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Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness (RPM 3-CD set, RPMBX534)

The long-overdue repackaging of the Doctors of Madness’ three seminal LPs arrives, and for once, the smart clamshell box and photo-packed booklet are worth the trouble.

Their formation in 1974 in a Brixton cellar seems completely appropriate, given lead guitarist and singer Richard (Kid) Strange’s predilection for drama and Burroughsian poetry possessing a strong whiff of subterranean menace. Joining him were the magnificently monikered violinist Urban Blitz, bassist Stoner and drummer Peter di Lemma, all contributing to something far greater than the sum of their talents.

Signed to the street savvy Polydor label, ‘Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms’ arrived in 1976, fully formed and ready to take on all comers. The opener, ‘Waiting’ hits the ground running, with all the urgency and bluster of punk. ‘Afterglow’s mournful violin, Eastern stylings and slow, reflective lyric throws the listener, expecting perhaps more of the flash and clatter of ‘Waiting’. Instead, something more akin to psychedelic rock takes over, continuing the Eastern stylings in the melancholic ‘Mitzi’s Cure’. ‘I Think we’re Alone’ lacks the lyrical majesty that the instrumentation has in spades, but it’s hard not to get caught up in its romantic mood. ‘The Noises of The Evening’s scratchy, sawing violin intro is backed up well by a spiky guitar solo, leading into an epic, shambolic, piece that is worth the price of the LP alone.

Over on side 2 of the original LP, ‘Billy Watch Out’ begins with a gentle acoustic guitar figure and edgy violin, as Richard unrolls his kitchen sink tale, ironically soaring with the violin’s sound. ‘B-Movie Bedtime’s lively, punky sound has all the speedball excitement of the era, set off by suitably aggressive lyrics. Ending with the epic 15 minute ‘Mainlines’, a heady stew of Burroughsian lyrics, hypersensitive delivery, and camply melancholic backing, it should have made their reputation, and perhaps in some parallel universe, it did.

The CD is extended to include a wild, screeching outtake, ‘Doctors of Madness’ and The Doctors’ shambolic take on ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, a basement level punk thrash that could not have done the band’s reputation any favours. The ‘We Don’t Get Back’ demo has an interesting feel, but although lacking an engaging vocal performance, nevertheless suggests something that could be built on. The ‘B-Movie Bedtime’ demo is punkier than its final form, and may well have been left alone, rather than over-polished. ‘Out’ is the best demo here, its horror-movie siren sound and snidely delivery working well here. ‘Figments of Emancipation’, also released in 1976, opens with the melodic, slightly folksy intro of ‘Brothers’, but quickly descends into a hellish rock maelstrom, a style that continues in ‘Suicide City’s skyscraper guitars and Bowiesque sci-fi lyrics. The languorous, melancholic feel of ‘Perfect Past’ is proof that the Doctors were not all strum und drang; they had a sensitivity that could have been worth further exploration. Metaphorically flipping over to side 2, ‘Marie and Joe’ sees up back in kitchen sink drama territory, but who can complain about those rises and falls? The instant, up and at ‘em feel of ‘In Camera’ should perhaps have been the opening track, Richard’s slap-down delivery and Urban Blitz’s violin screeches shaking the listener by the neck, then soaring into a glorious, rising Olympian riff that couldn’t have been bettered by any of the rag-tag of rival bands of that mid-seventies period.

If ‘Doctors of Madness’ galloping riff doesn’t get you up, I suspect you may be clinically dead. ‘Out’ appears to have received the same injection untrammeledled excitement that the previous track’s early demo did, and represents a winning closer to an assured second LP. Extended further by ‘Frustration’s standard punk with added sheen, ‘I Make Plans’ sounds more final than the demo it is credited to be, and could easily have worked as a contrasting track on the original LP. ‘Triple Vision’s demo shows the Doctors could also be a little behind the times, and throw in a truly comical rhyme into the midst of a promising delivery.

‘Sons of Survival’ would prove to be the Doctors’ final LP, and perhaps their best, as they found themselves in an increasingly hostile musical world. ‘50’s Kids’ starts off in familiar violin-torturing style, quickly leaping into a punky riff and sneering delivery of rather forgettable lyrics. ‘Into The Strange’ has the Stooges-like slow crawl that was such a template for the punk generation, and the wailing violin once again sets off the song beautifully. Richard’s dry-throat, angry delivery is text book punk, and the song is easily the best on offer here. ‘No Limits’ plodding riff and mockney voice do the worried piece no favours. The single ‘Bulletin’ has the feel of a punk Fairport Convention piece, unlikely to appeal to the legion of spikies and snotties who were taking over the reins of rock by then. ‘Network’s phased guitar sound, crashing drums and bass and herald of doom vocals would work well today, and closes side 1 creditably.

