Tomorrow “Tomorrow”

Not exactly a “lost” album, Tomorrow’s solitary collection has been readily available on CD since its major label reissue in 1999. And quite rightly so; this is a splendid retro package for psychedelia fans. The original album covers all the bases, from whimsy to cod-oriental to acid-rock, in tremendous style. The leadoff track “My White Bicycle”, originally issued as the preliminary single to the album, is a recognised psych classic and has been widely anthologised. Also included are five outttakes and alternative versions from the original sessions, plus some interesting hard-to-find tracks from each of the band’s two short-lived offshoots.

Tomorrow, like numerous other Brit psych outfits, came about when an established R’n’B group, the In Crowd, changed their name and musical direction to surf the psychedelic upheaval of late 1966. Signed to EMI but failing to click with Pink Floyd producer Norman Smith, they were handed to his colleague Mark P Wirtz, which proved both a blessing and a curse. Wirtz was a brilliant, willingly experimental producer, arranger and composer, but he also had an obsessive pet project, A Teenage Opera, which was doomed to become a legendary unfinished work comparable to Smile. Diversion to the Opera of the efforts of guitarist Steve Howe, who owed Wirtz favours from earlier session work, and singer Keith West, whom he lured with an offer to act as both vocalist and lyricist, plus the band’s own hectic live dates list and their discovery of LSD, meant that Tomorrow’s recording schedule for their own album became patchy and extended.

You wouldn’t know this from the music, which is somehow both wildly eclectic and reassuringly homogeneous. “My White Bicycle”, inspired by the community white bicycle scheme in 1960s Amsterdam, is a definitive acid-psych cut laced with backwards guitar, found sound effects and other studio trickery. “Real Life Permanent Dream” is a sitar-driven raga-rock opus with suitably lysergic lyrics, while “Revolution” veers crazily through a whirlwind of spoken word passages, riffs and time signatures. On the whimsical side, the delightful musical pen-portraits “Auntie Mary’s Dress Shop”, “Colonel Brown” and “Shy Boy” were originally intended for the Teenage Opera. (“Shy Boy” was later covered as a single by Kippington Lodge, who eventually morphed into Brinsley Schwarz.) Only the chemically-induced silliness of “Three Jolly Little Dwarves” and the superfluous, though solid, cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever” conspire to mar the original eleven-track release’s brilliance. Howe’s playing throughout is exemplary while West’s deadpan whacked-out vocal is perfect for these songs and this genre.

Tomorrow didn’t see release until early 1968, after an unsupportive EMI finally called time on the Opera. By then the psychedelic honeymoon had largely passed and the album failed to sell. The jaded band promptly split; drummer John “Twink” Alder and bassist John “Junior” Wood recorded a handful of totally wigged-out originals as The Aquarian Age with Wirtz providing keyboards, while West and Howe called in Ronnie Wood and Aynsley Dunbar, no less, on bass and drums and cut a few tracks in a more mainstream pop-rock direction under West’s name. When neither project grabbed the public’s imagination, Twink went on to rattle the traps for the Pink Fairies, whilst Howe eventually surfaced in an obscure little prog-rock outfit called Yes.

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:) Original Vinyl |  1968 | Parlophone | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]
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  • mark

    Admittedly, this album leaves a bad resonance in my ears…
    Your review segregates the material into the essential categories that I found when, for reasons that remain unknown to me, a vinyl copy found its way into my collection (no doubt from some cut-out bin or other). I have somewhat different names for these categories: the attempted and predictable psychedelic, the trite, and the ridiculous. I find that the musicianship, while at times verging on the experimental, seems to fall back on tricks and gimmicks. At times, the lyrics seem to say something intriguing or political… but even this seems, somehow, artificial. The musicians would, as you have pointed out, head onto better things. And this album… it’s neither animal, vegetable or mineral… Well, everyone, eat some left-over Easter candy, have a soda, and give it a listen…
    Ciao! (from Italy)

  • Len Liechti

    Quale sorpresa, Mark! I’d posit that artificiality, tricks and gimmicks and even being ridiculous were the hallmarks of psychedelic music, painting and writing. And when you were flying on acid, the last thing in your head was politics: that was left to the stern-faced anti-war brigade and black power movement. Still, pleased to see my review eliciting some considered comment. It’ll be interesting to see what other commenters make of it. Nel frattempo, molte grazie a voi per quella opinione vostra.

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