MIND DE-CODER 78
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“If God dropped acid – would he see people?”
LIONEL BART IN THE MOVIES/ISN’T THIS WHERE WE CAME IN? (excerpt)
I’ve been fascinated recently by Lionel Bart’s intriguingly bonkers, mind-expanding musical ...ISN’T THIS WHERE WE CAME IN? – THROUGH A LOOKING GLASS WITH LIONEL BART. Lionel Bart, of course, was responsible for the musical OLIVER! (the best musical ever, by the way – I’m a particular fan of the film which often fills a rainy Sunday afternoon here at chez Mind De-Coder), but this appears to be the soundtrack for a musical that was never actually written, conceived as a reflection of experience in songs and sounds. Written and performed by Bart himself, it’s a concept album divided into the seven stages of man with sub-titles to delineate each chapter – Pre-Birth, The Child, The Seeker, The Finder and The Lover. It features the cream of British jazz musicians and is perhaps best understood as classic English music hall filtered through the British psychedelia of the time (Bart was no stranger to the pleasures of LSD so you can see why I might be interested). I return to it several times throughout the show as this is an album you really ought to have heard at least once in your life – although some might unkindly say that once is certainly enough.
NO STRANGE VUOTO MIRABILE
This is just marvelous – you can almost see a lysergic haze emanating from your speakers. Initially formed back in 1980 by ex-punks Salvatore D'Urso und Alberto Ezzu, No Strange delve deep into the psychedelic experience, taking inspiration from such krautrock luminaries as Popol Vuh and Amon Düül II mixed with the tripped out soundtracks from Italian horror movies of the era and cosmic acid folk. IL SENTIERO DELLE TARTARUGHE (possibly ‘The Truffle Path’, but who knows?), released last year, combines all these elements into one far-out mix that revels in the visionary, artisanal, alienated, dreamlike, celestial-tenebrous, sacred, profane and totally immersive attitude of the band.
LIONEL BART DREAMCHILD
Following the heady success of Oliver! five years earlier, Lionel Bart destroyed his career and more or less bankrupted himself in 1965 with an ill-conceived, light-hearted musical romp based upon the merry adventures of Robin Hood. It was called TWANG! It was so bad it blighted his credibility forever, but he salvaged the acid-influenced Dreamchild for …ISN’T THIS WHERE WE CAME IN? which makes you wonder what it was doing in the TWANG! soundtrack in the first place.
RHUBARB RHUBARB RAINMAKER
There’s obscure, and there’s Rhubarb Rhubarb. They had the one single – it didn’t even merit a picture sleeve – it didn’t chart, and then they disappeared back into ye psychedelic foot-notes of tyme, but it chugs along with all joyful enthusiasm of a band who’d definitely watched A Magical Mystery Tour that Christmas and didn’t want to be left behind. I believe they came from Berkshire.
THE PARADOX WHAT’S THE RUSH DILBURY?
This from the Tamworth Herald, 13-06-1969:
TAMWORTH BOYS IN “POP” GROUP
Tamworth boys are members of a highly successful Birmingham “pop” group.
The group is called “Paradox” and is due to have a single and L.P. released in September.
Sixteen-year-old Charles Harrison of 5, Temple Row, Mill Lane, Tamworth, is bass guitarist with the group. He left the Mercian Boys’ School last July and worked as an apprentice at Messrs. Percy Lane’s on the Lichfield Road Industrial estate.
His parents bought him the guitar only fifteen months ago and Charles has had to work hard to master the instrument.
The other Tamworth boy is the most recent addition to the group. He is 18-year-old Victor Motorny, of 20, Bridge Street, Amington, who is the group’s new road manager.
Victor, who worked as a signal-man on British Rail, now drives the group to their different venues, such as London, Margate (next week) and Scotland last weekend.
He has to make sure they get to where they are playing in time and is responsible for seeing that all their equipment is set up. Victor also operates the lights in the “paradox’s” light show.
The group went into the “Mercury” recording studios on June 1 and it took the 12 hours to record four tracks. They are playing in London clubs and are popular in Birmingham.
PSYCHIC MARKERS SEA WAVES
Psychic Markers are a band made up of bits and bobs of other bands I’ve never heard of but their second album, HARDLY STRANGERS, released earlier this year, is a cohesively cosmic affair taking in 50’s-tinged doo-wop, psychedelic otherness, lush cinematic soundscapes and elongated krautrock jams that owe as much to Joe Meek as they do Conny Plank. It’s a marvelous trip.