Over on our imagined Side 2, title track, ‘Sons of Survival’ lays down a great, chopping riff enriched with strong guitars, while the sawing violin serves as a warning, as Richard spits out his tale of disappointment and distress. ‘Back from the Dead’ thunders along like crazy, shooting guitars and slicing violin challenging the listener to last the course. ‘Triple Vision’ reappears, fully infused with bile and energy, barely recognisable from its own, folky demo. ‘Kiss Goodbye Tomorrow’ returns us to the kind of romantic melancholy the Doctors obviously still thought had some mileage left in it. Our original closer, ‘Cool’ (live in the Satin Subway) is standard gob along punk, riding on a hell for leather violin screech, enriched with ‘Oi’s from the audience. Added bonuses include ‘Don’t Panic England’, recorded with short-lived member Dave Vanian, whose distinctive voice adds a little, but not enough to matter. The William Burroughs intro tape to the last Doctors of Madness gig (Camden’s Music Machine 26/10/1978) is atmospheric enough, and their version of ‘Trouble’ from this momentous occasion is an appropriately fuzzy, nasty and nothing to lose treatment that would pass muster today. ‘Making Machines’ robotic beat and wailing guitars is another highlight from this epitaph concert, the desperate vocals provided by TV Smith. Finally, ‘Who Cries For Me? a lament with a lullaby-like delivery, is a good place to leave this particular party.

The Doctors of Madness had a lot going for them; great musicianship, imaginative lyrics, grandiose backing and a striking image that set them apart from the rest of the late-period prog rockers they initially shared airspace with. What they didn’t have was luck. They were the missing strand of DNA between glam and punk, with the latter’s more mutant strain of bands quickly grabbing all the attention that should have been theirs. Too weird for the jaded musical conservatism that prog was turning into and too melodic and disciplined for the young punks who viewed everyone older than themselves with suspicion. Initially playing to their strengths and then adjusting to the prevailing mood, the Doctors of Madness imploded before they got the fair hearing they deserved. They’re back on tour this month, so you can decide for yourself.

BUY YOUR COPY HERE!

Scenester
8/5/17

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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May 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Music Psychedelic Reviews Tags:,
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Is Bliss speak to Eyeplug

Is Bliss comprise of Jimmy Stuart (Guitar/Voice), Dean Edwards (Bass) and Sam Speakman (Drums) and are based in Portsmouth. Gaining critical acclaim due to their original sound, 6music airplays and incendiary live performances on the increasingly growing new psychedelic gig circuit, they are a band to look out for. After successful support slots with both Mark Gardener (Ride) & Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), the band soon head out to do a support slot for The Jesus And Mary Chain on their current tour. Signed to Club AC30 with an imminent new E.P. recorded, Dean had a chat with Eyeplugs Dave Taylor who wanted to find out some more.

01. How did the band originate?

We started the band out of boredom I guess. Myself and Jimmy had been rehearsing songs now and then in his bedroom and when we felt we had something cool going on we decided that it would be best to look for a drummer. Sam was an old friend of Jimmy’s who had recently moved back to Portsmouth. Jimmy suggested we ask him to drum for us and from the first time we rehearsed as a 3-piece it felt right and we knew we were on to a winner with Sam.

02. How did you decide on your name?

The name ‘Is Bliss’ was a suggestion from a friend of the band who used to jam with me and Jimmy some while back before Sam joined. It seemed fitting and we stuck with it.

03. Who influences your sound?

We have always been fascinated by in our opinion, the two best eras for guitar bands, the 60s and the 90s. Both eras influence us heavily in the way we dress, think, write, play music and live. In terms of bands that made us want to start playing then we owe that to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane, Spacemen 3, The Verve, Radiohead and The Brian Jonestown Massacre etc…

04. What are you currently listening to?

Right now, we are listening to White Fence, The Smoking Trees, The Spyrals, The Lucid Dream, Tinariwen and Dead Rabbits. Really, anything psychedelic and fuzzy is what we love!

05. How has the band evolved since it’s initial concept?

I feel we have evolved in every aspect of being a band really, We’ve learnt what common ground and also what differences we have and how to use that to create something we all are happy with. This is the case in every song, we all have to be into it 100%, otherwise it doesn’t work for us. We’ve evolved as friends too and grown closer as a unit. We know each others next move in the rehearsal room as well as on stage.

06. Your last release, the Velvet Dreams E.P. was Lauren Lavern’s Record of the Day on 6 Music and the first pressing completely sold out. Surely, you must be pleased with that?

For sure we were absolutely made up when we heard both of those! To be played on 6music is something we always wanted to achieve and so when we did this on our first attempt we felt a sense of pure excitement really, and to then go on to find out the E.P. completely sold out and went into the official charts, well that’s something I think we are still getting our heads around even now. We are incredibly proud of that and couldn’t thank everybody who bought a copy enough!  

