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PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about obscure and in-demand ’60s garage and psychedelic singles over the years. All of the original blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from teen music magazines.

KEN SMART – ”The Company I Keep” / ”On A Day Like Today” (Vogue DV 14679) January 1968 

This is one of those one off records that would have been more or less ignored back when they were released. In a perfect world Ken Smart’s ”The Company I Keep” would have been bought by millions worldwide and Ken would have been rejoiced as the next talented psychedelic minstrel. Sadly, nothing became of this record or Ken Smart who is extremely neglected online to the extent that he’s almost oblivious. 

”The Company I Keep” is a joyful orchestrated pop psych ballad, beautifully sung and enriched with resplendent harmonies and a melody that is impossible to ignore. The other side ”On A Day Like Today” is also quite wistful but not in the same league as the top side. The record was released in Britain on Domain Records but Ken’s name was switched to Brindley D. Spender. It appears that the latter is his real name. Production by Miki Dallon.

(28/08/20)

THE NORTH STARS – ”For My True Love” / ”Nothing But The Best” (Fontana TF 581) June 1965

Back in 2014 I wrote about The North Stars’ second and last record ”She’s So Far Out She’s In” released during July 1966. Recently, I found this rare picture of The North Stars in a vintage Music Echo so decided to create a YouTube video for their first single ”For My True Love.”

I’m a sucker for British Beat music and this number is an easy paced beat ballad reminiscent of records by The Merseybeats, Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, The Fourmost etc.

The other side ”Nothing But The Best” is not up to the same standards and is something of a novelty song to my ears. Both sides of the disc written by David Parkin.

(19/07/20)

VELVETT FOGG – ”Lady Caroline” (Pye NSPL.18272) 1969

Velvett Fogg are thee latest ”Hyghe Knyghtes” offering with their stupendous psychedelic murderous ballad ”Lady Caroline.” It’s all about Maidens, Castles, Jealousy, Murder and ultimately Lady Caroline’s Execution. A Medieval lament from a late 60s group wearing lipstick and paint.

Check it out for your way-0ut excursion to England in 1066 or something like that.

(17/03/18)

MARK FRY – ”The Witch” (IT ZSLT 70006) 1972

If psychedelic folk reverie is your bag have a listen to Mark Fry’s dark epic ”The Witch” from 1972. Man this is way-out and lasts for just under seven minutes so my suggestion is to spark up one of your favourite jazz cigarettes or do like me and have a cup of Earl Grey and a Cinnamon bagel. Then lose yourself in it’s sheer splendour.

The YT upload below uses footage from a TV kids show called ”Pogles’ Wood” which had an evil Witch. It ran from 1965-68 and has never been repeated since the early 1970s cos the Witch freaked out the kids…..This is just too much and it’s now official… ”Hyghe Knyghte” status granted to Lord Fry.

(17/03/18)

KEVIN AYERS – ”Girl On A Swing” (Harvest SHVL 763) November 1969

Arise, Sir Kevin Ayers…ex Soft Machine and creator of this wonderful album ”Joy Of A Toy” released in late 1969. The tracks were recorded at Abbey Road studios during the Summer of that year with assistance from Robert Wyatt, David Bedford and Hugh Hopper.

”Hyghe Knyghte” status attained with his whimsical, evocative and completely English sounding numbers ”Girl On A Swing” and ”The Lady Rachel”

Kevin died in 2013.

(13/03/18)

LEMON TREE – ”William Chalker’s Time Machine” / ”I Can Touch A Rainbow” (Parlophone R 5671) March 1968

Today’s 45 of choice is this psychedelic pop charmer by Lemon Tree which one could easily mistake for a Move record such is the resemblance of their sound. On closer inspection ”William Chalker’s Time Machine” was written by Ace Kefford and co-produced by fellow Move man Trevor Burton. Lemon Tree were also from Birmingham, just like The Move.

(22/02/18)

WORLD OF OZ – ”King Croesus” / ”Jack” (Deram DM-205) August 1968

This single was the World Of Oz follow up to the well received ”Muffin Man” but sadly this one went no where fast. ”King Croesus” is a much stronger disc though and has the typical English ’68 sound with heavy orchestration, hammond organ, strong bass notes and slightly treated vocals, at least that’s how they sound to me.

