards, “Love You Forever” b/w “Sycamore Sid”. Inexplicably the selected A-side was a sappy, unoriginal love song notable only for its excellent Mellotron accompaniment, and unsurprisingly it tanked chartwise. After unsuccessfully trying to reawaken interest at Apple, the band returned to Liverpool and concentrated on live work, supporting top-flight acts touring the North. By mid-69 they’d gone back to their day jobs.

The B-side of the single however, had been a fine, aggressive slab of hard psych and it appeared on psych compilations from the 1980s onwards, whilst the other Deram tracks appeared on 94 Baker Street, a compilation of sounds by lesser-known acts signed to Apple. In the wake of the new interest in 60s psychedelia erstwhile band members Tennant, Dave Slater and Tim Wells laboriously tracked down the surviving Apple demos and some later stuff they’d recorded independently in Manchester after returning North. The results were assembled along with the Deram tracks as First Bite Of The Apple and finally released to the world in 2005, giving an impression of how a Focal Point album recorded at the tail end of psych in ’68 might have sounded.

The Deram tracks and the first Manchester recordings mostly present dreamy soundscapes and lyrics not far from the Toytown end of psych, realised through layered vocal harmonies and sumptuous keyboard washes and all quite presentable. “Miss Sinclair”, “Sycamore Sid” and “McKinley Morgan The Deep Sea Diver” are typical Swinging Sixties third-party pen-portraits, the first benefitting from a hard-edged guitar and a flat Syd Barrett-style vocal whlist the last is an enjoyable singalong that could have come from The Teenage Opera via “Yellow Submarine”. “Never Never” is a blissed-out flower-power song with great organ work and a powerful walking bass line. “Far Away From Forever” is another languid, introspective soft-psych outing with some pleasant surprises in the chord sequence. Sadly the band took a wrong turning with their later attempts to find commercial success. “Falling Out Of Friends” is a dismal schlock ballad with an ersatz Hollies feel, whilst “Goodbye Forever” was an attempt to write for the Eurovision Song Contest and exhibits all that genre’s boom-bang-a-bang awfulness. The Apple demos illustrate how greatly the songs changed in their final realisation; “Miss Sinclair” is played purely on acoustic guitars whilst “Never Never” plonks along on what sounds like a honkytonk piano.

Focal Point has always been keen to lay to rest the assumption that “Sycamore Sid” who lived in a tree house was actually Syd Barrett. In fact it refers to John Mayall, who in his early days as a musician did just that. For a lot more detail on Focal Point and a first-hand history from Paul Tennant visit their page in the excellent Marmalade Skies UK Psych site.

mp3: Sycamore Sid
mp3: McKinley Morgan the Deep Sea Dive

:D CD Compilation | 2005 | Kissing Spell | buy here ]

The Butts Band “Butts Band”

The Butts Band is one of those curios from the early-to-mid seventies when prominent rock musicians used to continually combine into various short-lived combos, always looking for that elusive commercial success. The Butts Band should have had a better chance than most, given the pedigree of its members; it grew out of an attempt in 1973 by the three remaining Doors to recruit a new vocalist after Jim Morrison’s demise. For some reason they elected to audition in London rather than LA, and all the prospective candidates were Brits. Partway through the search Ray Manzarek lost interest and went home, but Robby Krieger and John Densmore kept the faith, finally settling on Jess Roden as frontman. Roden had experienced critical acclaim but commercial failure with his previous project, the country-rock outfit Bronco, and as a student and practitioner of all the American roots music genres, not to mention an unassuming but distinctive vocalist and songwriter, he was an obvious candidate for the post. The band was made up by former Jeff Beck bassist Philip Chen and little-known keyboard player Roy Davies, with assistance in the studio from ubiquitous sessioneer Mick Weaver on organ.

Recording commenced at London’s Olympic Studios with former Doors engineer Bruce Botnick in the producer’s chair, but after three weeks the whole circus decamped to Kingston, Jamaica to complete the recordings. About half the tracks were cut in each location, and the final mixes were prepared back in LA. (The closing cover of “Kansas City” which purports to be a live recording was actually taped in a single take at Olympic and the crowd noise dubbed on later.) When Jac Holtzman declined to put the finished product out on Elektra, it was picked up by Bob Krasnow’s independent Blue Thumb imprint and subsequently distributed by Island.

