Monday, 8 February 2021

MIND DE-CODER 99


MIND DE-CODER 99

To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page

 

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw

Or heard or felt came not from but myself

And there I found myself more truly and more strange

                                                                                        Wallace Stevens

 

THE GUN     TAKE-OFF


The Gun were a power trio that earnt their psychedelic chops opening for the likes of Pink Floyd, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Tomorrow at the legendary UFO club. By the time they came to release their debut album, GUN, in 1968, their psychedelic sound had warped into something that was heavier, even, than Hendrix or Cream. On Take-Off, the album’s closing track (but this show’s opening salvo - because you can’t beat a good countdown to open a show), the trio expand their sound into something that’s simultaneously psychedelic, progressive and heavy - a sort of proto-prog, proto-metal wig-out that throws caution to the wind with an 11-minute psychedelic odyssey that, at the very least, left a trail of sonic breadcrumbs for Hawkwind to follow. And the cover art was the very first of Roger Dean’s long and fruitful career.

 

MAN     AND IN THE BEGINNING… 

...and speaking of your proto-prog/psychedelic rock crossovers, Man grew from the ashes of little-known Welsh pop group The Bystanders, before evolving into a fully-fledged psychedelic blues outfit poised to explore the giddy world of acid rock. Their debut album, REVELATION, released in 1969, is something of a psychedelic pop/rock concept album based upon nothing less than the evolution and development of man, which it does through the use of sound effects and Hammond-drenched guitar rock which, just occasionally, puts one in mind of Spinal Tap. I understand that their career took off in the 1970s and some permutation of the band appears to be releasing albums still (25 at last count) but it all began here.

 

TODD RUNDGREN     INTERNATIONAL FEEL/NEVER NEVER LAND/TIC TIC TIC IT WEARS OFF


As the 70s rolled round I found I had to turn to Germany for my psychedelic fix - therefore discovering Todd Rundgren’s A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR, released in 1973, came as something of an astonishing surprise. I was absolutely blown away at just how mind-bendingly psychedelic this album is, and I look forward with eager anticipation to listening to it as nature intended (as it were) in the near future. In the meantime, here are the opening three tracks of Side 1’s The International Feel (in 8) suite to give you a taste of what to expect if, like me, you’ve been unfortunate enough not to have had this hallucinogenic delight in your life. Conceived as a psychedelic flight-plan, taking in prog, psychedelic rock, Broadway show tunes, bubblegum pop, and Philadelphia soul, songs and melodies float in and out of a hazy psychedelic mist in multi-coloured, unpredictable ways taking the listener on a journey that’s truly cosmic, and expansive. Particularly recommended for any psycho-nautical explorations you may have in mind.

 

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP     TIMESELLER


 Following the departure of Steve and Muff Winwood from the group, Davis hired vocalist Eddie Hardin and set about exploring a new psychedelic direction that wasn’t, it must be said, entirely successful. There’s no doubting, however, that Time Seller, released in 1967 is nothing less than a pop-psych classic.

 

THE BEATLES     WILD HONEY PIE

Meanwhile, while the rest of the world was still playing catch-up with SGT. PEPPERS, The Beatles had calmly moved things on with THE BEATLES (or THE WHITE ALBUM, of course) released in 1968. Wild Honey Pie doesn’t sound like anything that had ever come before it, or, indeed, anything much that has followed it. Recorded entirely by McCartney, and generally regarded as filler on an album of over-ambitious self-indulgence, I’ve always had a soft spot for it. It’s certainly not one of the tracks I leave off when curating my own truncated version of the album, but that’s a conversation for another day. This is the 2018 Giles Martin remix, so it comes with added twang. 


CHAD AND JEREMY     PAINTED DAYGLOW SMILE


 Chad Stuart’s and Jeremy Clyde’s THE ARK is one of the great lost psychedelic albums of 1968, despite being very much at home to the previous year’s SGT. PEPPERS. Produced by Gary Usher, who’d recently helmed The Byrds’ sonic masterpiece YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY, assisted by Mind De-Coder favourite Curt Boettcher and The Wrecking Crew, the album is a joyously experimental affair; playful, lysergic and full of acid-pop originals like Painted Dayglow Smile. Sadly the world had moved on and the album sunk without a trace, taking the duo – who’d changed from mop-top minstrels to psychedelic musical sculptors in the six years they were together – with it.