The disc was worked on by Manfred Mann guitarist Mike Vickers and enhanced by in house Deram producer Wayne Bickerton who is perhaps best remembered for his work with King Crimson.

This is my Dutch copy which came housed in a picture sleeve.

(17/02/18)

GORDON WALLER – “Rosecrans Blvd” / ”Red, Cream And Velvet” (Columbia DB 8337) January 1968

This is a lovely Jim Webb song that Fifth Dimension did on their LP and Johnny Rivers did so well and that was one of my favourite songs last year. A plaintive doomy little song about a man who keeps returning to the scene of an old love affair, this is Gordon’s first solo effort and his voice sounds very good indeed. I am a little worried about the arrangement, which sounds uncomfortable and speeds up worryingly in parts, it tries to be a bit too clever, I fear. 

I fear I’m too familiar with the song to really be able to judge his chances commercially. I just wish the splendid Mr Waller good luck.

(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo, January 1968)

UK Chart Position: None

(10/02/18)

CONSORTIUM – ”Melanie Cries Alone” / ”Copper Coloured Years” (Trend TNT 52) January 1970

This record caught me by surprise because I don’t normally venture into the year 1970 here on my website. West Coast Consortium were a vocal harmony group from England who mixed Association and Beach Boys sounds into their original mix of late sixties pop.

They were one of those groups who released interesting and polished pop singles but sadly none of them ever seemed to click to take them to the next level. Common with several groups back in the sixties they chipped away at their name and began releasing records as simply Consortium.

Hidden away on the B-Side of ”Melanie Cries Alone” is the pleasant, slickly produced and arranged ”Copper Coloured Years” which in my opinion may have stood a chance at cracking the Charts.

Nothing happened of course and this outstanding flip was probably only heard by the fortunate few.

UK Chart Position: None

(01/02/18)

THE HERD – ”So Much In Love” / ”This Boy’s Always Been True” (Parlophone R 5413) February 1966

Try finding a copy of this Herd Parlophone rarity from 1966, before they signed to the Fontana label. May even have been before Peter Frampton joined. The top side ”So Much In Love” is a recording of a Jagger / Richard song and had chart potential but didn’t click in the Charts.

”This Boy’s Always Been True” seems to have been inspired by The Who, similar guitar sound, pounding bass and Moon like drums. Shame that the vocals are not as strident as say Marriott’s or Don Fardon’s because this mod beater could have been a freakbeat monster. Still good though.

(21/01/18)

SIMON DUPREE & the BIG SOUND – ”Without Reservations” (Parlophone PCS 7029) May 1967

Between them, they don’t dig racial prejudice…potatoes…namedroppers…early rising and crowded beaches, but on the other hand, they comprise half a dozen minds with but a single passion in life…namely, MUSIC!!

As a matter of fact, I remember very well a late night in 1966 when I was invited to a dinner in the Royal Borough of Kensington, London W.8. to take in a little chicken, asparagus and potatoes, followed by strawberries and cream, and as it happens, it was a night when having drunk the coffee, one toyed with the idea of ….”and where do we go from here?”

But let me go back a little beyond that night because I remember hearing a crop of the week’s new releases that didn’t seem to have any special quality to ignite the imagination until I came across a Parlophone labelled single entitled ”I See The Light.” I played it three or four times on the trot and decided that someone just might be into something good – particularly the ones known as Simon Dupree & the Big Sound!!!

I hadn’t heard them before this single hit the scene, but I was so convinced of their ”Top Twenty” potential I poured passion into the microphone telling one and all that it was only a matter of time before they’d have the pop record buying public at their feet.

I must have enthused a little because I remember being asked ”Have you gone into the Agency Business?” Well, to get back to the post coffee period, we were told exactly ”where we went from there”…straight to the middle of the dance floor and lured by the exhilarating beat of Simon Dupree!!!

Not a soul remained seated, and as I shook by the group, I shouted to the fellas… ”Top ten in four weeks from now!”