The album comes across as equal parts The Band and Curtis Mayfield, with no real Doors flavour at all; perhaps no surprise as the two principal writers are Krieger and Roden in equal share. The original topside is a delight from start to finish; the leadoff “I Won’t Be Alone Any More” could be an outtake from The Basement Tapes, with its down-home twelve-string, wheezy organ, rustic bass and restrained lead guitar. “Baja Bus” is a mid-tempo funky-butt outing with a fine Fender Rhodes interlude and an extended Latin percussion jamming outro dominated by an apparently blissed-out conga player. “Sweet Danger” is mellow minor-key white soul, tailor-made for Roden’s honey-sweet double-tracked voice and featuring beautifully-restrained piano and guitar, but spoilt by an irritatingly-dated pitchwheel synth solo. “Pop-A-Top” rides on a reggaefied rhythm and a gorgeous electric piano riff; Krieger’s chillingly beautiful slide feature fades out far too soon. The flipside songs are less distinguished but benefit throughout from Chen’s and Densmore’s no-nonsense, sparse-but-inventive rhythm work. The closer, the aforementioned Kansas City, rocks along with a vengeance but Krieger’s ad-libbed slide work here is undeniably sloppy and bears no comparison to Duane Allman’s polished bronze licks.

With reviews of the album being generally favourable, the Butts Band scored a couple of live gigs in the UK as support to the Kinks and Sparks and a brief dilatory tour in the States, plus a few TV appearances including The Old Grey Whistle Test, but it was clear right from the start that the British contingent would not be willing to move permanently to the West Coast and the lineup rapidly fell apart. Krieger and Densmore recruited a bunch of American players, retaining the Butts Band name, and put together a further album, but it bore little relationship to its predecessor and is not highly regarded. Butts Band is currently out of print unless you’re prepared to settle for a bootleg CD, but pre-loved vinyl copies periodically surface on eBay. John Densmore’s website has a fine retrospective of the Butts Band(s).

mp3: I Won’t Be Alone Anymore
mp3: Pop a Top

:) Original | 1974 | Blue Thumb | search ebay ]

The Artwoods “Art Gallery”

In contrast to the commercially-successful but artistically-bankrupt pop sensations of the UK’s 1960s beat era there was a small hardcore of bands in the UK who couldn’t get arrested record-sales-wise but whom other musicians would cross continents to catch playing live. Frequenting the trendy London club scene and playing funky tunes that oozed git-up-and-dance, they usually centred round a deft practitioner of the Hammond organ, and comprised the said keyboard god plus fellow musicians who refused to compromise their musical integrity and their blues and jazz influences. Alongside the likes of Graham Bond’s Organization, Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames and the Peddlers could be found the Artwoods, who despite their undeniable talent would have a brief career and only some of whom would find wider success in later combinations.

Vocalist and leader Arthur “Art” Wood was the elder brother of Ronnie, then guitarist with the Birds (sic) and later star sideman to Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and the Glimmer Twins. Having served his on-stage apprenticeship with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, Art set about putting together his own band in 1963, finally settling with Derek Griffiths (gtr), Malcolm Pool (bs), Jon Lord (org) and Keef Hartley (drs). (A couple of familiar names there, then, but not till a few years later.) Eschewing the straight R’n’B of the Yardbirds, the Stones and the Animals, the Artwoods stuck out for the jazz-inflected soul mix that would soon be in vogue on the Soho club circuit, covering material by Jimmy Smith, Lieber & Stoller, Eddie Floyd, Allen Toussaint, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and Solomon Burke. For four years they rocked the live club circuit until the trend towards psychedelia began to edge them out; unlike many of their contemporaries they declined to make that shift, electing instead to split in ’67.