 THE FREEBORNE     VISIONS OF MY OWN

 

The Freeborne enjoyed a musical virtuosity that belied their years - aged between 17-19 they nevertheless had the musical chops to include pianos, harpsichords, cellos, trumpets, flutes and recorders on their only album, PEAK IMPRESSIONS, released in 1968. Visions Of My Own starts off life as a gentle affair; nocturnal, plaintive, swimming in a lysergic haze, and then, out of nowhere, a spectral civil war-era military band drifts by on the way to who knows where and takes your mind with it.

 

THE YARDBIRDS     TURN INTO EARTH 

The Yardbirds debut album proper (eponymously titled but often referred to as ROGER THE ENGINEER because of rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja’s cartoon rendition of studio technician Roger Cameron - but then, everyone knows that) showcases the band as they begin to explore bold new sonic territories, pushing their Clapton-era blues-rock sound into the realms of the avant-garde, psychedelia and Indian music, often the result of Clapton replacement Jeff Beck’s innovative guitar work. The meditative Turn Into Earth incorporates Gregorian chants alongside Beck’s use of reverb creating a track that shimmers with a lysergic elegance. Released in 1966, pre-REVOLVER, the album offers a snapshot of London just as it began to swing, The album’s weakest tracks are when the band remains beholden to the blues, but their psychedelic explorations point to a year just waiting to explode.

 

PINK FLOYD     ARNOLD LAYNE 

Try as I might I’ve never really cared for Pink Floyd’s debut single, Arnold Layne, released in those giddy days of 1967, a few weeks after The Beatles’ Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever paean to the psychedelic summer to end all psychedelic summers. Compared to its follow-up, the whimsical yet ravishing See Emily Play, Arnold Layne is strangely lacking - Syd’s voice is kind of flat, the harmonies are perfunctory, the rhythm section never fully establishes a groove, and Richard Wright’s trippy Farfisa solo halfway through seems imported from a song they hadn’t quite written yet. And yet, and yet, and yet it’s also an absolute triumph - spooky, atmospheric, innocent and dangerous, whimsical, odd and very psychedelic when British psychedelia was just finding its feet. So I have mixed feelings about it, but I was as surprised as you might think when I realised that I hadn’t yet actually played it on the show. Show 99 - I ask you!

 

 RUSSELL MORRIS     THE REAL THING (PARTS 1 AND 2)

Well, this is really quite marvellous. Russell Morris is an Australian singer-songwriter who’s enjoyed several Number1 singles throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s on his own turf, but The Real Thing, released in 1969 is a thing apart. Originally conceived as a simple acoustic ballad it somehow morphed into a swirling psychedelic barrage of music and sound effects, taking in an ominous spoken-word "buyer beware" message which was, in fact, producer Ian Meldrum's heavily filtered voice reading aloud from the product disclaimer on an Ampex recording tape box, heavily flanged production techniques, and a children’s choir sourced from an archive recording of a WWII Hitler Youth choir singing Die Jugend Marschiert (Youth on the March) before concluding dramatically with the children's choir shouting "Sieg Heil!" immediately followed by the cataclysmic sound of an atomic bomb explosion. The overall effect is quite overwhelming and it became, quite rightly in my opinion, the biggest selling Australian single of 1969 and is considered such a significant part of the late 1960s Australian rock story that it was recently made a new exhibit at the National Film & Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia. I don’t think it’s about drinking a coke.

 

BLACK SABBATH     PLANET CARAVAN


 The surprisingly lovely Planet Caravan makes for a mystical listening experience - not something one usually associates with Black Sabbath. Taken from PARANOID, the band’s 1970 release, it comprises some unusually tender lyrics about floating through the universe with one’s lover, gentle psychedelic embellishments, sparse percussion, flutes, and subtle jazz guitar giving this ethereal, otherworldly, recording a rather unique place in the Black Sabbath songbook. I understand that Planet Caravan was selected as the wake-up music for the crew of a SpaceX launch last year making it the first time astronauts have received a musical wake-up since the final shuttle mission in 2011. Good call.

 

NIK TURNER     GALAXY RISE 

Nik Turner - founding member of pioneering space-rock band Hawkwind - returned to his intergalactic roots on his 2013 release SPACE GYPSY. Featuring special guest appearances by fellow Hawkwind alumnus Simon House and Gong’s Steve Hillage this was always going to be a cosmic trip and the album doesn’t disappoint. The spacey squiggle effects are there, as are the spacey lead guitar workouts, drowsy vocals, chugging space jams, swooshing special effects, saxophone solos and, in the case of the blissful Galaxy Rise, some celestial flute playing from the great man himself.