LIONEL BART TRA-LA-LA
THE BEATLES DEAR PRUDENCE
The Beatles’ eponymously entitled 9th album, or THE WHITE ALBUM, as the rest of us call it, is a sprawling schizophrenic affair but, for many, therein lies its brilliance. Fractured, dislocated and polarizing, it contains arguably some of their most extreme material and yet contains moments of quiet wonder, like Lennon’s Dear Prudence, written for Prudence Farrow (sister of Mia, of course) in Rishikesh who, according to accounts, became so serious about her meditation that she became a virtual recluse and had to be encouraged out of the cottage she was living in. Fans will be aware that it’s McCartney on drums, following one of those occasions when Ringo had left the band briefly.
DJ KOZE MUSIC ON MY TEETH
DJ Koze, a German gentleman I understand, seems to be an in-demand DJ who works the big-room European dance circuit but also creates albums that seem to exist in some intriguing place between genres, effortlessly mixing French House, 70s soul, boom-bap beats and minimalist techno with a psychedelic sensibility that finds the hidden connections between Arthur Russell and krautrock, shoegaze and disco. On the lo-fi strum of Music on My Teeth, from his most recent release KNOCK KNOCK, he even seems to be toying with hauntology, imbuing the recording with the feel of a decaying, colour-saturated film strip. If this was a direction he chose to pursue I feel sure he’d be able to blow minds, as it is, KNOCK KNOCK and his previous release, 2013’s AMYGDALA, are a trip unto themselves and well worth checking out.
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE CUSHINGURA
Blink and you’ll miss it, Cushingura is the only truly psychedelic track on Jefferson Airplane’s 1968 release, CROWN OF CREATION, and comes in at a tuneless, but experimental, one minute and eighteen seconds. The rest of the album is given over to a harder rock sound than was found on their previous albums, and there’s some lovely acid-folk stylings that refer back to SURREALISTIC PILLOW, but there’s nothing on there that comes close to the far-out psychedelia of AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS, except this little affair, significant, in and of itself, because it was one of the first attempts to introduce electronic music on a rock album. On the whole, I’m more of a fan of their 1967 output.
LIONEL BART LOOKING GLASS, LOOKING GLASS/GETTING IT ALL TOGETHER (excerpt)
ROLLING STONES CHILD OF THE MOON
Despite being recorded early on as part of what would become the BEGGAR’S BANQUET sessions, the album on which The Rolling Stones renounced psychedelia forever and returned to their, ho-hum, blues roots for grounded inspiration, Child of the Moon, released as the b-side to 1968’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, owes more to their THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST period, and, as such, marks the break between psychedelic indulgence and what was to follow. I lost interest in the Stones at more or less this point (being a fan of psychedelic indulgence, an’ all) – I get BEGGAR’S BANQUET, I really do, but I’m always going to prefer the Brian Jones version of the band.
WIMPLE WINCH BLUEBELL WOOD
Wimple Winch were one of the few Merseybeat bands who expanded their sound to take in psychedelia and, in one instance, pioneered a proto-punk sound, but despite local support, commercial success eluded them. Much of what they recorded after 1967 remained unreleased, including the rather fine Bluebell Wood, all of which have been collected together on the album TALES FROM THE SINKING SHIP, released in 2005, a collection of songs that demonstrates just how weird a seemingly ordinary band could become under the influence of acid.
THE MIRAGE HELLO ENID
Like Wimple Winch, The Mirage achieved a near complete lack of commercial success, and if you’ve heard of them at all it will be because of their single The Wedding of Ramona Blair which has appeared on a number of psychedelic compilations over the years. Hello Enid, a song clearly at home to Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play (although they were just as indebted to The Beatles and The Hollies), remained unreleased but can be found on a compilation of singles, demos and lost tracks called TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS, released in 2006.
EPISODE 6 I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU
Episode 6 weren’t so much obscure as unfortunate – in their career they released some 9 singles, each of which spectacularly failed to chart. One explanation for this is that they were simply too versatile for their own good – I Can See Through You is an excellent example of British psychedelia circa 1968, but it merely served as one instance of what the band were capable of, giving the group a sort of dilettantish quality that was difficult to market. Curiously, they found minor success in Beirut where the band were forced to do a long Christmas season due to financial difficulties and lack of chart success anywhere else in the world. Group members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left in 1969 to join Deep Purple and that was that.
SMELL OF INCENSE WHY DID I GET SO HIGH?
At first listen you would think the playful Why Did I Get So High? was another slice of ’68-era psychedelia, in the style of The Smoke’s My Friend Jack, say, but, in fact, you will find this throwaway gem on the debut album by my new favourite listen Smell Of Incense. Released in 1994, ALL MIMSY WERE THE BOROGOVES, captures the musical mettle of ‘68 by delivering acid-folk overtures, Eastern exoticism, West Coast psychedelia and extended space jams that take in Pentangle, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues among many others. The joy of listening to the band is that they so completely embrace their influences you can almost smell the patchouli oil wafting out of the speakers.