The Artwoods did make records; over their four years they issued six singles plus – despite its cheesy title and homespun cover design – this splendid studio album. Predictably, none of these sold worth a damn: perhaps because the band’s oeuvre consisted almost completely of covers, albeit superb ones; perhaps because the recorded product lacked the visceral excitement of their live performances. The singles are indeed a little humdrum, given their attempts to polish their raw sound for commercial purposes, but the album is a gem of ensemble musicianship with flashes of individual brilliance. Recorded in a tiny basement studio in London’s Denmark Street under the tutelage of master Decca producer Mike Vernon, it clearly features the live set and gets as close as one could ask to the live vibe, only limited by the need to trim the tracks down to radio-friendly length. There’s a lot of variety available; the standout tracks include Burke’s “Down In The Valley” done in impeccable Stax style, Floyd’s “Things Get Better” as a superb garage soul opus with Merseybeat harmonies and raw-nerve fuzz guitar, and a scintillating cover of the Jimmy Smith instrumental “Walk On The Wild Side” in the middle of which the band lapse into a pure swing jazz groove and Lord produces an orgasmic solo that presages what he’d do with Deep Purple. Apart from a pedestrian reading of “If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody” there’s not a dull moment amongst the twelve original tracks. Art’s rough-as-a-badger’s-arse vocal is a guilty pleasure and Messrs Lord and Hartley shine throughout.

The subsequent careers of Lord and Hartley are well documented, but Art himself enjoyed far less success. He briefly formed a new outfit in ’69 with the musicians who would become the Faces; perhaps predictably for an outfit called Quiet Melon, it sank without trace. Art moved into a new career in graphic design with his other brother Ted and Malcolm Pool, singing only occasionally thereafter as a hobby musician till his premature death from cancer in 2006. His recorded legacy is available on the current 2009 CD from Repertoire which also includes no fewer than fourteen bonus tracks taken from the singles and the mega-rare Europe-only instrumental EP Jazz In Jeans.

mp3: Walk on the Wild Side
mp3: Things Get Better

:) Original | 1966 | Decca | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2009 | Repertoire | buy here ]

Faine Jade “It Ain’t True”

Many of the artists that made the classic psych/garage comps Nuggets and Pebbles tend to have a disappointing discography, other than that one killer track. Whether they recorded an album full of filler or no album at all, diving in based on one single is a risk. But damn, the search pays off when you dig up just one well-buried record that should have been a classic.

Long Island’s Chuck Laskowski began his recording career, along with friend and collaborator Nick Manzi, as The Rustics, an overlooked yet top-notch mid-60s garage combo (whose material comprises much of this record). Donning the name Faine Jade in 1967 with the single “It Ain’t True,” Jade went on to record the psych opus Introspection: A Faine Jade Recital. It’s commonly known as a collector’s piece and the best of Jade’s material, but my money is on this 90s comp of Faine’s earlier stuff. I guess I just like it stripped down and dirty, tape warble and hum. While the sound can be cavernous, dark, moody (clearly aided by members of the Bohemian Vendetta, who were part of The Rustics and backed Faine on Introspection) the writing is an ingeniously catchy mix of pop and garage rock.

“Look at Me” boasts the cleanest sound on the record, propelled by a commanding electric rhythm and a lovely slop of tambourine. Wild surf guitar leads take us through “Cant Get You Out of My Heart,” a rumbling, poppy driver I can’t get out my head. Then there’s a sad and out take very much like a ballad from Bermuda’s wild Savages,  “I’m a Wanderer Too,” featuring shimmery electric piano and some downright evil-sounding bass guitar. Though a compilation, the record flows like a well-thought out album, moving from dingy marches (“Don’t Underestimate Me”) to downers (“Gonna Love You Anyway,” “December’s Children”) highlighted by great,  memorable rockers (“Can’t Let You Go,” “Look Before You Leap,” “I Lived Tomorrow Yesterday”), light psychedelia (“Cold Winter Sun”,) and genuine garage thrash (“It Ain’t True”).

This may be a collection of discarded tracks from a little-known band’s early beginnings, but It Ain’t True plays like a best-of record, one of the better garage collections from any artist. Make an effort to get your hands on this underrated classic.