 

SONIC BOOM     ON A SUMMER’S DAY

 

ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL is Pete Kember’s first album as Sonic Boom since 1990’s SPECTRUM, released shortly after the demise of Spacemen 3. Now, I was always a big fan of your Spacemen 3; less so your Spiritualised (apart from my unequivocal adoration of LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE ARE FLOATING IN SPACE, obvs.), but at least Jason Pierce could carry a tune - Pete Kember’s post-Spacemen 3 projects: EAR, Spectrum, and whatever he was getting up to with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields or Stereolab’s Tim Gane, were all about the ‘sound’ and almost always devoid of a good tune or melody you could hum on the way to the trouser shop - so I was pleased almost beyond measure to discover that his latest release is big on tunes. They’re accompanied behind whooshing, squelching, echoing vintage synths which oscillate, phase, drone and flange in minimalist, electronic ways, but the tunes are there, nevertheless. On A Summer’s Day, all gentle descending scales and soft drones, is first and foremost a beautiful ballad, drenched by waves of melodic, pastoral electronica. The whole thing is rather enchanting - Kember is clearly entranced and so are we.

 

ANDY BELL     GHOST TONES

 

Andy Bell - he of Ride, not Erasure - channels the spirit of Spacemen 3 on his first solo release, last year’s THE VIEW FROM HALFWAY DOWN. Elsewhere the album combines misty psychedelic dream-pop, uptempo shoegaze, trippy beats, woozy synths and, in the case of the enchanting finger-picked Ghost Tones, layered acoustic pastoralism. Most of the album’s track ebb and flow in propulsive, hypnotic swells that puts one in mind of The Beta Band’s sonic experimentation, but in this case, tempered by a refined sense of 60s classicism. A pleasant melange of psych-pop and electronica.

 

BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS     A GARDEN BY THE SEA

COSMORAMA, the most recent release from Portuguese collective Beautify Junkyards is, quite simply, a ravishment for the senses - flutes, mellotrons, and acoustic loveliness blend with tropical birdsong, sampled voices, library sounds, electronic noises and beautiful vocal harmonies rich with a whimsical melancholy that places the album somewhere between Broadcast and Os Mutantes. A Garden By The Sea is a gorgeous track, lost in time and space - woodwind and harp combine with haunted electronics and a tropicalia-tinged pastoralism  to create a sanctuary for the mind. It’s only February and already this is my album of the year.

 

NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS     EVERY GARDEN


 ON THE BLINK, the new album from Nathan Hall and The Sinister Locals, features songs about serpents, solar swans, bumbling bees, country houses, modern-day highwaymen, tin robots, avenging angels, orange elephants and, in the case of Every Garden, an earworm of a song that reminds me of Keats’ quintessential observation that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, a humble flower, perhaps of the variety that a Romantic poet might choose to rhapsodise or otherwise swoon over.  I very much feel the same way about this track, and the rest of the album is a charming delight; by turns pastoral, psychedelic, whimsical, melodic, buoyant, and lyrically playful yet tinged throughout with a sense of melancholic wonder. Lovely.

 

EL GOODO     THE GREY TOWER 

ZOMBIE, the new album from Welsh psychedelicists El Goodo, is an album steeped in 60’s psychedelia, made using an array of vintage gear. It references the likes of Elephant 6, Gene Clark, The Beatles, Beach Boys, and Scott Walker and yet still manages to sound fresh no matter how close they occasionally sail to pastiche. But what are we to make of a track like The Grey Tower, which gives a jaunty, carefree take on existential despair while shapeshifting in and out of different styles of music, at one point sounding like a Hassidic wedding band with a fondness for instrumental surf music, before descending into one of the most mind-bending and trippiest fade-outs I’ve experienced in some time? At this point, the band clearly transcends its influences and becomes greater than the sum of its parts as they follow their own idiosyncratic path through the sun-dappled meadows of psychedelia.

 

CAM’S JAMS     RASPBERRY SPARKLING SUNSHINE DRIPS (IN YOUR MIND) 

A song that pretty much well does what it says on the label, really. Cam’s Jams is Cameron Cowes who, on his debut album, simply called VOL. 1, released in 2019, plays around with many of the late ’60s psychedelic tropes and comes up with something uniquely trippy. This is the heaviest track on the album, mixing Eastern-influenced pop with something that wouldn’t have been out of place on Status Quo’s debut - the overall effect is experimental, immersive and deeply lysergic.

