Monday, May 9, 2016

10 Cool U.K. 60's Pop Psych Songs That You Possibly Haven't Heard

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1. SLEEPY-"Loves Immortal Fire" U.K. CBS 3592 1968
Beneath a trippy mix of mellow flute and subtle organ comes this monster track sung by a lead singer who's either a.) bored b.) massively stoned c.) impeccably cool or d.) all of the above. It sounds like it belongs in some mid/late 60's British Swinging London film scene where all the pseudo intellectuals are laying around in some posh flat in Belgravia stoned out of the minds talking crap.  Like nothing else I've heard so there's nothing to compare it to.

2. THE MARIANNE-"You Know My Name" U.K. Columbia DB 8420 1968
Imagine a psyched out British answer to The Fifth Dimension and that would be The Marianne. This Mike Vickers produced number is more sunshine/harmony pop than psych but there are enough hooks to this to make it psychedelic in my book (dig that mournful cello at the very end). Sadly it's been considered "Northern" by some wags so it's now impossible to find.

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3. FREEDOM-"Where Will You Be Tonight" U.K. Mercury MF 1033 1968
Freedom were formed by ex-Procol Harum members Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison in early 1968. Following the formula laid out by their previous band  (at least on this, their debut 45) Freedom weave a slow pop tune interspersed with classical piano, swatches of Mellotron and bluesy guitar licks beneath of laid back lead vocal.

4. WAYNE FONTANA-"Waiting For A Break In The Clouds" U.K. Fontana TF 976 1968
Poor Wayne Fontana.  He ditched The Mindbenders (who went on to make some amazing music) and suffered a career with one huge hit and a load of mediocre tracks. There were one or two exceptions though and this was one of them, the flipside of "Never An Everyday Thing". Orchestrated by Mike Vickers it's got loads of hooks, from Fonatana's soulful vocals, the muted/sped up trumpets, Hammond, slashing guitars and lots of poppy "doo de doo's".

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5. LEGAY-"The Fantastic Story Of The Steam Driven Banana" U.K. Fontana TF 904 1968
On the flip of the somber "No One" comes this storming pop psych ditty about a, well, steam driven banana by Legay, who as legend had it were victims of a mishap at the pressing plant that resulted in their 45 being titled Legay (which has since been disproved). The lyrics are pretty kinky if you pay attention and it's delivered in a rapid fire in a bit of up tempo pop with some funky almost Northern soul sounding piano chords.

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6. MUD-"Flower Power" U.K. CBS 203002 1967
The debut 45 by dreaded bubble gum glammers Mud was this 1967 sunshine pop psych anthem of sorts. The message is of course total jump on the peace and love band wagon/love your brother bullshit but it's put forth in such a great way it's easy to ignore the trite message though eventfully the lyrics are cynical ("all the time you love your neighbor to keep with the trend").  Musically it has great West Coast style harmonies with some hooks that remind me of The Move.  And the chorus is pretty infectious.

7. ONE IN A MILLION-"Double Sight" U.K. MGM 1370 1967
One In A Million made just two singles, both of which are brilliant.  This was their last, the flip of the stunningly lysergic "Fredereek Hernando". "Double Sight" would've been a mod/freakbeat track with it's angst ("I hate my eyes for lookin' at ya..."), soulful '66 discotheque feel and cowbell if the guitars weren't phased and flanged (and the vocals too) but then it all goes down the rabbit hole with some crazy backwards guitars indicating you can never go back to the Flamingo again...

8. JON-"Is It Love?" U.K. Columbia DB 8249 1967
A mild and mellow track featuring a few of Lulu's ex-Luuvers this number is driven by short bursts of high harmonies in tandem with a meaty riff with glockenspiel and tack piano giving it a dreamy/childlike feel. There's some cool effects on the lead vocals halfway through if you pay close attention.

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9. RIFKIN-"Continental Hesitation" U.K. Page One POF 071 1968
One of my faves (and also one of the most expensive of this lot), "Continental Hesitation" takes a great piss on the whole meditation/Eastern philosophy fad.  The lyrics are all about finding "religion's answer to the Charles Atlas muscle course" by mailing in clipped box tops of Indian tea and 9 pounds 7/3 to a fly by night guru who will provide the secret to eternal happiness delivered behind a tough mod/freakbeat backing.

Winner of the longest band name ever known, as Mike Stax once mused way back in "Ugly Things" maybe they were known to punters as The Wallys? Hats off to the late Greg Shaw for bringing this to the well deserved attention of the world via one of his "Electric Sugarcube Flashback" LP's.  "Sorry Mr. Green" is a great social commentary starring the lecherous Mr. Green who gropes his way through the temp agency secretarial pool until Mrs. Green gets a job with them.....all delivered with a musical backing akin to the first two Pink Floyd singles.

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