Faine Jade, along with Nick Manzi, would later record a promising country rock departure, 1971’s Dust Bowl Clementine.

mp3: Look At Me
mp3: Can’t Let You Go

:) Compilation | 1992 | Distortions | buy from Faine Jade ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The City “Now That Everything’s Been Said”

Seven years after 1960s girl group poster-girls The Shirelles scored a number one smash hit with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and three years before recording one of the best selling pop albums of all time, singer-songwriter Carole King was a member of a fledgling west-coast folk-rock outfit called The City. Built around King’s heavily refined Brill building song-craft and the tight, funky guitar playing of one Danny Kootchmar, The City had an extraordinarily brief moment in the spotlight – if the spotlight is even what you could call their momentary spark into existence – before King’s stubborn reluctance to perform sealed the band’s fate. Nonetheless, they managed to cut a very solid record with 1968’s Now That Everything’s Been Said, and it deserves to be slid back into the popular radar, not only as a curious artifact from one of pop’s most legendary songstresses, but as an extremely well-polished disc of mellow rock and roll from a period when even the popular mainstream was starting to dip its sticky fingers in the electric currents of the musical counterculture.

The opening track is one of the album’s finest moments, with the hiccup of a tape deck cutting into Kootchmar’s fluid electric guitar and King’s floating, elemental piano chording. “Snow Queen” has all the Laurel Canyon trademarks, from soaring harmonies and textured instrumental interplay that never intrudes on the vocals but rather elevates them above the laid-back rhythm section into a sort of ethereal timelessness. Perhaps this record’s second biggest claim to fame, besides the obvious presence of King herself, is her own performance of “Wasn’t Born To Follow,” a quiet assertion of individuality and counterculture ideals taken to the charts by The Byrds around the same time that Now That Everything’s Been Said first saw the light. The City’s arrangement is not far removed from McGuinn and company’s, but King’s singing does throw a new spin on the number that lets it rival its more famous counterpart rather than being subsumed by it. For whatever reason I never realized the blatant similarities between this song and Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” until I heard this less well-known take – open-handed plagiarism or the old folk-revival card, who’s to say; either way both songs retain their beauty and this particular selection remains a City highlight.

Taken as a whole this is a relatively safe and consistent record, without many real surprises save for Kootchmar’s star turn on the soulful “A Man Without A Dream.” It’s unfortunate that he was not given more chances to shine here (though he does do a sort of informal duet with King on the rambling “My Sweet Home”) as his strong and earthy voice helps ground his partner’s occasional flights into Tin Pan Alley melodramatics. His one song at least manages to add some variety to the proceedings and make this more than just another Carole King record. One wonders how much collaboration there was between musicians here, for despite King’s obvious claim on songwriting credits there are a couple of moments that sound as though they’d been born in an atmosphere of collective improvisation. “That Old Sweet Roll” even sees the band dipping its hands into a sort of rollicking American blues bag, though the song ends up channeling Cab Calloway in a prom dress more than it does Howlin’ Wolf or the Reverend Gary Davis.

So where does this leave us? I’d argue that The City helps illuminate a time in which even the more conservative members of the American popular music establishment were willing to dip their fingers in the new wave of artistic expression that would in a few years simply become old guard. The results are an unlikely mixture of mainstream talent and late-sixties rebelliousness – a powerful combination, however questionable the concept’s street cred may sound. Considering the personnel here it’s rather surprising that Now That Everything’s Been Said is out-of-print, but with enough scrounging one of the three past reissues should turn up. Maybe you’ll get lucky: my own copy came from the cut-out bin at my local record store mixed in with a bunch of latter-day Carole King records.

mp3: Man Without A Dream
mp3: That Old Sweet Roll

:) Original | 1968 | Ode Records/A&M | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | Sony | buy here ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Fire “The Magic Shoemaker”

For me the most depressing thing about today’s rock music is that so much of it exhibits such a lack of creativity or originality. If something sells, clone it, quickly. What a contrast to the late sixties, when for a brief heady spell the artists rather than the bean-counters had the whip hand and the spirit of experimentation soared over everything. Of course this produced as many heroic failures as acknowledged triumphs; Fire’s The Magic Shoemaker bombed on release, and even such retrospective reviews as it has received have frequently been ambivalent. Ah, what have we got here, then? Former psychedelic outfit moves towards progressive rock with a song-cycle that’s too lightweight plot-wise to be a concept album, too naïve and inconsequential to be a rock opera . . . hmmmm. But what is true is that it certainly represents a brave attempt to be different.

