|THE ALAN BOWN-Story Book/Little Lesley US Music Factory MU 406 1968|
The Alan Bown Set were a seven piece British soul/r&b group who cut five singles in that vein for the Pye label in the U.K. before switching labels (moving to MGM), names ("The Alan Bown") and genres (pop/psychedelia), in that order. Their debut of these three was in October of 1967 when MGM in the U.K. issued "Toyland" (MGM 1355). It's follow up, "Story Book" (MGM 1387) was issued in March 1968 and simultaneously released here in the U.S.
"Story Book" differs slightly from the version released on the band's LP "The Alan Bown" (US Music Factory MSF 12,000). The single starts with a demented laugh (with trippy affects) that is phased into the intro of horns that resembles The Graham Bond Organization meets Near Eastern sounds. There's Hammond, Mellotron, high harmony backing vocals, guitar with vibrato/echo and lead singer Jess Roden's soulful voice singing about nursery rhymes, whimsy and true "Pop psych"/"toy town psych" lyrics. The whole thing works because somehow the r&b horns and the voice of a fine blue eyed soul vocalist lend themselves quite well to the psychedelic nursery rhyme whimsy and Arabian nights put to music!
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The flip side, "Little Lesley" stays firmly in the "Toy town" pop psych genre with regal sounding horns and a jaunty feel to it that sounds indistinguishable from any number of less than stellar pop-psych tracks on Deram or Decca in '68. Unfortunately for me it falls flat, like an unmemorable Manfred Mann from the same era that isn't unlistenable but doesn't merit further replays either.
Both sides appear on the earlier mentioned 1968 long player "The Alan Bown" (issued as "Outward Bown" in the U.K. ).
Hear "Story Book":
Hear "Little Lesley":