 

MOON WIRING CLUB     POSTHUMOUS SELF-PORTRAIT


 It always generates feelings of intoxicated bonhomie when Ian Hodgson’s Moon Wiring Club releases a new album. Having toyed with Jacobean breakbeat, he returns on his latest release, THE MOST UNUSUAL CAT IN THE VILLAGE, with something altogether more opiated and, indeed, with the beatless Posthumous Self-Portrait, hypnotic. This is one of four hallucinatory tracks on the album, each one coming in at 10 minutes or so, allowing the visitor the time to lose oneself in a deftly collaged hypnagogic dreamscape that is shonky, eerie and beautifully confusing.

 

GARCIA PEOPLES     (SOUND CONTROLS TIME)/A RECKONING/(LITMUS) 

Acid-folk jamming from Garcia Peoples and three sections from the elongated song suite that takes up Side 2 of their recent release NIGHTCAP AT WIT’S END, released last year. Guitars intertwine and themes appear and blur into one another in the style of The Grateful Dead, of course, but another reference point might well be The Moody Blues - Garcia Peoples inhabit that era where psychedelia was morphing into prog. The effect is both pastoral and cosmic, accompanied with Krautrock interludes which fully encapsulate the band's penchant for alchemic experimentation.

 

ANTON BARBEAU     FLYING ON THE GROUND IS ALRIGHT 

On his most recent album, the epic MANBIRD, Anton Barbeau charts a course across the psycho-geography of his influences from 1980s Sacramento to present-day Berlin . Best seen as something of a Jungian travelogue, he takes in psychedelia, prog, pop, wyrd-folk, the avant-garde, and krautrock, and still leaves room for ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, DEVO, Bowie, and Aphrodite’s Child to emerge as reference points. It’s a sprawling affair but works because of his mastery of melody, in-jokes and playful enthusiasm. Flying On The Ground Is Alright is celebratory, forgiving and weird in equal measure.

 

THE AVALANCHES     WEIGHTLESS


 Weightless is the closing track on The Avalanches’ most recent album WE WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU. In fact, it consists of little more than the sound of Morse code, an interstellar radio message beamed into space in 1974 from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. It contained, amongst other things, encoded information about human DNA and other indications of intelligent life to anyone in the cosmic vastness who might be listening. These days, of course, it would be something of a challenge to prove the existence of intelligent life on Earth, but it remains a remarkably good way to conclude the show.


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Wednesday, 9 December 2020

NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS - ON THE BLINK


I don’t often do album reviews - it may become a thing - but a new release from Nathan Hall and The Sinister Locals (he of Mind De-Coder favourites The Soft Hearted Scientists fame) is always cause for cheer in these here parts and I thought I’d just take a few moments to share the joy.


Recorded in a white-hot blaze of frustration following the postponement of a nearly completed Sinister’s album due to Covid restrictions, Hall seems to have played all of the instruments himself in his heroic attempt to release a new record. ON THE BLINK, a title that aptly sums up 2020, comprises 22 tracks that cover a huge range of styles, from radio-friendly 3 or 4-minute psych-pop singles such as Serpent on the Path, On the Blink, Stand and Deliver (already a firm favourite with this show) and When we are no Longer Numb to sprawling epics and song suites like The Wrong Song, Angels Understand and The Sea is in the Trees/The Sea Ignites the Stones.


Despite its provenance (or perhaps because of - who knows?), this is, nevertheless, an album to captivate the senses; colourful; buoyant; full of understated psychedelic flourishes and whimsical lyricism that have all the charm of a children’s playground chant. Songs often shimmer beneath a lysergic haze, others sparkle like dewdrops in a sunlit meadow - there’s clearly something in the water in Wales (or at least growing on the golf courses). Rather than the usual reference points (Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd in general) a far more useful comparison exists with P.G. Wodehouse - there is a playful lightness of touch with the instrumentation, and the wordplay delights and enchants. With 22 tracks there’s going to be a certain amount of eclecticism - Hall himself references Ennio Morricone, dub reggae, JJ Cale and The Beatles - but what holds it all together is his ability to knock out a melody that would have Paul McCartney in his Sgt. Pepper’s heyday scrabbling to take notes.


Overall, the album manages to mix lockdown seriousness with a playful, kaleidoscopic outlook, and I find myself feeling envious at the noises Nathan Hall must hear in his head.