07. You’ve personally been selected by The Jesus And Mary Chain to open for them at the O2 Bournemouth on their current tour.  Are you looking forward to playing your biggest venue to date?

Yes, of course, we are absolutely buzzing to get up onto that stage and show the crowd in Bournemouth what we are about. Let’s hope we can get them warmed up enough before the sonic destruction that follows!

08. Where else can we see you play live in the near future?

We have a large selection of dates to follow this year, Festivals in the summer and of course Liverpool Psych Fest in September. Here’s how our April 2017 is looking:

01: Bournemouth – O2 Academy
07: London – Sebright Arms 
12: Brighton – Hope & Ruin
14: Paris – Espace B
16: Bristol – Crofters Rights
22: Southsea – Castle Road, Record Store Day Event

09. You promote your own Psych Fest in Portsmouth. Tell us more.

We run a night once a year called “Southsea Psych Out”. It’s just a chance for us to bring some of our favourite unsigned psych and shoegaze bands down to Pompey to tear the roof of a sweatbox of a venue. We started it last year and the night sold out which was great! We return this year in August.

10. If you were to record a cover version, what song?

I think we’ve always tried to concentrate on our own material but if the opportunity to play a cover ever did arise we always liked the idea of toying with a dance tune and making it our own. We wouldn’t want to do the obvious you know. Set ourselves a challenge with an acid house tune maybe.

11. You’ve recently been in the studio to record your next release. When can we expect to hear it and what formats will it be released on?

Yes, we’ve just finished in the studio with Patrick Collier (Vibrators, Primal Scream, New Model Army) and we have recorded a 5 track E.P that we are really pleased with. It will be released via Club AC30 in late May on 12″ coloured vinyl and digital download.

12. If people want to find out more how can they keep in touch with the band?

We have a facebook page: facebook.com/isblissband, Our label can be found: at facebook.com/clubac30 , You can also check us out on Spotify: spotify.com

Main Photo Credit: Jessica Mailey

Dave Showplug Taylor

Dave Showplug Taylor is owner of Showplug Promotions, a man who makes things happen, loves providing great affordable quality Events, Gigs, Shows, Comedy Plugs and great all around Entertainment. Works closely alongside Eyeplug Media and lives by the Sea with his Family. Loves the MC5 and Cold Beer.

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March 23, 2017 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , , , ,
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The Orders – If Gold Dust Turns To Stone

The Orders are a young three-piece creating waves currently on the Isle of Wight and way beyond. With recent BBC interest and a double appearance at the recent Isle of Wight Festival including a stint on the main stage, things are looking rosey for these ‘Caulkheads’ (please feel free to google that one and no it is NOT a type of drug!).

We had a  nice fresh signed copy of ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’ on chunky 7-inch Vinyl, wrapped in a cool sleeve drop through our letterbox, recently and it went straight onto the turntable, and after several spins a Summer smile finally appeared on this cynical old face.

Kyle Chapman (guitar and vocals) seems at present to be the main songsmith for the Orders with shards of Telecaster guitar chopping into the fray with tidy support from the throbbing, wandering, bass-punch of Issac Snow (Bass & Backing Vocals) with the entire thing held together with the safe time-keeping of Joe Rowe on (Drums & Percussion) who for his age is a mighty fine drummer!

The A-side track, ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’  has an energetic youthful vibrance with a ‘surf’ style twang here and there and a solid indie-sike- pop feel with mixed hints of The Kaiser Chiefs, The Stone Roses, The Artic Monkies, The Who, The Jam, all mashed up as influences, but with a nice dreamy twist. I even recalled a glint of ‘Crocodiles’ era Bunnymen and very early Cure, in there, as the nice space in and around this track with layered backing vocals added a lift and a confidence for even brighter things ahead. It would be great to get the Drummer Joe to add into making, even more, 3-part harmonies central to their sound and identity. The folks at Humbug Studios seem to have caught a moment in time nicely too!

The sound has a tinge of 1960s Freakbeat, West-Coast Sunshine Pop, and mixes that with a dose of gritty Britpop. They certainly have a poppy appeal that spills over onto the B-side track ‘Time Ran Circles’ which has a Roses’ style outro interplay at the end which illustrates how this band have already absorbed tons of melody, harmony and rhythmic spirals that will no doubt come out into their set list in the future.

So this gets a firm thumb’s up from us here at Eyeplug and we look forwards to seeing and hearing more from them soon!

Web Links

facebook.com/theorders
soundcloud.com/the_orders
Instagram – @the_orders
Twitter – @the_ordersuk

Buy record here – paypal.me/TheOrders £8.50 including p&p

 

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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July 13, 2016 By : Category : Indie Modernist Music Picks Pop Psychedelic Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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DozenQ – The Orders

This entry is part 18 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

The Orders are a power trio from the Isle of Wight with influences from Indie and Psychedelic Rock. The band consist of Kyle Chapman – (singer, guitarist), Isaac Snow – (bassist, backing singer) and Joe Rowe – (drummer). These three youngsters, hit you hard with twisted sounds that could be shot through a silent gun making a very big impact indeed. Eyeplug recently caught up with them after their super slot on the mainstage at the Isle of Wight Festival.

