MIND DE-CODER 81
Leave your cares behind, Come with us and find,
The pleasures of a journey to the centre of the mind.
The Amboy Dukes
THEE LOADED ANGELS AQUARIUS RISING
When I first came across this track it made me completely re-think Andy Weatherall’s production for Primal Scream’s Loaded. Like everyone else at the time I assumed he’d been inspired to lift the spoken intro from Peter Fonda’s rabble-rousing speech in Roger Corman’s 1966 film The Wild Angels but having listened to this I’m not so sure – the hint is even there in the name: Thee Loaded Angels. Thee Loaded Angels is actually just one of many pseudonyms used by Psychic TV on their subversive acid house classic JACK THE TAB/TEKNO ACID BEAT, released under the guise of a compilation album in 1988. In actual fact, Psychic TV’s Genesis P-Orridge and The Grid’s (and latterly, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s) Richard Norris are responsible for all the tracks on the album, which was essentially Britain’s first acid house album. It may have been conceived as something of an art-house prank, but P-Orridge was presciently ahead of the game and although most of the album now sounds dated, the vignettes and sound clips between tracks, of which Aquarius Rising is one, still sound great. This is exactly the sort of album that I imagine a young Andy Weatherall would have been listening to, although, of course, I may be entirely wrong about the whole thing.
THE AMBOY DUKES JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE MIND
Think what you like about Ted Nugent – for the record, I think he’s a deeply unpleasant individual, to say the least – his guitar playing on this track is exhilarating. Released as a single in 1968, it was the band’s only hit, taken from the album of the same name, which saw the band move on from their blues roots and try to embrace the counter-culture with newly adopted psychedelic embellishments. It seems this was a direction that fellow songwriter Steve Farmer was more willing to undertake than Nugent himself, who claims that he didn’t know the song was about the LSD experience. This alone tells you much of what you need to know about him.
OCS MEMORY OF A CUT OFF HEAD
This is the rather lovely title track to last year's album, which saw the band briefly return to their psych-folk roots. MEMORY OF A CUT OFF HEAD is the first album released under the moniker of OCS since 2005 – more recent recordings as Thee Oh Sees are notable for their raucous, energetic garage rock stylings, say, which I can’t really be doing with because they eschew what we might charitably call tunes. This is a more delicate affair, offering up lush orchestrations and acoustic loveliness, albeit in a vein that suggests that the world has recently ended and they are left playing their songs amidst the grim aftermath.
THE CREATION LIFE IS JUST BEGINNING
The Creation were one of those bands who had an overwhelmingly seminal influence on the British psych-pop scene but who were relatively unknown to the record-buying public, who remained blissfully unaware of them. Their one hit record, Painter Man, just made the Top 40 in 1966 (and was successfully covered by Boney M 1979 who made the Top 10 with it) but its b-side, Biff Bang Pow, was taken up by Creation records supremo Alan McGee as the name for his band whilst also naming his record label after them. Ride, Paul Weller, Pete Townshend, and The Sex Pistols were fans whilst Jimmy Page, no stranger to flattering his peers (as it were) imitated guitarist Eddie Phillips’ use of playing the guitar with a violin bow on Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused, so one way or another they really should have been more famous than they were. As it was, success eluded them in England although they were massively popular in Germany where they managed to release an album in1967compiled of previously released singles and hastily recorded cover versions called WE ARE PAINTERMEN. The very fine Life Is Just Beginning was released in 1967 as a single but it failed to chart – by 1968 the band had split but their legacy, as they say, lived on long after them. Don’t even get me started on Clive Dunn’s Grandad.