LIONEL BART DON’T LOOK AT ME, JUST LISTEN
EIRE APPARENT CAPTIVE IN THE SUN
The lovely Captive In The Sun is one of many overlooked gems on the debut album SUNSHINE by Northern Irish psychedelicists Eire Apparent. Released in 1968, the album is a mix of lyrical acoustic and electric guitar sounds, some tasteful light orchestrations (strings and horns), proto-prog trappings and trippy lyrical conceits all of which combine to produce an ambitious psych-pop artefact that’s, sadly, mostly known for being produced by Jimi Hendrix, who also makes guest appearances on several tracks, including this one. The band split up in 1970 but nobody was paying attention.
The particularly weird one on an album of strange and weird recordings by Eroc, drummer and bandleader of the semi-legendary Grobschnitt. His debut album, simply called EROC, released in 1975, is a mixture of electronic sound and tape recordings filtered through a free-thinking German pastoralism which owes something to the Faust Tapes in spirit and ranks right up there with the very best Krautrock has to offer.
NOEL GALLAGHER BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
It’s dadrock, but it’s produced by David Holmes, so I find myself pulled in conflicting directions – a bit like the album WHO BUILT THE MOON? Noel’s songwriting remains indebted to the Beatles and the blues, but Holmes’ production lends an air of experimental shimmer to the proceedings. Let’s just say that they both appear to be enjoying themselves.
MILDLIFE TWO HORIZONS
Melbourne-based space-kraut-jazz outfit Mildlife do an absolutely superb line in kaleidoscopic jams that take in jazz, psyche and disco with the perfect amalgamation of cosmic electronics and soulful acoustic instrumentation. Their debut album, PHASE, released earlier this year, combines kaleidoscopic atmospherics with undulating synth patterns to produce a funky, irresistible groove. Cosmic.
LIONEL BART ‘TIL THE DAY THAT I DIE
PINK FLOYD SEE-SAW
A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, released in 1968, saw Pink Floyd struggling to find a way forward without Syd Barrett, their principal songwriter, and essentially sticking to the formula he’d created for PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN – yearning psych-pop tales of childhood and wonder combined with spaced-out explorations that would eventually signal a way forward. Rick Wright’s See-Saw falls into the former category but is nonetheless pleasant enough for all that – the slightly mawkish lyrics are offset by some fantastic use of the Mellotron which provides an abyss of strange noise to lose yourself in.
KEITH SEATMAN WINTER SANDS
A necessarily atmospheric piece by Keith Seatman, musician, DJ, owner of some synths, records and all manner of old tat, for the latest release by A YEAR IN THE COUNTRY, called AUDIO ALBION, an album which functions as something of a music and field recording map of Britain, focussing on rural and edgeland areas. Intertwined with the literal recording of locations, the album explores the history, myths and beliefs of the places, their atmospheres and undercurrents, personal and cultural connections - the layered stories that lie amongst, alongside and beneath the earth, plants and wildlife. Seatman’s contribution, Winter Sands, appears to have been inspired by a wintery stroll along the beach at East Wittering, in West Sussex, in which he was in danger of being caught by the rapidly advancing tide.
A Year In The Country is a set of year-long explorations of an otherly pastoralism, the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams.
It is a wandering amongst work that takes inspiration from the hidden and underlying tales of the land, the further reaches of folk music and culture and where such things meet and intertwine with the lost futures, spectral histories and parallel worlds of what has come to be known as hauntology.
Those explorations take the form of this website, the posts/artwork on it, music and book releases. You can find out more here
SMALL FACES TIN SOLDIER
Quite frankly, Tin Soldier is one of the greatest records ever made, and it’s not just made who thinks so – I understand that in 1997 Mojo magazine voted it the 10th best record of all time, but then that’s exactly the sort of thing they would do. Originally written for fellow label mate P.P. Arnold, Steve Marriot liked it so much he kept it for the Small Faces, although Arnold does sing backing vocals. A return to their R n B roots after Itchycoo Park, the band nevertheless retain their psychedelic edge and throw everything they have at the song creating a rarely matched example of the Small Faces at their very best.
LIONEL BART MAY A MAN BE MERRY?
Released as a single to promote the album, this is generally regarded as the best thing on it, with fans being particularly taken with the loungecore funk vibe that permeates this track. The mad piano break approximately two minutes in is a splendid thing indeed.