I’M A FREAK BABY – A JOURNEY THROUGH THE BRITISH HEAVY PSYCH & HARD ROCK UNDERGROUND SCENE 1968-1972 (3CD SET) …featuring FACTORY & THE KULT…! Snappy title! the ‘featuring’ is my own addition, I think the main title is long enough! So, here we have a glorious trawl through 3 cds (48 tracks) of the some mainstream but mostly lost and obscure bands that flourished briefly but sometimes brilliantly in those heady four years. Most compilations of this period concentrate on the baroque twee ‘psyche’ vibe ‘Elephants in Bubble Gum Trees’ and suchlike whimsical lyrics. I’m A Freak does what it says on the tin and goes with the hard edged rock that was splitting away from ‘pop’. So lets deal with the elephant(s) in the room and two tracks of great interest to Smarties! Disc 1 track 9 sandwiched between The Pink Fairies and The Groundhogs (a good place to be!) is the first official cd debut for our very own Factory and ‘Time Machine’ and sounding fresh as a remastered daisy. Now you who didn’t get one of the 99 vinyl copies originally pressed can add it to your collection! If that wasn’t enough Disc 3 track 14 and hailing from about half a mile from where I’m writing this is Bexhills very own The Kult ‘Occult’ again first time on CD. Brilliant for all of us with long memories! Of the 46 other tracks as aforementioned there are some ‘names’ Deep Purple, Chicken Shack. The Move, Yardbirds, Uriah Heep to name but 5 (and not the usually compiled tracks) but its in the obscure that some real delights spring forth such as Cycle, Stonehouse, Barnabus, Sam Gopal, names that jog dim memories for this reviewer who was always into the more esoteric!
I must also mention two bands who I worked with the excellent, and at the time highly controversial, Third World War with ‘Ascension Day’ and The Gun with ‘Race With The Devil’ a record ahead of its time for 1968, The Gun were Adrian and Paul Gurvitz, two great guys who had relationships with Ruperts People. Like the famed and never bettered ‘Nuggets’ psychedelic 3CD compilation I’m A Freak has set the standard for mining the vaults and putting together an outstanding compilation of proto power trio’s, rock experimental pioneers, the avant garde, and the really out there! I take my hat off to the compiler David Wells, a first class job. The accompanying 36 page fully annotated booklet has good potted biogs and photos of the bands featured, (Tony & Jaffa love the hats!) I’m A Freak is released this Friday (29th July 2016).
CONCRETE & CLAY-THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS – Unit 4+2 (2CD) Also for the first time on CD this collection gathers together the entire recordings from 1964-1969 remastered with detailed sleeve notes. There has been mention recently of U4+2 on the Smart website so this is a timely release! Space negates a full history of the band members (the sleeve notes are admirable). I confess I didn’t know one member morphed into Whistling Jack Smith with the er..dreaded ‘I Was Kaiser’s Bill’s Batman’ anyway that aside..i did know that one of the ‘plus 2’ was Russ Ballard. I guess the band are synonomous with the million selling ‘Concrete & Clay’ and are no doubt remembered chiefly for that which hit the top spot in April 1965 (knocking off The Stones). Many TV appearances followed on the likes of ‘Ready Steady Go!’ and ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. They were not just a one hit wonder though, the follow up ‘You’ve Never Been In Love Like This Before’ released a coupla months later made a respectable No. 14. Two minor hits followed You’ve Got To Be Cruel To Be Kind’ and ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’., which was a re-tread musically of C & C. Chart wise that was it for the band. However they remained a very popular and busy live draw. This 2 CD set is split between their time with firstly Decca and their subsequent 1967 move to Philips offshoot Fontana. Up to C & C and indeed after til their move to Fontana their material was lightweight pop/harmony, a mix of original material and as was the custom of the times ‘covers’ of songs like ‘La Bamba’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin Feelin’ ‘The Girl From New York City’ etc. Their original material fares better if a tad forgettable at times(apart from the aforementioned hits).
However the switch to Fontana and a desire to ‘update’ themselves produced some little gems as they stretched themselves and embraced ‘the summer of love’. ‘Butterfly’ is a good example (I remember Marmalade also recording this Brothers Gibb track). A foray into Dylan ‘You Aint Going Nowhere’ comes off well. Self penned numbers ‘I Was Only Playing Games’ and I’ve Seen The Light’ show a new confidence, even if the latter sounds like they nicked the opening chords from The Troggs’ Give It To Me’ (or maybe that’s just in my head!). The penultimate track ‘The World of Broken Hearts’ (a favourite track of mine in Amen Corner’s version) works well, albeit less gritty. So to sum up, if you favour pop/harmony and a dash of mild psyche you will find much to enjoy here. Released this Friday (29th July 2016)
For more information, full tracklists etc go to http://www.cherryred.co.uk
Andy Qunta… Thanks, Colin! I think I might get myself a copy of this! Lotsa good stuff! 😉