GIOVANNI BATTISTA PERGOLESSI KYRIE ELEISON/CHRISTIE ELEISON
Something of a baroque masterpiece, Pergolessi’s MASS OF ST. EMIDIO was commissioned in 1732 when the composer was only 26. Celebrated as a composer of sacred music, the piece is a showcase of Pergolesi’s mastery of late-Baroque double-choir techniques and the new galant style of writing for virtuoso solo voices, none of which means very much to me, but my son came home from college raving about its use of polyphonic layered melodies and things of that nature in general and, given that he shed an honest tear at the passing of XXXTentacion recently, he’s possibly a bigger fan of music than myself and knows of what he speaks, so I felt compelled to check it out. Couldn’t be doing with XXXTentacion at all, but was blown away by Pergolessi’s Mass and how many of the defining characteristics of your baroque style were later co-opted by the more florid elements of psychedelia. In truth, I felt right at home listening to it and couldn’t wait to include it in a show.
THE CHOCOLATE WATCH BAND THE INNER MYSTIQUE
It’s a bit of a misnomer to suggest that this track is by The Chocolate Watchband at all, given that the album it’s taken from, the titular INNER MYSTIQUE, released in 1968, barely contained any music or vocals by the band despite their name being there on the album sleeve. Side 1 of the album, from which the superb Inner Mystique is taken, consists of music played entirely by session musicians, whilst Side 2 of the album – consisting of blistering cover versions composed of out-takes from their first album - had singer’s Dave Agular vocals replaced on two tracks by session vocalist Don Bennet. Why this would be is down to the band’s producer who cobbled the album together because of his belief in the band as a concept, rather than an actual entity. I understand he never saw the band play live and had no idea that they were a confrontational, snarling garage-band who oozed punk defiance on stage, preferring to write soft psychedelic tracks for them to perform in the studio, laced with sitar and flute. Despite this, THE INNER MYSTIQUE is something of a fan favourite, possibly because of its schizophrenic nature, and features many of their favourite recordings - it is in no way representative of the group’s sound but still one of the defining psychedelic garage punk albums of the 60s.
THE MIRAGE EBENEEZER BEAVER
I’ve become a big fan of The Mirage recently and I don’t believe that I’ve even got around to playing their one notable more-or-less hit The Wedding Of Ramona Blair yet. As far as I can tell Ebeneezer Beaver, recorded 1967, was never released but appears on the 2006 album TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – THE POP SIKE WORLD OF THE MIRAGE: SINGLES AND LOST SESSIONS which pretty much does what it says on the label. Clearly inspired by The Beatles and The Hollies, and to some extent The Who and The Kinks, they were never as original or convincing as their role models and thus were doomed to become a footnote to the sound of the lysergic 60s – nevertheless a handful of their tracks, Ebeneezer Beaver included, were definitively psychedelic and deserve to be heard wherever psychedelic music is played (so that would be right here then).
AMBROSE SLADE KNOCKING NAILS INTO MY HOUSE
Before they became the seasonal-defining cultural behemoth known as Slade, they were a little-known Midlands rock band called Ambrose Slade who’s one album, BEGINNINGS, was released in 1969 to cheerful indifference. It contained a diverse mix of cover versions - including The Amboy Dukes’ Journey To The Centre Of The Mind, as well as songs by Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Steppenwolf, The Moody Blues, and Marvin Gaye – and a couple of self-penned tracks, none of which hinted at the glories to come. Knocking Nails Into My House was penned by Jeff Lynne for The Idle Race, and is pretty indicative of the rest of the album as a whole, although their cover of The Beatles’ Martha My Dear has been described elsewhere as ‘heinous’. It’s an interesting album, though; Noddy Holder’s vocals were already in place, and they know their way around a tune – at times it sounds like The Small Faces – but they were very much a band looking for direction. Coz I Luv You and their unassailable domination of the British charts was still two years away.
THE FACTORY TRY A LITTLE SUNSHINE
Released in 1969, this was The Factory’s second and, indeed, last single – a blistering soundsplash of buzzes, thrashed guitars, and oddly angelic vocal stylings that fall somewhere between The Who and Cream. It was written for them by John Pantry (more on whom later) who also provided the vocals. It was banned by the BBC, who took exception to the extortion to try some LSD (‘sunshine’ being slang for a particularly fine line in LSD) and the band split up shortly after, although both sides of their two singles, as well as a couple of unreleased demos, were assembled for the PATH THROUGH THE FOREST mini-CD in 1995.
