Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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

THE SYN-Created By Clive/Grounded U.S. Deram DEM 7510 1967

The passing of Chris Squire this week, bassist for The Syn sent me back to listening to their limited (but brilliant output): two singles total. This was their debut U.K. single (Deram DM 130) which was released in June of 1967.  It's U.S. release came the following month.  Deram U.S.A would not issue it's follow up ("Flowerman"/"14 Hour Technicolour Dream" Deram DM 145).

The Syn at this juncture were: Steve Nardelli (lead vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Andrew Jackman (keyboards), Chris Squire (bass) and Gunnar Hakonarson (drums). The band had been treading the boards at various London clubs (with no less 36 than Marquee appearances) since 1965 in various incarnations. Taking inspiration from their heroes and fellow Marquee regulars The Action, The Syn were predominately a soul covers band with occasional group originals interspersed (among them was was Steve Nardelli's "Grounded" which appeared in their repertoire in late '65).  Signed by the up and coming Decca records offshoot Deram (the band by this time were headlining at the Marquee on a regular Saturday night residency) they were sent to the studio by producer Kenny Bell (who secured them their record deal) and unhappily saddled with this single's "A" side "Created By Clive". The band refused to play the track live and fought tooth and nail to have "Grounded" topside but it was not to be. Oddly The Attack released a version on Decca on the VERY SAME DAY (June 23, 1967).  You can read about that less than brilliant idea here.

Lead singer Steve Nardelli 1967

Regardless of the band's opinion of  "Created By Clive" ("Created By Idiots" was how it was referred to by one member in an interview)  it's an archetype mid 60's Swinging London curio that tells the tale of a boy who loses his normal girl when she's swept off to become a high end model and fashion plate. The band's Action influences are clear in the jangly guitar and high backing vocals and Nardelli's posh piss take vocal detachment is excellent for someone who had little enthusiasm for the track.

Peter Banks with flower power Rickenbacker  1967

On the flip side, "Grounded" is of course their best track in my estimation.  From it's dejected/snide and equally soulful vocals, it's groovy Farfisa organ, thundering drums, high Action style vocals cooing the infectious "oo oo ooooo" chorus and almost jazzy Rickenbacker licks (with mod/pop art flourishes with some toggle switch action after the first chorus) it's nothing short of a masterpiece. It's no wonder it's appeared on no less than half a dozen compilation LP and CD's these past 3 decades. My first taste came via Line records indispensable "Broken Dreams" LP series on "Volume 1" 30 years ago!

The Syn

In addition to an American release the single was also issued in the Netherlands and New Zealand on Deram as well. The band would go on to cut one more 45 for Deram four months later which you can read about here.

Both sides were issued on the (slim) "Original Syn" box set. "Grounded" as been released in a multitude of places Deram/Decca's "The Freakbeat Scene" and Bam Caruso's "Rubble 14: The Magic Rocking Horse" among them.

Hear "Created By Clive":

Hear "Grounded":

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