You can check out his albums here

Enjoy 



Monday, 30 November 2020

MIND DE-CODER 98

MIND DE-CODER 98
To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page

‘The world is full of magical things, waiting for our senses to grow sharper’

                                                                                                                                  W.B. Yeats

PINK FLOYD     FLAMING


This is the 2011 remastered version of the song which originally appears on Pink Floyd’s debut album, the classic PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, of course, which was released in 1967 and remains, to this head, the greatest psychedelic album of all time and pretty much the benchmark against which all others are measured. Flaming remains as an exuberant piece of playful nursery-psych as you’re ever likely to hear, and one which sends us whirling through Syd Barrett’s acid wonderland in two minutes and forty-two seconds - unicorns are encountered and buttercups catch the light. Yippee, indeed. 

THE TEA COMPANY     COME AND HAVE SOME TEA WITH ME

In your hipper circles, tea was very much a euphemism for marijuana, although why this is so has been lost to the psychedelic mysts of tyme (although there’s a very enjoyable article about it in a recent issue of the trusty Shindig! magazine). Having clearly partaken of an odd cuppa or two, New York’s The Naturals changed their name to The Tea Company in 1967 and released their only album, COME AND HAVE SOME TEA WITH THE TEA COMPANY in 1968. Sitting somewhere between the far superior Vanilla Fudge and The Beatles, the album strikes a balance between West Coast flower child idealism and east Coast Velvet Underground style noise rock with added stereo sound effects - Come And Have Some Tea With Me, which opens the album, pretty much sets out their stall and drips with lysergic touches, including a music box, echoed horns and the sound of tea being poured into a cup.

SHIRLEY COLLINS     SONG OF SELF DOUBT

This is actually the opening track from the debut album, ANDROMEDA, by Alex Rex, the nom de guerre of Alex Neilson, formerly the drummer with much-lamented psych-folksters Trembling Bells. Song Of Self Doubt, however - a sparse assemblage of spoken words layered upon bright chimes and birdsong - is voiced by the legendary folk singer Shirley Collins, and provides a beautiful moment on an album otherwise characterised by songs of self-loathing and family tragedy.

THE DOORS     LOVE STREET

I’m no great fan of The Doors, me, finding them too beholden to the lumpen blues for my tender tastes, but you’d have to be a black-hearted Shakespearian villain to resist the charms of Love Street,  Morrison’s ode to girlfriend Pamela Coulson. Taken from their third album, 1968’s WAITING FOR THE SUN, Ray Manzarek’s keyboards delight and charm in equal measure making this, by far, one of the loveliest songs the band ever produced.

BLOSSOM TOES      LOOK AT ME I’M YOU

This is the opening salvo from the debut release by Blossom Toes, WE ARE EVER SO CLEAN, released in 1967, at the height of flower-power. It is sometimes described as the greatest pop-psych album ever produced, or, at the very least, ‘Georgio Gomeslsky’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, after their manager - the former Stones/Yardbirds svengali - who forced a new name and a new lysergic direction on an r’n’b covers band formerly called The Ingoes. It certainly touches on all those bases covered by Pink Floyd and The Beatles - tea and cakes are consumed on the lawn, budgerigars and balloons waft by on a summer’s breeze, and pharmaceuticals are ingested in Royal Gardens. Ignored at the time of its release, it is now considered something of a lost classic - a whimsical and melodic musical-hall vision of London’s sun-drenched Summer of Love. 

THE YARDBIRDS     THINK ABOUT IT

Think About It  is the absolutely blistering b-side to The Yardbirds 1968 release Goodnight Sweet Josephine. This was to be their last single before the split, and the a-side was nothing to jump up and down about, but this track, which features a barely restrained guitar wig-out Jimmy page would later re-purpose a year later for Led Zeppelin’s Dazed And Confused, was the shape of things to come.

JOHN CARTER AND RUSS ALQUIST     THE LAUGHING MAN

John Carter was a remarkably prolific songwriter who left his fingerprints on a number of hit records throughout the sixties and seventies but seldom released anything under his own name. The Laughing Man, released as a single in 1968 with fellow song-smith Russ Alquist, is something of a psychedelic oddity that falls just shy of being a novelty track due to its almost disturbing weirdness. By all accounts, much tea was consumed during the creation process.