01 How did you get started?

We started the band up in high school 2013 April through me knowing our bassist Isaac through middle school and then meeting Joe our drummer in high school. Me and Isaac had been mates since middle school and had always played guitar together, after about a year into high school I was itching to start a band and then something came together with a few high school mates including Joe it didn’t work out with the others but I brought Isaac into the band to play Bass guitar and together we formed our trio. We heard there was an Isle of Wight Festival daytime slot available for musicians and bands from our high school and we got a half hour set of 60s and punk covers and played a small stage at the festival which was our first gig of 2013.

02 Where did your name come from, being based on the IOW how does that influence things?

The name ‘The Orders’ came about from suggesting loads of band names I suggested ‘the standing orders’ after a pub in Southampton and that got turned down but after a while of deciding we went with ‘The Orders’, being IOW based is difficult because it’s a small community for musicians, we’re stuck on an island and occasionally we visit the mainland but we will always have to return to the island thatis our home.

03 Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

Lots of musicians influence us, I look up to bands that are interesting musically and live like the Fat White Family a new underground band, there music is very creative but very raw and dirty sounding. Iv seen them live 3 times and there shows are always mental. Also the more obvious bands of today like the Libertines and Tame Impala inspire us musically too. I hate the corporate side of things in music, always over polished, always done by the book. Those sort of artists get it easy, they have songwriters to write their songs but they get all the credit, the songwriting is the most important thing in music but they get to sing other people’s songs and earn millions. Simon Cowell and all his merry men are tossers, there’s no excitement in that.

04 What drives you to make music?

People drive us to make music, we do it to be entertaining and show everyone what we’re about. We’re not a boring band, so to go out and play live and see people enjoying themselves is great and making music that people actually want to listen to is what makes it all worthwhile. Our fan base is still growing.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live show?

Loads of energy, harmonies, shouting, loudness and sweat.

06 Who writes your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I write all the songs, usually just sitting in my room on my acoustic guitar I then bring them to rehearsal and the pieces of the puzzle all come together. The songs are usually about everyday life, being a slave to society, finding things to get away from it or sometimes just random made up scenarios that paint a picture. All my songs always have a hidden meaning within, you have to look closer into wisdom.

07 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Our music has evolved loads since we first started, when we started playing original music the songs were very straight forward, upbeat and Punky, they weren’t Punk songs but they had that Punk energy. Our music evolved over time and my songwriting had a big influence in that, it started to evolve into a more progressive sound with the use of guitar effects and improvisation. We got told that our music had some psychedelic influences creeping in and I liked the idea of that and started writing songs that had a bit more of a psychedelic influence, that isn’t the case with all our songs, but now a lot of our best tunes have a nice psychedelic twang to them. We’re now an Indie Psych band I would say rather than the Punk/Garage band that we started out like.

08 What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

Rehearsing was a big problem for a while, there was arguments over it because I wanted to rehearse and the others wouldn’t or couldn’t and it was annoying me because I wanted to play new songs and get tighter as a band. Getting a space to rehearse was the other problem because of where all the gear was and we kept getting kicked out of churches and everything was just getting to complicated. Eventually Steve, a very good friend and helper to the band sorted us a rehearsal spot in a night-club venue, which meant we could leave our gear there and rehearse there a couple of times a week. Sorted. 

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

We do sometimes play covers, but only in pub sets or sets where we are playing to people who are already pissed and just want to hear the same old covers. If there was any song we could cover I’d go with ‘the Inception’ theme tune, with a full orchestra and everything.

10 Where do you envisage being in five years time?

I think in 5 years time, we will be eating out of bins and begging for spare change. But I do hope we’re headlining Post Fest. *(That’s a slightly smaller IOW festival by the way).

11 Who would you most like to record with?

Would love to record with Kevin Parker, he created Tame Impala, he’s a genius, he could make us sound like the universe sitting inside a sea shell.

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

You should be expecting The Orders to be making a big impact. More records, more gigs, more orders. You can buy a copy of our signle via the link below!

 

Web Links

facebook.com/theorders
soundcloud.com/the_orders
Instagram – @the_orders
Twitter – @the_ordersuk

Buy record here – paypal.me/TheOrders £8.50 including p&p

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 23, 2016 By : Category : DozenQ Interviews Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , ,
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Another Splash of Colour – Longjohn Reviews

“Another Splash of Colour (New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-85)’’ is arguably the first comprehensive overview of the British psychedelic revival of the early 1980’s. Cherry Red Records have put together a 3-CD set featuring 64 neo psychedelic tracks that span the first five years of the 1980’s. This compilation expands on the original ‘‘A Splash of Colour’’ LP, which was released in 1981 and this new edition comes housed in a clamshell box with a 34-page booklet containing exclusive pictures, and a mammoth 9,000-word essay written by former NME journalist Neil Taylor.