But strange is the pattern of success in pop dictated by the frantic fans who supply it’s lifeline….The fellas didn’t see much of the light…then they followed up with ”Reservations.” As I scribble these cover notes by invitation (I’d have made application for the job without invite anyway) Simon & Co have another single out called ”Day Time, Night Time”. With the same initial belief in their ability I won’t revert to the superstition bit of ’third time lucky’ but those three tracks alone make this a part of any fan’s supply. Get a load of ”Teacher, Teacher”…”Get Off My Bach” and then some!

The boys have also included some of their popular Club numbers such as ”Amen” …”What Is Soul” and ”Love”. Someone will see the light sooner or later, and if you don’t mind…sooner! Huh?
(back cover notes: Alan Freeman)

(07/10/17)

STATUS QUO – ”Messages From The Status Quo” (Cadet Concept LPS 315) 1968

Now we’re talking, the first album from Status Quo, early 1968 release. Before they went hard rock/boogie….top shelf psychedelic pop music here my dear acid brethren.

This is from a batch of black gold I bought last week, £20 for a hardly played disc by the look of it….bargain. American pressing on Cadet Concept.

(03/10/17)

THE ZOMBIES – ”Zombies” EP (Decca DFE 8598) January 1965

The Zombies all came from the St Albans, Hertfordshire, area where they began their career playing local clubs and at school dances. The founder members of the group were organist Rod Argent, drummer Hugh Grundy and lead guitarist Paul Atkinson. They were joined by bass guitarist Chris White and vocalist/guitarist Colin Blunstone.

For a time they were only moderately successful, but a break-up was averted by their winning a beat competition sponsored by the Evening News. Riding on their first wave of success, they recorded ”She’s Not There”, penned by Rod Argent and took it high in the charts. Now they are in great demand for TV and stage appearances, one-night stands, ballroom and club dates.

(01/10/17)

Back in the early to mid 1990s Record Collector magazine published a monthly feature on 60s UK psychedelia titled ”The British Psychedelic Trip.” It was an in depth A to Z of all the groups who recorded mind expansion and fuzz fuelled pop.

Some very obscure groups were featured including The Societie who hailed from Glasgow and were talent spotted by The Hollies during one of their tours of Scotland. Allan Clarke was so impressed by this late teens outfit that he encouraged them to travel to London for some recordings which became their one and only single on Deram, released during November 1967.

Allan Clarke produced the disc and it’s perhaps no surprise that ”Bird Has Flown” has Hollies similarities, especially the lead vocals but the harmonies are very much Holliesesque. The B-Side ”Breaking Down” is in a mod soul direction and I really dig this one too.

Both sides were compiled on the late 80s Decal release ”Deram Dayze”

(03/09/17)

Felius Andromeda released only one single during their brief lifespan and it’s become one of the most desirable discs to obtain for UK Psych collectors, trouble being of course that obscure psychedelic releases in 1967 are virtually impossible to find.

Fortunately Bam Caruso compiled both sides ”Meditations” / ”Cheadle Health Delusions” on their ’Rubble 11’ sub-titled ”Adventures In The Mist.”

”Meditations” has since appeared elsewhere but the flip ”Cheadle Health Delusions” hasn’t had the same treatment and has become just a passing footnote.

I have an extensive 1960s magazine and music weeklies archive and recently found this small Felius Andromeda article in Record Mirror – November 1967. Despite the publicity given to ”Meditations” the record wasn’t a hit and no more releases ensued.

(02/09/17)

PETER FENTON – ”I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet” / ”Walking In Circles” (Fontana TF 789) February 1967

Here’s one of those strange novelty records recorded by an artist that I have no information about.

Whoever Peter Fenton was it’s clear that he ramped up the posh upper-class English accent in glorious style. The music itself is totally Victoriana Music Hall, a sound that several of the English beat groups were experimenting with at the time.

”I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet” was probably an attempt to ’cash-in’ on the popularity of second hand clothing boutique on Portobello Road, London famed in the sixties for selling antique military uniforms as fashion items.

File this record beside The Purple Gang ”Granny Takes A Trip” and The Kinks ”Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” which of course had similar themes and were pure swinging sixties.

(14/08/17)

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY – ”Got To Get Away” / ”Time Wastin’” (MCA MU-1025) June 1968

A rather bizarre name for a group who were probably based in London during the late sixties but whose members were from the West Yorkshire region. Terry Stokes and Dave Bower were in mid sixties beat group The Cherokees but it appears that they formed this new outfit when the latter had run it’s course, adding Brian Morris and Topper Clay.