WIMPLE WINCH     LOLLIPOP MINDS

Wimple Winch (old English for ‘Deep Well’, linguist fans) were one of the few Merseybeat bands who managed to incorporate psychedelic components into their sound. Originally calling themselves Just Four Men, they didn’t start gaining their cult following until they changed up their sound a bit, although their fame, such as it was, didn’t extend much further than the environs of Stockport. They released a handful of singles that sadly failed to set the charts alight but recorded a lot more. Over the years all these tracks have been anthologised on a number of albums - the whimsical Lollipop Minds (typical lyrics include: “Oh what pretty little beautiful lollipop minds we have/Butterfly's a fellow always dressed in yellow”), recorded after they split in 1967, can be found on the compilation TALES FROM THE SINKING SHIP, released in 2009. Erol Alkan is a fan.

JIGSAW    NORTHERN SKETCH #2/SAY HELLO TO MRS JONES/NORTHERN SKETCH #3

I don’t pretend to know much about the band Jigsaw, although I understand they enjoyed much success around the world and even wrote the hit song Who Do You Think You Are, much beloved by fans of Candlewick Green and St. Etienne, but their debut album, LETHERSLADE FARM, released in 1970, is a thing apart. Essentially it’s a concept album about musical theft, and the title refers to the hideout used by the Great Train Robbers in 1963. We get an assortment of musical styles that take in a Frank Sinatra pastiche, prog-rock classicism, the blues, and in the case of Say Hello To Mrs Jones, a Zombies-esque imitation, but that’s just the half of it. Littered amongst the tunes you’ll find the Northern Sketches, interviews with crooked managers, and a story arc about a pop star (whose stolen music we’re listening to) complete with interviews and vignettes from his life.  I return to these vignettes throughout the show but, really, file under: They don’t make them like this anymore. 

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL     SCARBOROUGH FAIR/CANTICLE

 

The loveliest of all songs by Simon and Garfunkel, I think, taken from their 1966 release PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY AND THYME. It’s a song with a story, of course - Martin Carthy arranged it in the form we know today, based on the traditional English ballad that’s at least 300 years old, but, much to his displeasure, it was a young Paul Simon who took that particular chord progression, and alongside Art Garfunkel’s counter-melody, turned it into the song we know today. No matter how often I come across it, it still has the power to stop me dead in my tracks, transfixed by its almost celestial grace. Time and repetition have not dimmed its transcendent beauty.

LINDA THOMPSON     EMBROIDERED BUTTERFLIES

Well, this is really quite lovely - Linda Thompson, one of Britain’s finest interpretive singers, puts a poem by my favourite poet, Brian Patten, to music, on a very rare album of his poems recorded in 1972. The album, VANISHING TRICK, was released in 1976 and features contributions from the likes of Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy and Neil Innes, but Linda’s interpretation of Embroidered Butterflies absolutely shines. The album is next to impossible to find but a couple of her contributions appear on Disc 1 of the recent career retrospective by Richard and Linda Thompson, HARD LUCK STORIES 1972-1982.

THE ROLLING STONES     LADY JANE


On which Brian Jones picks up the dulcimer, Jack Nitzche provides accompaniment on the harpsichord, and Mick Jagger takes on the role of troubadour, and the band invent baroque pop - Lady Jane, taken from their 1966 album AFTERMATH, is by far one of the loveliest tracks the band ever recorded. My favourite story regarding the album doesn’t even feature the Stones, though. It is said that when considering names for their album REVOLVER, released later that year, Ringo suggested calling it AFTER GEOGRAPHY. I’ve always been slightly disappointed that they didn’t run with that one. 

THE EXECUTIVES     MOVING IN A CIRCLE

Deeply psychedelic vibes from Australia’s The Executives, who hid the trippy Moving In A Circle away on the b-side of their 1968 release It’s A Happening World. Although this was a big hit at home, they were never really known outside of Australia - a move to the United States came to nothing, but, back home in Sydney, their polished sound was considered the equivalent of the 5th Dimension, or the The Mamas and The Papas, who seemingly had a big influence on their sound.

THE BEATLES     PENNY LANE


Penny Lane is McCartney’s sunny hallucinogenic yin to the dense experimental yang of Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever on what is possibly the greatest single release of all time. Stylistically the two songs couldn’t be more different, but both display a surreal sense of hallucinatory lyricalism - on Penny Lane it’s both sunny and raining, summer and winter - that suggest the band were very much at home to LSD at this point. Bizarrely, some people don’t like The Beatles, but if Penny Lane, released as a precursor to SGT PEPPERS in 1967 at the height of the Summer of Love, doesn't put a melon-sized grin on your face every time you hear it, then I’m afraid that something has died within you; you might even have worms wriggling and writhing away in the space where your joie de vivre used to be.