The artists who featured on the original album are included here, and The Mood Six, The Times, Miles Over Matter, Icicle Works, The High Tide, The Barracudas, The Earwigs and The Marble Staircase, were all heavily influenced by 1960’s British psychedelia.  What is rather nice about this new expanded version is that it now includes some big hitters who are rubbing shoulders with some lesser-known artists, including The Soft Boys, The Television Personalities, The Dream Factory, The Legendary Pink Dots, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope, Playn Jayn, The Attractions (minus Elvis Costello) and The Prisoners.

The expanded box set is a timely reminder that psychedelia was a broad church musically, and Cherry Red Records have used the original “A Splash of Colour’’ LP to form the basis of this new collection. The envelope has been pushed even further by the inclusion of post punk and new wave acts that were influenced by 1960’s pop and psychedelia but without being slavishly devoted to a 1960’s sartorial and musical aesthetic. It is clear that psychedelia was a much looser musical concept in this period, than the original ‘A Splash Of Colour’’ LP suggests, and this collection is a nicely rounded overview of bands and artists that were not quite carrying the psychedelic freak flag but obviously owed a small debt of gratitude to the pioneers of psychedelic rock music in the late 1960’s.

A special mention should be given to some of the artists that graced the original “A Splash Of Colour’’ LP as without them this box set would not have materialized. The High Tide, The Marble Staircase and The Mood Six have two songs apiece on this collection and these artists in particular were not afraid to doff their velvet fedoras to Syd Barrett Era Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and Traffic, and the result is pleasing but the studious approach to recreating the past leaves these artists sounding somewhat derivative.  The Barracudas also appeared on the original album and were ironically an English band that was clearly indebted to the USA’s surf music scene of the 1960’s. “Watching The World Go By’’, and ‘’Inside Mind’’ feature on this collection, and clearly demonstrated their bias for 1960’s sunshine pop. However, these days The Barracudas might only be remembered for their top 40 novelty surf song called “Summer Fun’’ which was released in 1980.

Robyn Hitchcock features on Disc 1 with a solo effort “It’s a Mystic Trip’’, which came out as a flexi disc 7’ in 1981, but it is the scorching “Only The Stones Remain’’ with his group The Soft Boys that almost steals the show on the first CD of this box set.  It is no secret that Hitchcock was a big admirer of his Cambridge compatriot Syd Barrett, and The Soft Boys did a remarkably brilliant version of Barrett’s “Vegetable Man’’, which can be found on the expanded edition of their second album “Underwater Moonlight’’. The two songs included here showcase Hitchcock’s surreal lyrics as well as his knack for making brilliant hook laden tunes, and as these two songs demonstrate Hitchcock and The Soft Boys are criminally underrated.

The Monochrome Set have one song included on this collection, and “On The Thirteenth Day’’ taken from their third album “Eligible Bachelor’s’’ demonstrates that they could combine a macabre sense of humour, hooky melodies and bristling edgy energy to make effortless pop songs and it is baffling that The Monochrome Set remain nothing more than a well kept secret. “On The Thirteenth Day’s’’ surreal and grotesque lyrics about corrugated horse flesh and venus fly traps hint at an acid trip going awry, and the Kafkaesque imagery is possibly the only explanation for the inclusion of this brilliantly quirky song’s inclusion on this collection.

It would be doubtful if no more than a handful of discerning souls have heard of Nick Nicely, and if that is the scenario then this artist thoroughly deserves to be rediscovered on the basis of the two tracks included here. “Hilly Fields’’ and “49 Cigars’’ take the experimental nature of psychedelia and electronic synth pop and combined these two elements together to almost breathtaking effect. “49 Cigars’’ in particular, is eerily psychedelic and sounds like it owes something of a debt to those late 1960’s psychedelic pioneers The Factory, and it is about time that both of these acts in their respective time period were given the recognition they richly deserve.

No collection like this would ever be complete without acknowledging the influential Medway garage scene that sprouted up from around the pubs and clubs of Rochester and Chatham in Kent in the first half of the 1980’s. The Dentists first single from 1985 the effortlessly catchy and jangly “Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden’’, has an obvious 1960’s dreamy West Coast pop influence with harmonies and tambourines galore, and this little known gem of a song is a welcome inclusion on this box set.