After years off looking for a copy I finally found one!!!
1968 psych-tinged rock with chiming guitars, a loud bass mix and pure pop harmonies. Killer…but like most of the really good underground sounds this one sank without a trace.

UK Chart Position: None

(05/08/17)

THE JET SET – ”You Got Me Hooked” / ”True To You” (Capitol 5358) April 1965

This obscure beat record from The Jet Set is where it’s at. Released on Parlophone in Britain during November 1964. Hardly ever shows up though. Much easier and cheaper to track down the American Capitol disc which was released some months later in the Spring of 1965.

(27/07/17)

FREDDIE STARR & the MIDNIGHTERS – ”Who Told You” / ”Peter Gunn Locomotion” (Decca F.11663) May 1963

Freddie Starr is now better known in Britain as a comedian but back in the merseybeat days he led a group called The Midnighters. ”Peter Gunn Locomotion” is their hard driving beat number…
Joe Meek production, Lord Sutch-like screams, 1963 toughness.

(23/07/17)

THE FOUNDATIONS – ”Build Me Up Buttercup” / ”New Direction” (Pye 7N.17636) November 1968

On the flip side of The Foundations big hit ”Build Me Up Buttercup” is this pounding psychedelic soul number. Starts with a kind of Star Trek organ sound, builds into a Swinging London spy thriller tune, then goes all heavy. Loads of brass, organ and bad trip lyrics

”Colours swirling, emotions whirling, my mind is upside down.”

Get with their ”New Direction.”

UK Chart Position: #2

(21/07/17)

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY – ”Love Me Two Times” / ”Which Way To Go” (MU 1045) October 1968

A rather bizarre name for a group who were probably based in London during the late sixties but whose members were from the West Yorkshire region. Terry Stokes and Dave Bower were in mid sixties beat group The Cherokees but it appears that they formed this new outfit when the latter had run it’s course, adding Brian Morris and Topper Clay.

 ”Love Me Two Times” is a memorable cover of the Doors classics, the other side written by Morris is a worthy blues rocker. A collection of New York Public Library recordings is long overdue, perhaps even throw in their beat period as The Cherokees to create a fuller package.

UK Chart Position: None

as per Alphabeat Annual 1969:
Brian and Topper joined Terry and Dave of New York Public Library in November 1967. They had met while playing in different groups in Germany, found they had the same ideas and feelings about music and remained in close contact. It was only a matter of time before they were able to get together.

It took a few months to find the number they felt was right for them to record. They also played regularly at Universities, Colleges and London clubs such as The Speakeasy, Sybilla’s and Blaises.

(20/07/17)

UNIT FOUR plus TWO – ”You’ve Got To Be Cruel To Be Kind” / ”I Won’t Let You Down” (Decca F.12299) December 1965

ACE 1965 guitar jangle / Beach Boys sounding number, love the rattling drums and guitar break on this. Shame it was hidden away on the B-Side of a poor selling record. ”I Won’t Let You Down” is a winner though, grab it if you can.

UK Chart Position: None

(18/07/17)

FORCE WEST – ”All The Children Sleep” / ”Desolation” (Columbia DB 8174) April 1967

This Bristol based group released several singles during the 1960s on various labels including Decca, Columbia and CBS but somehow failed to achieve any success beyond their home areas.

Despite this lack of Chart entries they’re certainly an outfit that deserves attention and hopefully I’ll add more of their discs to my collection in the future.

The A-Side ”All The Children Play” is a cheeky re-write of Los Brincos 1966 Spanish hit ”Mejor.”

It’s worth hearing though but I wonder just what would have happened with regards to infringement laws if it was a hit record for Force West.

So I’ll move swiftly on to the flip ”Desolation” which is a terrific folk jangler with an up-tempo beat, great drums, clattering tambourine throughout and harmonies. Force West were good enough to merge the best parts of The Searchers with The Hollies to make their marvellous ”Desolation”. Such a shame it was hidden on the B-Side of a record that probably sold in small quantity.