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP     AFTER TEA


Another tea reference - there was clearly something in the water in 1968 (apart from tea leaves, I mean). Following Steve Winwood’s departure, the group briefly dabbled in psychedelia, but to no avail. After Tea was the last minor hit for The Spencer Davis Group before they broke up in 1969. Spencer Davis, of course, sadly passed away earlier this year.

 PERMANENT CLEAR LIGHT     PEASANTS AND PEONS

 

Superb baroque-pop loveliness from Finland's top, and for all I know, only psychedelic group, Permanent Clear Light, but what a sound they produce. The shimmering Peasants And Peons is taken from their second album, COSMIC COMICS, released earlier this year, but with one foot firmly embedded in 1968 (whilst the other is busy shuffling around the early 70s Finnish prog-rock scene - about which I know nothing, tbh). Keyboards and mellotrons abound and, all in all, it sits somewhere very nicely between early Pink Floyd and The Dukes of Stratosphear, which should give some indication of just how much I love this album.

JEAN-EMMANUEL DELUXE & FRIENDS     OUVERTURE ROUENLLYWOOD

The absolute far-out and gone trippiest track on this evening’s show comes courtesy of Jean-Emmanuel, probably best known for running the record labels Martyrs du Pop and Euro-Visions as well as the celebrated author of a 2013 book documenting France's yé-yé pop music scene of the 1960s. ROUEN DREAMS, released earlier this year, is almost entirely French-sung project around a loose inner narrative depicting "a kind of trip to Hollywood from a French point of view." Inspired by the pioneer of lo-fi/DIY production R. Stevie Moore and, bizarrely, MOR singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, it’s a hip mix of spoken-word sections and trippy, lush chamber-pop and deeply lysergic passages of ambient psychedelia - and a couple of Gilbert O’Sullivan covers. Weird.

ANTON BARBEAU     COWBOY JOHN MEETS GREENSLEEVES

What to make of this? Cowboy John Meets Greensleeves does exactly what it says on the cover - a surreal singalong that, for some reason, morphs into Greensleeves and entirely works. This is taken from Anton Barbeau’s most recent album, MANBIRD, released earlier this year - kooky and catchy, the whole album is a dreamlike exploration of Barbeau’s subconscious, described by the man himself as a “Jungian travelogue of memories, dreams and reflections”. This, obviously, is a recommendation.

NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS     STAND AND DELIVER


The hypnotically compelling Stand And Deliver is taken from the ON THE BLINK EP, a taster for the upcoming album of the same name from the wonderful Nathan Hall and The Sinister Locals. I understand that Ennio Morricone, dub reggae, JJ Cale and The Beatles will all get a look in so, as you might imagine, I’m positively a-quiver with anticipation.

CAM’S JAMS     PAISLEY CURTAINS (HITS OF SUNSHINE)

 

Cam’s Jams (Cameron Cowles to his mum) has produced an album that is entirely in love with psychedelia in all of its kaleidoscopic manifestations - a psychedelic pop influence runs throughout the ravishing VOL. 1, released last year, but essentially what your getting is something akin the The Strawberry Alarm Clock - groovy, harmonic loveliness that’s gentle on the senses, except for when it needs to rock out. Paisley Curtains (Hits Of Sunshine) captures its vibe precisely - experimental, lysergic and very, very pretty.

KOOBAS     CONSTANTLY CHANGING 


Koobas have the distinction of being the least well-known of Brian Epstein’s post-Beatles charges from the Merseybeat era. Despite some good press and highly visible gigs - they opened for The Who and toured with Hendrix - their singles failed to chart and by the time they came to record their only album they’d already decided to split. With the pressure off they were clearly able to enjoy their time in the studio, including little jokes and skits between the off-kilter psychedelia. Released in 1969, a year after the group had gone their separate ways, the eponymous album was doomed to obscurity. These days, of course, it fetches ridiculous sums on eBay.