However, it is the roughly hewn music made by The Prisoners and The Milkshakes that have overshadowed other Medway acts like The Dentists and both of these bands are arguably the most celebrated and influential acts that came out of the Medway scene.  The sheer effortless power of The Prisoners, which is demonstrated by the inclusion of ‘’Reaching My Head’’, that ably demonstrates what a popular live draw they must have been around the Medway and London in the 1980’s.  Graham Day’s crunching, spiky guitar riffs, soulful vocals, and James Taylor’s masterful swirling organ, combined to create a somewhat rough garage sound that was also dripping in obvious pop melodies, which make it baffling why The Prisoners never broke out from their status as a critically acclaimed cult act to wider recognition.

There is not too much that can be said about legendary punk band The Damned, however, a little mention should go to their alto ego’s Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, who covered the Electric Prunes psychedelic classic “I Had Too Much Too Dream Last Night’’.  Legend has it that it was originally thought that Naz Nomad and the Nightmares were a lost 1960s Garage band, and it is easy to see why fans of Nuggets era garage were salivating over the thought of uncovering some obscure 7’ records by a long lost 1960s act. Naz Nomad and the Nightmares covered a number of garage classics to such stunning effect that they were genuinely seen as the real thing, and one can only assume that The Damned adopted this pseudonym so they could completely immerse themselves in the garage and psychedelic records that they so clearly adored.

Julian Cope is another artist who really needs little introduction as the lynchpin and creative force of The Teardrop Explodes.  However, Cope also released two overlooked solo albums straight after the demise of The Teardrop Explodes and included on this box set is “Sunspots’’, which is taken from Cope’s second album “Fried’’. “Sunspots’’ was released as a single in 1984 and it is easy to see why this particular song has ended up on this box set as the “Arch-Druid’’ is a unique pop star, who easily churned out great Psychedelically pop inflected tunes with consummate ease. Cope ploughed his own artistic furrow to such an extent as to pose naked under a turtle shell for the front cover of “Fried’’, and this eccentric pop star’s inclusion on this collection makes it an even greater well rounded listening experience.

Three bands from Creation Records feature on the third disc, and co founder of the label Alan McGee has never denied his utter devotion to 1960’s psychedelia. His fascination with 1960’s pop was such that he even named his fledgling label after cult British psych pop art band The Creation and named his own band Biff, Bang, Pow after one of their songs. The inclusion of Biff, Bang Pow, The Jasmine Minks and The Revolving Paint Dream demonstrate that a new musical beginning was just around the corner that was introspective, self-deprecating, amateurish and sonically ragged. This new musical movement it could be argued was a natural evolution from the music included on this box set, and it would eventually become christened as “Indie Pop’’ and this fleeting moment was crystallized on the NME’s C86 cassette tape.

“Another Splash Of Colour’’ is such a brilliantly diverse and varied collection of somewhat obscure neo-psychedelia that it could be a contender for one of the compilations of the year. The collection ably demonstrates that their was an alternative listening experience in the early 1980’s that was to some extent lysergic, and was the absolute antithesis to the ubiquitous and slickly produced synthesizer pop that was polluting the FM airwaves with alarming regularity in this period. If you are a discerning soul whose preference is for obscure psychedelic tinged music that has slipped under the radar then there is simply no excuse for not buying this box set. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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April 18, 2016 By : Category : Eyeplugs Front page Garage Modernist Music Psychedelic Reviews Rock Tags:,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews June 2015 (Part 1)

Lost Dawn: Lost Dawn (Easy Action)

lost-dawn
Falmouth’s Lost Dawn has the kind of fearless attitude that makes some bands great and others not so much. Their self-titled premier full-lengther is the kind of album that will grow on even the most jaded fan of this kind of music – a cross between overt pop inclinations with a slight psychedelic twist, and loose nut, rave-up experimentalism. The first two-thirds of “LD” lo-fi’s its’ way into your brain cells wonderfully. There is a distinct Marc Bolan vibrato to the effects-driven vocals that meshes well with the reverb boogie of “Breaking Bad” and “Count On Me”. Drums splash and attention spans expand and it all makes perfect contrary logic until “Manchild” when, for over six minutes the band builds from a fairly typical rhythmic pattern and heads for the very outside edges of their sound. Call it a rave-up or simply a progression to the limits in the confines of the song-it works to create a new sense of what this band is capable of when they stretch. Closing with hippie dream ballad “Kennedy”, Lost Dawn turns the tables again and all told this pleasing set builds a strong case for watching what this band does to follow this.
(11 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Honey: Weekend Millionaire (Easy Action)

HONEY
Blame grunge. Blame Courtney Love. Blame anything else but poor Cornwall, U.K. trio Honey for their immediately identifiable retrograde sound. Sure, every band has roots and most bands can’t shake a sound-a-like framework at the outset of their careers. We’ll give the three in Honey their first fault. Originality is a difficult and delicate thing to grab and shape into something a band can stand behind proudly. It needs to come from within the group rather from their record collections… eventually. Singer/guitarist Sarah Marie Tyrrell has guts to spare yet mewls and roars like you’ve heard it before. Points given for a guitar-centric roar that chop chops at chords defiantly while drummer Sammy and bass guitarist Ele complement heroically. That part works. Sometimes the deck requires a quick re-shuffle before the players can get down to a serious game. Honey is at the table and ready to deal except the cards are marked and the dealer already knows exactly what will be played next. Next?
(10 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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June 22, 2015 By : Category : Dark Eyeplugs Features Front page Indie Music Post-punk Psychedelic Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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Junior’s Eyes – Longjohn LP Review