THE CHILLS KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD
In October The Chills will play their first (and most likely last) gig on Waiheke so I thought I’d commemorate that by playing this gorgeous track on the show. I’ve been a massive fan of the band since I came across this album in a record shop in Romford back in 1986, released by a nascent Creation records in England (Flying Nun in New Zealand, of course) and it quickly became a bedsit fave. In truth, I’d never heard of the band before and bought it strictly on the strength of its cover, which suggested sugary psychedelic confection awaited within. I wasn’t disappointed, although the songs, whilst undeniably at home to Syd Barrett, were more jingly-jangly than psychedelic per se and you can see why Alan McGee liked them. Over the years the album has been re-released a couple of time, each time growing a little longer as extra tracks were added to that initial selection of 8 pristine songs – the last copy of the album I brought had 24 tracks on it in all, but it’s still the original vinyl release I return to when the mood takes me. For the last 30 odd years or so, Kaleidoscope World has remained one of my favourite songs ever – never strictly a single, it appeared as the first track on the Dunedin Double, a seminal EP shared between four bands, which introduced the world the sound of young Dunedin in 1982. Its playful lyrics and familiar chimes of jingle-jangle guitar over a background bass pulse and swirling organ never fails to put a smile on my face and you can be sure I have my ticket ready for when they arrive. I wonder if I can get my copy of the album autographed? That would be a thing, wouldn’t it?
SPROATLY SMITH CANARY BABIES
For its latest release, the wonderful A Year In The Country site brings us THE QUIETENED MECHANISMS, an album which explores the abandoned and derelict industry, infrastructure, technology and equipment that once upon a time helped to create, connect and sustain society. Featuring music from the likes of Keith Seatman, The Heartwood Institute, Time Attendant and Vic Mars, it wanders amongst deserted factories, discarded machinery, closed mines, mills and kilns and their echoes and remains; taking a moment or two to reflect on these once busy, functioning centres of activity and the sometimes sheer scale or amount of effort and human endeavour that was required to create and operate such structures and machines, many of which are now just left to fade away.
Herefordshire’s purveyors of lysergic wyrd-folk, Sproatly Smith, provide the exquisite Canary Babies, a track inspired by the Rother Ordnance Factory, which once employed 6000 staff, mainly women, making bombs and shells during both world wars, risking their lives from shells exploding, poisonous chemicals that turned their skin yellow, and from German air raids. It was shut down in 1967 and still lays abandoned, crumbling in the middle of an industrial estate.
THE KINKS TIME SONG
The Kinks, of course, could never be doing with psychedelic music, but given the cultural climate of the times, they occasionally came to within a stone’s throw of the limpid pool of psychedelia even if they didn’t actually dip their toes in. Time Song is a case in point. A previously unreleased track from 1968 taken from the remastered 50th anniversary reissue of THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, it’s a gentle meditation on lazy ways and the passing of days, sung over a slow, hazy waltz of acoustic guitar and piano that is, at the very least, ruminative, allowing one to speculate quietly on mortality and things of that nature in general, creating the smallest of ripples in that limpid pool. Lovely.
THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND A VERY CELLULAR SONG
On occasions, I sometimes return to The Incredible String Band and try to get them. I know I’m supposed to like them, and on paper they seem like my favourite band ever; their combination of exotic Middle Eastern and Asian instrumentation wedded to a whimsical, haunting, esoteric acid-folk vision of Albion seems such a winning formula – and then they start singing. It’s as if they spent so much time mastering the likes of all those ouds, gimbris, qanuns and tamburas that no one thought to include singing lessons on their to-do list. Anyway, that’s just me. I understand that elsewhere in your psych-folk circles they’re still quite highly regarded. Last week I gave their 1968 release THE HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER a spin, beguiled, as ever, by the promise of its cover and found myself humming along to A Very Cellular Song, the album’s centre-piece, and I didn’t find the experience entirely disagreeable. It’s a 13-minute reflection on life, love, and amoebas, consisting of a suite of short pieces sewn together with the folk song Bid You Goodnight. Along the way, it weaves between Bahamian funerary music, East Indian incantation, and ancient Celtic mysticism and is often considered to be composer Mike Heron’s masterpiece. As for me, I prefer to say nothing but will continue with the occasional dipping of toes into the limpid pool of The Incredible String Band slightly more often in future.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.
PINK LADY LEMONADE (YOU’RE MY ORB)
The Mighty Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. have always had a soft spot for the sweet Pink Lady Lemonade – two separate recordings already exist and on the newest release, ELECTRIC DREAM ECSTASY, they return to it twice more, the You’re My Orb acoustic version featuring pastoral, complex string arrangements, ghostly synths and harmonica, and the side-long epic Electric Dream Ecstasy proto-disco version which I’ll save for another day. Gorgeous and timeless as ever, Pink Lady Lemonade (You’re My Orb) makes for a dreamy exploration of inner space, allowing the mind to float hither and thither across a free-form soundscape of narcotic desire. I’m a fan, me.
THE MONKEES RANDY SCOUSE GIT
…or Alternate Title as it is often known, quickly changed to protect the sensibilities of its English audience, and, no doubt, to spare American listeners from wondering just who or what a Randy Scouse Git is or does. Famously written by Micky Dolenz in 1967, it’s something of an account of party thrown for them by The Beatles at the fashionable Speakeasy club in London supposedly written the next day whilst watching the popular sitcom ‘Til Death Do Us Part, where he couldn’t help but note that English audiences were reduced to paroxysms of laughter whenever Alf Garnett would refer to his son-in-law as the randy scouse git in question. Dolenz didn’t know what it meant, but the audience seemed to find it hysterical, so it quickly became the song’s title, and was just as quickly changed at the insistence of the band’s English record company, RCA, who wouldn’t release it unless he gave the song an ‘alternate title’, and, thus, the legend surrounding the song was born. It’s also one of the best songs they ever wrote, of course.
PETER AND THE WOLVES LITTLE GIRL LOST AND FOUND
Peter and The Wolves were an obscure psych act by any standards although singer John Pantry also seems to have had a career as a songwriter, producer and sound engineer which saw him working with the likes of The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The New Seekers, Pentangle and Barry Ryan, amongst others. His songs were often aimed at the soft psych-pop end of the market, and Little Girl Lost And Found, released as a single in 1967, has the same vibe as a bubblegum Bee Gees doing Syd Barrett, namechecking many of the standard reference points of British psychedelia at the time, but other than that there’s not much else I can tell you about the band – I think it’s a great little single though. I don’t suppose it troubled the charts at all. John Pantry is now a vicar in Kent.
DEERHUNTER DIAL’S METAL PATTERNS
One of my favourite releases this year has been Deerhunter’s tour-only cassette release DOUBLE DREAM OF SPRING. The cassette was limited to a run of 300 copies, so unless you were lucky enough to have been at the first gig of what was then their current tour (they sold all their copies that first night) you will be relying on some considerate soul putting their copy online (I am here to assure you that that considerate soul exists). What you get to hear is a highly experimental release which sounds somewhere between ghostly Faust-esque demos and lo-fi avant-garde ambient compositions that dissolve from ambient murmurings to jazz-inflected trip-hop grooves, often within the space of the same track. Dial’s Metal Pattern’s has a wigged-out Stereolab-ish feel to it (Bradford Cox has worked with Lætitia Sadier before) – elsewhere the album feels deliberately vague and incomplete, but never less than tuneful and brimming with ideas that may or may not find their way onto their soon-to-be-completed Cate Le Bon produced album, which I find myself getting more and more excited about.