 THE FREEBORNE     A NEW SONG FOR ORESTES

The Freeborne were a youthful, prestigiously talented, Boston-based psychedelic band whose success appears to have been hampered by their very youthfulness - they were unable to tour their only album, the marvellously monikered PEAK IMPRESSIONS, released in 1968, due to the fact that three of the band were still high school students. It’s not as though they didn’t have the musical chops - they opened for The Velvet Underground and Love when those bands visited Boston, but somehow, success eluded them. It didn’t help that they were lumped in with the so-called ‘Bosstown Sound’, a faux-musical movement devised to compete with the rather more successful San Francisco Sound - just ask Ultimate Spinach how that worked out - a pity, because the album is great, featuring a highly psychedelic sound that often pre-figures 70s prog, taking in Byrds-like harmonies, pulsating bass, tricksy time signatures, swirling farfisas, baroque pianos, harpsichords, cellos and, in the case of A New Song For Orestes, a cod-poetic spoken outro in the style of The Moody Blues. Well worth checking out, if you’re a fan of this sort of thing, which, clearly, I am. (Orestes, of course, was the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. He is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays and of various myths connected with his madness and purification which retain obscure threads of much older ones – but I expect you already knew that. He probably appreciated a new song after all this time).

CHRISTINA VANTZOU     SNOW WHITE


Christina Vantzou is a composer of ambient chamber music. Her most recent release, MULTI NATURAL, released earlier this year, is an hallucinogenic marvel, abstract and non-linear, coming in and out of focus in an almost quantum fashion, as the sounds appear and dissolve with one’s focus. Snow White shimmers like a dreamworld with its own internal logic. In a show packed with proper songs, I wanted to include something smudged and woozy to get lost in.

KAVUS TORABI     PEACOCK THRONE

A mind-bending track from Kavus Torabi - one of the newer members of what remains of Gong these days - on what amounts to his debut solo album, HIP TO THE JAG, released earlier this year. It’s a cosmic mix of avant-garde space-rock and vintage 60s psychedelia that combines surreal experimentation with hypnotic manipulation. Marvellous.

CONSTANTINE     MY DEAR ALICE


Wyrd-folk loveliness from Constantine, a psychedelic troubadour from Chicago who recommends his music to fans of Mark Fry, Trader Horne and Donovan which, to me, at least, makes his exploratory and transportative missives utterly unmissable. The sitar-soaked My Dear Alice is taken from his acid-drenched IN MEMORY OF A SUMMER’S DAY, released earlier this year, a gorgeous psych-folk masterpiece that’s both evocative and hugely emotive. Absolutely seek this album out.

SKIP BIFFERTY     INSIDE THE SECRET

Highly regarded in the music industry, but shackled to a manager with a reputation for violent methods of negotiation, Skip Bifferty (I’ve never liked the name) should have been so much bigger than they were, but no one wanted to touch them. Their one album, eponymously titled, recorded in 1967, was both whimsical and innovative, featuring cutting-edge psychedelic studio production and some great songs, as evidenced by the slightly menacing Inside The Secret. Unfortunately, their record company held the album back for some 10 months or so, long after any enthusiasm for the project had dispersed, and initial pressings were flawed with sub-standard sound quality, botched graphics and mislabelled mono and stereo editions. The zeitgeist had passed. The band, once the darlings of a London bursting into vivid technicolour have been largely forgotten, but at least some of them evolved into the The Blockheads, which gives you some idea of how very accomplished they were. 

COLORAMA     AND


This swirling slice of kaleidoscopic fancy, And, opens the album CHAOS WONDERLAND, the latest release from Carwyn Ellis. It’s an eclectic mix of multi-coloured psych-pop, cosmic tiki-flavoured psychedelia, soulful balladry, carnival-organ funk and soft-spoken latin rhythms.

WAX MACHINE     TIME


This transcendentally lovely track is taken from the album EARTHSONG OF SILENCE, the debut album from Brighton’s Wax Machine. It’s a kaleidoscopic mix of classic 60s psychedelia, tropicalia, jazz and folk, produced by Kikagaku Moyo’s Go Kurasawa, which should give you a pretty good indication of where this album is coming from and, indeed, where it might take you. Celestial flute playing, wandering guitars and sugary vocals are front and forward, creating a soundspace that’s blissfully cosmic, allowing the mind to float both hither and thither, as the universe expands and collapses like a mossy eiderdown in the Sussex countryside.

THE KINKS     AUTUMN ALMANAC


The Kinks, of course, didn’t really do psychedelia, but with Autumn Almanac they managed to raise the prosaic to the level of enchantment and on this, the stereo mix of their brilliant 1968 single, someone turned the psychedelic button up to at least 8 for the final few seconds of the fade out

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