Friday, May 6, 2011

U.S. Only U.K. Pop Sike Pressings Part I

THE FRUIT MACHINE-The Wall/Willow Tree U.S. American Music Makers AMM-0021 1969

Here's one of those weird instances where a mondo obscure U.K. 60's band has a U.S. only release on a mondo obscuro label (the only other artist I can recall on American Music Makers was a 45 by the Grains of Sand).  Today's specimen is a by a band who released two ho-hum singles in the U.K. that both had killer flip sides.  The first was a February 1968 cover of Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy" b/w the stunning freakbeat/heavy opus "Follow Me" (Spark SRL 1003) and the second was April 1969's equally brilliant and blistering "I'm Alone Today" b/w a mediocre version of "Sunshine Of Your Love" (Spark SRL 1027).

For some unknown reason neither side of our release in question was issued in the U.K. or Europe. Both sides do not bear much similarity to the heavy sounding band responsible for "Follow Me" or "I'm Alone Today" (both reissued on the highly recommended Strange Things Are Happening "Circus Days Vol. 2" comp).  That's not to say they're not good they just bear a different slant.  "The Wall" is a mournful pop psych number accented by some orchestration and some muted horns and woodwinds that have a strange effect that makes them sound like they're being played on an old 78 rpm record player.  It's full of great effects (flashing cymbals, regal trumpet, soulful vocals reminiscent of The Apple and a swirl of organ).  It was penned by the band's Spark label mates and pop-sike tunesmiths John Carter and Russ Alquist, famous for a great deal of song composing (like The Californian's psych monster "The Cooks Of Cakes And Kindness" or Friend's "Mythological Sunday") and a one off zany pop sike 45 of their own ("The Laughing Man" Spark SRL 1017, 1968 ).  The flipside "Willow Tree" is in a similar down trodden pop psych vein as The Parking Lot's "World Spinning Sadly" or Feluis Andromeda's "Meditation") and more trippy than the "A" side as it's a bit darker, more of a "comedown" than a full fledged "peak" as far as trip fest records go.

"The Wall" was issued on "Rubble 18: Rainbow Thyme Wynders" (and also on the "Rubble Box Volumes 11-20") while "Willow Tree" was on "Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks Vol. 4" and Tenth Planet's Spark label compilation "The Electric Lemonade Acid Test Vol. 1".

Hear "The Wall":

And for comparison hear their other releases:

"I'm Alone Today":

"Follow Me":

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