LOVE ORANGE SKIES
1966’s DA CAPO captured Love in a transitional phase, evolving from the frenetic garage folk of their debut album to the lush, psychedelic textures of their third release, FOREVER CHANGES. The album’s first single, the tremolo drenched Seven & Seven Is, is a direct link to the energy and verve of the debut and rightfully became a garage-punk classic. In contrast, the altogether more gentle Bryan Maclean-penned Orange Skies, with its subtle samba rhythms and exotic instrumentation, pointed the way forward for the group.
KENNELMUS PATTI’S DREAM
For an album that’s routinely dismissed as clumsy, with almost totally unmusical vocals, wild, undisciplined instrumentation and way over the top studio production, there’s something quite compelling about this sole release by Kennelmus, Arizona’s ‘hardest working surf band’. Released in 1971, FOLKSTONE PRISM was limited to 1000 copies, hardly any of which sold, and yet it has a schizophrenic charm that takes in Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks, Lost in Space electronic tinkering, and visionary tripped-out peyote induced flourishes combined with folk and garage rock elements that suggest that this was a band brimming with ideas. Patti’s Dream enjoys the sort of acid-soaked guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Calexico album produced by Joe Meek. In fact, I can’t recommend the album enough.
PROCOL HARUM A WHITER SHADE OF PALE
I can’t think of a single thing to say about this track that hasn’t already been said. Released in 1967 this is the sound of British pop music transcending the confines of the 3-minute single into something more rarefied, evocative and celestial – in many ways, it’s so clever that there’s an argument for suggesting that this song is the precursor to what would become prog. It’s one of the best-selling singles in history, having sold over 10 million copies, it’s the most played record by British broadcasting, and was number 1 in the charts the same time that The Beatle’s were number 1 with SGT PEPPER’S, thus pretty much kick-starting the Summer of Love – not bad for the band’s debut single. As to what its about or what a fandango truly is, whole books have been written and documentaries made. I just played it because It seemed like the right song, at the right time, for the right show, and its baroque complexity goes back to what I was saying about baroque compositions and psychedelia earlier, although, at the time I was thinking of The Moody Blues. It just goes to show – something was in the air (on the G string, as it were).
THE ORB DRIFT
A superior bit of filler from The Orb, taken from their latest release NO SOUNDS ARE OUT OF BOUNDS. This is The Orb’s 15th album and, as time goes on, one begins to expect less and less from them – or rather, him, as The Orb these days revolves around Alex Paterson and a revolving cast of collaborators, with this album being no exception. No Orb album can escape the shadow of the towering ADVENTURES BEYOND THE ULTRAWORLD but their new album gives it a pretty good go. Drenched in ganga-smoked dub, ambient minimalism and sound collages which explore both inner and outer space, NO SOUNDS ARE OUT OF BOUNDS is hugely enjoyable, pursuing its own sonic palette with all the insouciance of one having nothing left to prove. It also finishes with a 15-minute journey that will no doubt find its way onto next week’s show.
THE BYRDS SPACE ODYSSEY
The closing track from 1967’s THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS, Space Odyssey, finds Roger McGuinn speculating on the role of either a supreme being or extra-terrestrial species in the evolution of humankind. Although this track was released prior to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, both Kubrick and McGuinn adapted the theme from the same source – Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, The Sentinel. McGuinn approaches the arrangement as though he was adapting a sea chanty for The Byrds repertoire, although the lyrics also work to the tune of While Shepherd’s Watched Their Flocks By Night (try it). THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS is the best thing they ever did – the culmination of their previous four albums, and made before they went full-on country and became hairy. On it they embrace psychedelic rock, psychedelic folk and psychedelic country music - mostly they just embrace psychedelia in all of its colourful manifestations. I sometimes think that Julian Cope’s INTERPRETER album is entirely indebted to Space Odyssey – I mean, it probably isn’t, but it is. Like in most things, The Byrds were doing it first.