Posted tagged ‘glam rock’

♪ Random Record A Day #4: John’s Children – Desdemona b/w Remember Thomas À Becket (SP, 1967)

January 15, 2010


John’s Children – Desdemona

b/w Remember Thomas À Becket
(SP, 1967, Track / Polydor)

7" single cover

John’s Children (1966-1968) are one of those groups I’d always been aware of as being something of a ‘cult’ (I hate that word) psychedelic-mod-freakbeat band, having often seen them referenced as “influential” and “inspirational” in articles and interviews about music – though mainly their influence lay in their raucous live shows. On a tour of Germany supporting The Who, they managed to out-Who The Who by going a bit mad on stage, resulting in the arrival of the riot squad. They were kicked off the tour and fled back to England. Legend also has it that when Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell saw them for the first time he said, “positively the worst group I’d ever seen”. A few drinks later and, “I’ll sign you”.

Researching them was a joy – but to be honest there’s no way I could do the story justice in a few brief lines here . So, if you’re anything like me, you love a good rock ‘n’ roll story – and therefore I command you to read this, part of which was written by Andy Ellison, one of the members – who among other things says: “Still we were all now exactly the same height, a thing that was very important that year” – which I just love!

However, what John’s Children are perhaps most famous for is being the home of the young Marc Bolan for about 6 months in 1967. Now, I love T-Rex – always have done and am not ashamed of it, nor of my fondness for Glam Rock in general – so I was quite excited when I saw that the lead track, Desdemona,  was written by the electric warrior himself! Even though I did know that at this time Bolan was in his I-wanna-be-a-folky-hippy-like-Donovan phase, and was expecting the worst.

Side A

However, I’m glad to say that there’s nothing particularly Donovanesque about this song at all really. In fact, it’s totally rockin’ and not at all what I expected to hear. I guess I’d call this hard-psychedelia, and to be fair, it took me more than a few listens to really appreciate it. But its infectious – I found myself several times today humming it to myself.

It starts off like its going to be a standard rock ‘n’ roll song, but once the drums and the MASSIVE bass kick in, its a wild ride. It’s all over the place like, but it really works. And it gets bonus points for being banned by the BBC for containing the line “lift up your skirt and fly”. The single was reissued with the line “why do you have to lie”, but still received fuck all airplay.

The lyrics, by the way, are nonsense, but when did that ever matter with Bolan?

Side B

Side B

The B Side instantly loses points for calling him Thomas À Becket – which was not his name! Unless they were referencing this chap that is. However, that minor quibble aside, this is another fine song.

Begins with what sounds like a squealing car, before turning into another bass and tom heavy rocker (with nonsense lyrics, this time not penned by Bolan) . Top stuff.

Listen/ Download – Via Div Share (Mp3)

Side A – Desdemona (2:25)
Side B –  Remember Thomas À Becket (2:20)

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Barb Wire Love

♪ Random Record A Day #2: The Move – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (SP, 1970)

January 11, 2010


The Move – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm

b/w What?
SP, 1970, Fly

This is the cover of a German version of the single, with a different B-Side

The Move (1965 – 72) were a pretty big band in Britain in the late 60s, with nine top 20 singles in five years.  For that reason I’m somewhat ashamed to say that these are the first songs of theirs I’ve ever (knowingly) listened to.  And given that, its also not surprising that before writing this, I knew very little about them – other than they later morphed into ELO (boo!), which Roy Wood quickly got tired of (who can blame him?), and went off to form Wizzard (yay!).

When Alice Comes Back to the Farm, released in 1970, was The Move’s fourth last single and taken from the Looking On album. The A-side, penned by Wood, is a heavy blues-rocker, almost approaching an early heavy metal or glam rock sound, though there is a nice twinkley rock ‘n’ roll piano thing going on in the background which lightens the tone a bit. And the heavy cello breaks are pretty amazing.

Side A

According to wikipedia, this single never made it into the charts “largely due to lack of airplay by BBC radio stations. The song allegedly [makes] mild references to cannabis – “Alice”, “time for tearing out the weeds” and the last line “don’t get around much anymore”, which is a description of the singer’s condition”.

With regard to the B-side, What?, three words and two exclamation marks should suffice – “Oh no! Prog!“.

Which is not surprising really, given that it was written by Jeff Lynne (I should have expected it when I saw his name), and that (I’m led to believe) The Move’s final two albums were basically fundraising operations for the first ELO album… shudder.  I should state my bias (though its probably abundantly clear): I have a very low tolerance for prog. These days I can stomach a lot more than I used to be able to, but still it makes me feel slightly wrong about myself.

Side B

This is almost seven minutes long, the lyrics seem to be a nonsense (e.g. “the overture is burning on the faces of the people in the churches of the land”), and it meanders all over the place.  That said, the more I listen to it (I’m on about listen six), the more it grows on me. Well parts of it do – which is probably one of the reasons I dislike prog so, I get the feeling that inside many prog songs, there’s a decent track drowning in the deluge of pompous self indulgence. And this song is a case in point – the good parts are great, in fact the riff sounds like Super Furry Animals ripped it off for Blerwytirhwng? (Where are you Between?). Another bit sounds like its trying to be I Am The Walrus , and there even seems to be a male choir in there. By no means the worst prog song I’ve ever heard, but overall fails to hit the mark. Shame really, cos the riff is excellent.

Listen / Download via DivShare (Mp3)

Side A – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (3:46)
Side B – What? (6:49)

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(3:46)