Friday, December 19, 2008

God Bless Bam Caruso Part One

THE MIRROR-Gingerbread Man/Faster Than Light Phillips 326 878 BF 1968 Germany

In 1984 or 1985 when I'd firmly decided it was OKAY to call myself a mod and still listen to decidedly "un-mod" music like British 60's psychedelia Mick London (of Mod Fun) turned my pal Rudie and I onto the "Rubble" compilation LP series put out by the good folks at the decidedly strangely monikered Bam Caruso records. The series focused on British 60's psychedelia and freakbeat ( a phrase actually coined by one of the labels founding fathers Phil Smee). Rudie and I duly set out to Vintage Vinyl to seek out these LP's. He purchased "The 49 Minute Technicolor Dream" and I snagged "The Psychedelic Snarl". On my choice there was a poppy little ditty called "Faster Than Light", the sole 45 release by a British band called The Mirror. Despite the 1968 recording/release date it was not at all heavy and sounded distinctly out of place for the era. It also transpires it was the flipside to the semi-ludicrously named "Gingerbread Man".

While original U.K. copies have always been quite scarce German pressings (some even in picture sleeves) were not. At least back in the mid 90's anyway and were not terribly hard to come by. One would assume it had some hit potential in Der Fatherland because there is footage of the band on Beat Club lip syncing the A-side and "Beat Club" did not seem to make a habit of featuring no hope acts. Regardless, let's talk about the record. Despite the daft title, "Gingerbread Man" is not a bad song. The lyrics are typical nonsensical nursery rhyme goobledegook without an ounce of lysergic irony ("lemonade streams and chocolate trees and houses made of sugar...") BUT there's these eerie phased/phlanged horns that brings to mind The Rolling Stone's "We Love You" or The End which are so way out. It's like someone dosed Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers or fed magic mushrooms to Amen Corner. It moves along at a really choppy pace and the middle section features those wiggy horns playing various melodic scales (my favorite part). Flip it over and we're back where we began: "Faster Than Light", the B-side. It begins with an amped up jangly riff and throbby bass and then the uptempo vocals kick in. Imagine The Pre-Fab Four's "Last Train To Clarksville" on a handful of leapers, lyrically it sounds like it could be about a bad trip, but is it? There's a phlanged section in the middle when everything speeds up and the drummer goes Keith Moon style apeshit and it's washed back down to it's beginning speed in a whirl of psychedelic mixing board knob twiddling. Brilliant! "Gingerbread Man" has yet to surface on a legit compilation, but "Faster Than Light" is available in all it's glory on "Rubble One:The Psychedelic Snarl" (don't let the title scare you, go ahead..taste it) or as part of the wonderful box set "The Rubble Collection:Volumes 1-10".

Watch "Gingerbread Man" on German TV's "Beat Club" 1968

Hear "Faster Than Light":


ilovemyankh said...

Do you happen to know any of the band members names of The Mirror?

Unknown said...

Lead Singer is Chris Warnet - CEO Rotork USA 2010) ... Bass Player - Mike Stewart - VAT officer UK.....Drummer - Nick Bigsby - TV Producer UK.....Rythym Guitar - Bob Pierce - Owner Bunker Studio Bristol UK.....Some are now retired and some on FACEBOOK (2015) ...Posted by Bill Williams Timsbury UK (Sound recordist Bath 1968)

William said...

MANY thanks Bill!!