Why Junior’s Eyes confusingly chose to name their one and only long player after the iconic grade II listed Battersea Power Station can only be explained by the band themselves. For the curious music listener this might be a good enough reason for those with a favourable disposition towards that iconic landmark to purchase the CD. You might be forgiven for thinking that this album by the very obscure progressive rock outfit Junior’s Eyes is an ode to arguably London’s most famous modernist landmark.

The album, which was released in 1969, is a curious mix of prog meets soulful rock with a so-called narrative in the form of a continuous suite, which forms the basis of side 1 of the original LP. In the liner notes guitarist Mick Wayne suggested that there was a narrative of sorts, which references the Tibetan Book Of The Dead and a rather vague idea of ‘layers of conscience and consciousness’, which is not clear despite the song-cycle glueing seamlessly, the songs themselves seem completely unconnected to each other.

Cherry Red Records subsidiary Esoteric Records do a really quite remarkable job of uncovering obscure albums from the late 1960s and early 1970s for our listening pleasure. With their customary care and diligence they have released this album as a 2 CD set with the first disc comprising the re-mastered album with the second disc comprising singles, demos and a couple of BBC sessions thrown in for good measure.

The liner notes are detailed and impressive and give some useful background information on how Junior’s Eyes came into existence. For musicologists and prog and psych fans the notes fill in some important musical and historical gaps, which make this particular album more of a curiosity to a hardened fan of late 60s and early 70s prog and psych as opposed to an essential listening piece.

There are several reasons why this album might pique the interest of rabid prog and psych aficionados. Firstly this particular project was overseen by the maverick producer Toni Visconti, whose impressive CV includes producing a clutch of classic albums by David Bowie, T Rex, The Moody Blues, Sparks, Iggy Pop and countless others. The Battersea Power Station album is also notable for featuring the symphonic prog rock artist of pomposity Rick Wakeman who contributed keyboards to BPS, and the late Mick Wayne who was the sole lyricist and lead guitarist in Junior’s Eyes. Wayne also moonlighted as a session musician at the time of recording BPS, and he contributed lead guitar to David Bowie’s breakthrough hit Space Oddity, as well as being an integral part of Bowie’s touring band in 1968/69.

Toni Visconti is arguably one of the most respected and highly sought after music producers in the business; however, he was unable to mask the obvious flaws on this album. For example, there is no clear vision lyrically and the album in general seems rather aimless and what we are left with is a series of songs that are rather too earnest to be taken seriously (My Ship) and (White Light) with occasional flights of whimsy, (Miss Lizzie) and (I’m Drowning), which overall have very little to say. Instead Junior’s Eyes come across as an inferior soulful rock version of Traffic and Free.

The album sadly falls a bit flat because there are no real memorable hooks and it does not stick long in the memory even after repeated listens. The album opens promisingly with the guitar drenched feedback howl of Total War and the single Circus Days, but the album soon runs into trouble and all too often it relies on elongated drum and guitar solos, which all too often on late 60s and early 70s AOR meant only one thing, when you have nothing to say then just rely on the so called tried and tested method of stadium sized rock god riffs and bombastic blues rock stodge to try and make up for the lack of any real song writing craft. To be fair though Junior’s Eyes were not the only band guilty of this.

Battersea Power Station is for collectors of psych and prog only. The album is no more than a historical oddity and is neither conceptual as the liner notes suggest or a classic blues rock album. Battersea Power Station is a letdown because of the songs themselves, which are lazily written and only just about passable because of the somewhat gravelly soulful vocal delivery of Graham Kelly. The late Mick Wayne’s guitar riffs are ok and the occasional use of Wakeman’s mellotron aside the album is just a series of meandering songs and the idea of a narrative on side 1 of the original LP is just not convincing, and the album as a whole sounds disjointed without any clear focus or direction.

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Grab a Copy of the LP Here!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Psychedelic Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies – LP Review

Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies – The American Metaphysical Circus – Album review

The American Metaphysical Circus by Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies is a Psychedelic/Experimental album, which has been re-mastered and re-released by Cherry Red Records subsidiary Esoteric Recordings.  The album was originally released in 1969 and is something of a minor cult classic, owing in part to the fact that Joe Byrd was a member of the equally experimental and influential United States of America, whose one and only long player proceeded the aforementioned album by a year.

