Wednesday, January 2, 2019

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Hill

THE HILL-Sylvie/The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmers Association (Part II) US Immediate ZS7-5016 1969

















One could easily fill a book of the host of US only 45 pressings by British bands, and among them would be this 1969 Immediate records single by The Hill. Composed of four former members of Chris Farlowe's backing band The Thunderbirds they were: Steve Hammond (guitar), Bruce Waddell (bass), Pete Robinson (keyboards) and Colin Davey (drums). Though not credited on the label, production was handled former Tintern Abbey member Stuart Mackay.

The results are stunning. "Sylvie" is a perfect late 60's pop psych 45 with it's brilliant harmonies, phlanged piano and orchestration (care of Paul Buckmaster, uncredited) that falls somewhere between The Left Banke and Immediate label mate Duncan Browne. Why it was never released in the UK is downright criminal as it's an incredible track!

The flip side, the curiously titled "The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmer's Association (Part II)" is an instrumental powered by some blistering bluesy guitar and Hammond organ.  It's a tad self indulgent unfortunately, like some nondescript background music from a late 60's film.

The Hill went on to make an LP with Chris Farlowe as "Chris Farlowe and The Hill" for Polydor in 1970 titled "From Here To Mama Rosa" (which was released in over half a dozen counties) and two UK singles in the same year also for Polydor ("Put Out The Light"/"Questions" and "Black Sheep Of The Family"/"Fifty Years") in the same year as the album.

"Sylvie" was unearthed for the incredible 2007 4 CD box set "Real Life Permanent Dreams: A Cornucopia of British Psychedelia 1965-1970" (albeit an alternate mix) while the flip has yet to surface anywhere, YouTube included!

Hear "Sylvie":

https://youtu.be/aMHnoriHUVI

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