Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: Mike Vickers (The Baker Street Philharmonic)

THE BAKER STREET PHILHARMONIC-Love At First Sight/Tycho U.S. World Pacific 77928 1969

Multi instrumentalist and one time Manfred Mann member Mike Vickers was a jack of all trades in the 60's (and to this day too I'm sure).  A musical genius as well as an amazing producer and arranger , he was never out of sight in the 1960's releasing a string of amazing 45's as The Mike Vickers Orchestra we explored his dynamic solo debut LP awhile back here.

I'd not heard of this single till once again my friend and fellow blogger Larry Grogan (of Funky 16 Corners and Iron Leg fame) stumbled upon this while crate digging.  No doubt a studio concoction by Vickers, the A-side is an instrumental version of the famous Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin hit "Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus". The number was simultaneously covered hot on it's heels by Vickers here with The Baker Street Philharmonic as well as Sounds Nice featuring Tim Mycroft in August '69 (who in my book cut the best version utilizing a nice dreamy Hammond) and a bit later in a groovy/funky reggae version by Justin Hinds being backed by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. I've never been a fan of the original (or Gainsbourg or Jane B for that matter) but the tune itself  but this version sticks to the Hammond instrumental idea but embellished by a slight choral backing and lush strings making it far more "easy listening" than the Sounds Nice version (if that's at all possible?!).  The real catch of this 45 is it's flip, a Vickers original called "Tycho".  Led by a positively hypnotic melodic organ riff and backed by celestial sweeping strings it has a regal air about it like something straight out of a post Swinging London film like "The Killing Of Sister George" or "Goodbye Gemini".  The bridge is amazing and uplifting!

Mike Vickers: genius at work.

I can't tell if either track has been reissued but copies of the single are quite easy to find and not at all pricey either!

Hear "Love at First Sight":


Hear "Tycho":


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