London trio Dave Lambert (vcl, gtr, keys), Dick Dufall (bs, vcl) and Bob Voice (drs, vcl) had impressed the Beatles’ Apple label sufficiently to score a deal that resulted in the classic psych A-side “Father’s Name Is Dad”. The marriage was not a happy one, though, and Fire soon found themselves at odds with the music industry at large. Retiring to the suburbs, Lambert spent a year writing and demo-ing the songs for The Magic Shoemaker, based around a whimsical children’s bedtime story in which a shoemaker cobbles together a pair of shoes that unexpectedly allow the wearer to fly. These are loaned to a king whose country is threatened with war by a neighbouring state; when the king confronts his opposite number from the sky the latter’s army are spooked and a peace treaty is forthcoming. Admittedly, it’s a slender peg to hang your creative coat on, but in its own quirky homespun fashion it works.

The premise of the album is that the narrator (Lambert, in a homely Home Counties accent) tells the story to a group of kids on a coach trip (real kids’ voices, overdubbed travel noises). Short pieces of the narrative occur between and within the songs whose lyrics broadly parallel episodes in the tale, some closely, others in more abstract fashion. Musically the songs follow a basic guitar-driven pop-rock template, varying widely in style and tempo – Tommy would undoubtedly have been an influence - with frequent psychedelic studio enhancement, particularly on the opening “Tell You A Story”, “Only A Dream” and the long instrumental coda of “Reason For Everything”. Pick of the bunch for me is “I Can See The Sky” with its raw freakbeat vibe, but they’re all quite engaging. Lambert’s lead vocal, somewhere between Daltrey and Bowie, is sometimes somewhat over-affected, but the musicianship is excellent throughout with the basic guitar trio being complemented by Lambert’s modest keyboards and plenty of top-drawer lead guitar work from himself and Velvet Opera’s Paul Brett. Future Strawbs partner Dave Cousins makes a cameo appearance on banjo on the superfluous jugband ditty “Happy Man Am I”. The production by Pye’s Ray Hammond is unsophisticated but its contemporary favouring of stereo separation and reverb suits the project and the interleaving of songs and narration is seamless.

Predictably, The Magic Shoemaker tanked well and truly on its release on Pye in 1970, being too late for psych and too lightweight for prog, and subsequently became a much-sought-after rarity until its inevitable reissue on CD. The current Sanctuary edition tailgates the original album with the A’s and B’s of both of Fire’s earlier psych singles including the indispensable “Father’s Name Is Dad” and “Treacle Toffee World”. As an interesting epilogue, after a long and successful association with Cousins in the Strawbs Lambert reformed Fire for a one-off concert in 2007, performing Shoemaker in extended form including the earlier psych sides and other unreleased songs. The gig was recorded for sound and video and subsequently released on CD by Angel Air as The Magic Shoemaker Live, receiving wide acclaim . . . which is more than the original release achieved.

mp3: Reason for Everything
mp3: I Can See the Sky

:D Reissue | 2009 | Esoteric | buy here ]
:) Original | 1970 | Pye |  search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

PODCAST 26 Garage,Pop

 

I Want to Hold Your Hand (1968-) – The Moving Sidewalks
Naughty Girl (1965/1966) – The Missing Links
Sad and Lonely and Blue (1966) – The Easybeats
I’m On Fire (1968-) – The Easybeats
Calm Me Down (1966) – The Human Expression

Her Face (1966/1967) – Steve Ellis and the Starfires
You Lied To Me Before (1966) – The Treez
You’re Too Young (1965) – The Vagrants
I’ll Come To You (1967) – The Elite
Gone To The Moon (1966) – The Savages
Out of the Question (1967 – from the Future LP) – The Seeds

Download: Podcast26.mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml [?]