(24/06/17)

FORCE WEST – ”I’ll Walk In The Rain” / ”What’s It To Be” (CBS 3632) August 1968

This Bristol based group released several singles during the 1960s on various labels including Decca, Columbia and CBS but somehow failed to achieve any success beyond their home areas. Despite this lack of Chart entries they’re certainly an outfit that deserves attention and hopefully I’ll add more of their discs to my collection in the future.

”I’ll Walk In The Rain” has a huge sound, like a combination of The Bee Gees with The Flowerpot Men. It’s lovely orchestrated pop with sort of West Coast style harmonies. An ideal sound for the radio back in the Summer of 1968 but it didn’t click and become successful. I’ve created a YouTube video and it’s the first time it’s been uploaded!

Force West had a one-off CBS single calling themselves The Oscar Bicycle. By the end of the 60s they were known as The Shakane.

(17/06/17)

WARM SOUNDS – ”Sticks And Stones” / ”Angeline” (Columbia CF 114) August 1967

Warm Sounds created a lot of attention with ”Birds And The Bees” and they’ll certainly do the same with this one, though I can’t really decide whether I like it or whether it’s really the stuff hits are made of.

An oddly un-orchestrated piece of work with an insane lyric based on the ’sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt me’ theory. I remember we used to put out our tongues and waggle our fingers on our heads when we said it….charming children… I don’t know whether Warm Sounds do or not.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – 29/07/67)

So what about the flip ”Angeline” – well it’s a well constructed and simple pop song with dual vocals and lots of tambourine. A very decent B-Side but because it plays for almost four minutes was probably not considered single length material for ’67.

In Britain the single was released on the Immediate label and can be found on the CD compilation ”The Immediate Alternative”

UK Chart Position: None 

(10/06/17)

THE TREMELOES – ”Even The Bad Times Are Good” / ”Jenny’s Alright” (CBS 2930) August 1967

One thing you could never accuse the Tremeloes of is being complicated. This, then, is another saga of simplicity and drum thumping much in the vein of ”Here Comes My Baby.”

For one moment at the beginning when everyone broke into extraordinary cackling I had doubts and wondered if the Tremeloes were about to freak out. But ah, no, here we go, lads….thump, bang, crash, wallop. It moves along though, and you have to admit it’s very persistent and will doubtless be a hit.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – 29/07/67)

UK ChartPosition: 4 

(10/06/17)

THE FLOWERPOT MEN – ”Let’s Go To San Fransisco” Parts 1 & 2 (Deram 17.003) August 1967

Records are getting more and more complicated. This Flowerpot Men is a fine example, apart from being a sort of National Anthem for the Flower-children. It covers both sides of the single and is really about everyone going to SF because that’s where it’s beautiful and sunny and flowering.

The song, split into two separate movements – a very slow part where they actually GET there that starts the second side, and a faster beginning and end – was written by Ken Lewis and Perry Ford. It’s very hard to judge it’s chart chances even though it has a very nice tune, but it should do very well in America.
(Penny Valentine review – Disc & Music Echo – 29/07/67)

UK Chart Position: 4 

(10/06/17)

THE WRANGLERS – ”Liza Jane” / ”It Just Won’t Work” (Parlophone R 5163) July 1964

”Liza Jane” is a fabulous hard drivin’ 1964 rattlesnake beat shaker that deserved to do well in the charts but somehow failed to crack open the door of success. They were from the south London area and had a big following but still this record didn’t take off in the same way that singles from The Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones did.

For their second single ”The Tracker” / ”You Gotta Give” released on Pye they were known as Kenny Bernard and the Wranglers.

UK Chart Position: None

(07/06/17)

THE TRANSATLANTICS – ”Many Things From Your Window” / ”I Tried To Forget” (Fontana TF 593) July 1965

The Transatlantics were one of those British beat groups who released several singles during their short life span but none clicked with the record buying public despite having some interesting sides. This disc was their debut release in the Summer of 1965.

The top side ”Many Things From Your Window” is pleasant enough Searchers inspired beat pop without much of a lasting impression. Turn it over for the very moody ”I Tried To Forget” which is a sound a lot of teen garage combos from the USA seemed to be attracted to. By the way, the first three singles by The Transatlantics were released in America on the Jubilee label. They’re a group I hope to find out more about in the future.

UK Chart Position: None

(07/06/17)

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