The initial intrigue in The American Metaphysical Circus it could be argued is that it bears something of a passing resemblance to the cult classic by the United States of America.  Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies were equally as experimental as The United States of America, and for many Byrd’s work with the Field Hippies might seem a logical progression to his previous work with TUSOA.

The American Metaphysical Circus album title was also used as the song title on the opening track of TUSOA, and the album is also conspicuous by the absence of any meandering guitar solos, which were prevalent in the late 1960s. Of the 12 songs on the album only a couple of tracks have electric guitars on them, instead the classically trained Joe Boyd opted for the pioneering use of the synthesizer and a myriad of other instruments including the harpsichord, electric violin, piano, organ and the obligatory bass and drums.

However, it would be too simplistic to compare Joe Boyd’s work with TUSOA and subsequently with the Field Hippies as similarly experimental and avant-garde.  Once the listener becomes immersed in the American Metaphysical Circus they will discover a very intellectual and much more ambitious project in the form of a somewhat oblique narrative.

The American Metaphysical Circus is a conceptual piece, which is not immediately obvious on first or even a second listen. The album does not initially seem linear or thematic and there are 12 songs split unevenly into 4 suites with long and bizarre titles. The idea of collating songs into a suite may seem an unusual concept in itself, except that Jefferson Airplane pulled of a similar trick in 1967 with their After Bathing at Baxter’s album, in which they also split the songs of the album into 5 suites.

The interesting thing about The American Metaphysical Circus, however, is that it eschews the perceived notion of what constitutes Acid Rock in the late 1960s, and this as Joe Boyd suggests in the liner notes was a need to defy Rock n Roll convention and instead the album is a broad canvas and encompasses a myriad of musical styles, including Vaudeville, Rag Time, Jazz, electronic noises, and some conventional Rock n Roll.

Again this was not necessarily an avant-garde or novel idea as most of these musical influences could be heard in a slew of late 1960s Psychedelic records, which does make Joe Boyd sound like he is contradicting himself somewhat. However, what sets this album apart is that Joe Boyd was a classically trained musician, and the partial result of this was that he sought to avoid the traditional 4-piece band set up and opted instead for a loose musical collective, which included members from Jazz Rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Repeated listens of The American Metaphysical Circus reveals some disturbingly dark subject matter. The liner notes help to unlock the enigma to some extent, and thankfully the lyrics to all the songs are also included, so the listener can bear closer scrutiny over the subject matter. What makes the album even more challenging as a conceptual piece is that Joe Byrd is tackling three separate issues, which makes the album less cohesive and somewhat fragmented as a result.

What does help the listener is the fact that the album is divided into suites, and three of these suites deal with LSD, politics and the ageing process.

The album opens with three tracks under the sub heading The Sub Sylvian Litanies, which apparently is about a bad acid trip. It begins with an atmospheric swirl of ambient noise courtesy of the synthesizer, and a few minutes in a disturbing mantra sung by Victoria Bond ‘waiting to die’ is repeatedly sung, which then blends seamlessly into ‘You Can’t Ever Come Down’. This song has disturbing lyrics like ‘thousands of eyes but there’s no place to hide’, which is basically about a bad acid trip and set to rock music, which is reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane.

The next suite of songs under the sub heading of American Bedmusic 1: Four Dreams for a Departing President needs no explanation at all considering the release date of this album and the political climate in America in 1969. The clues are all in the title, however, listening to the four tracks in this particular suite reveal a complex list of grievances and ironic digs at the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson including his domestic programs, which included ‘A Great Society’ for all Americans. However, this was amid growing political and public unrest at the escalating Vietnam War, which eventually led to the demise of Johnson and a fractious Democratic Party. Boyd tackled these subjects with plenty of gusto and irony and in a myriad of musical styles, including a scratchy and lo fi ragtime song titled ‘Mister 4th of July’.

The final twist in this dark saga is the plight of old folks who once they have outlived their usefulness are removed from society’s view and sent off to old people’s homes to await their death. The 4 songs under the sub heading The Southwestern Geriatrics arts and Crafts Festival is a thoroughly disturbing tale about Leisure World, which was a retirement development in California where the needs of those over 65 were taken care of in a supposedly idyllic landscape, which included a series of diarized events and activities to entertain the elderly. The full horrific tale is about a community that is supposedly living in a utopian society but really what the songs and spoken word dialogue is telling the listener is that it is dystopia disguised as utopia.

The American Metaphysical Circus is a very dark and complex piece. However, it takes repeated listens for the full narratives to reveal themselves. The reason for this is because the stories are couched in irony and the complex music and genre hopping on the album can distract from the narrative, which is at times oblique. However, this album serves as a worthy companion piece to The United States of America, and for those familiar with Joe Byrd’s first foray into Psych tinged experimentalism should definitely add The American Metaphysical Circus to their collection.

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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March 17, 2015 By : Category : Cult Eyeplugs Front page Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , ,
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