Posted tagged ‘psychedelia’

♪ 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)

Donwload All (Mp3)

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Barb Wire Love

♪ Random Record A Day #1: Fields – Fields (LP, 1969)

January 10, 2010

Fields – Fields
LP, 1969, Uni / MCA

LP Cover

Get it here (MP3)
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Ok first off, this band bears no relation to the English/Icelandic group of the same name.

This album has been in my possession forever – having been part of my father’s collection, presumably, from the time it was released back in 1969.

Fields were a US psyche-blues-rock-soul trio consisting of Richard Fortunato (lead vocals and guitar), Patrick Burke (bass) and Steve Lagan (percussion). They existed for only about a year or so, released one single (Bide My Time), this eponymously titled album, and they collapsed after touring together.

The LP itself comes in a somewhat horrid gatefold sleeve, with the cover mixing disgusting purple, green and mustard-yellow, with a dodgy sepia band photograph forming the centrepiece. But just as one should never judge a book by its cover, one should never judge an album by its artwork. Well, sometimes you probably should, but not in this case.

Musically, this is a somewhat unfocused blending of styles, but it works. Sort of. An obvious influence is the hard blues-rock of the likes of Cream, but there’s also acid-rock and psychedelia, soul – Motown’s Brenda Holloway and Ray Charles’ backing singers The Raelettes (incorrectly spelled ‘Raylettes’ in the liner notes) make appearances – and even traces of funk in the mix. Mercifully, there are no Baker-esque drum solos and not too much in the way of guitar-wankery, and the album as a whole is very raw.

Side One consists of songs between 3 and 5 minutes and for me the standout track is Take You Home – which was the B-side to the Bide My Time single. It’s a heavy blues rocker, with great riffs, which is basically about just wanting to fuck someone. Jump On You is also pretty good as well – and one can only presume it’s what happens once Fields have taken you home.

Listen: Take You Home – via DivShare (unhelpfully, WP doesn’t allow embedding of DivShare links)

But the real treasure of this album is Love is the Word, the 18-minute epic crazy-fest that takes up the entirety of Side Two. You kind of have to just hear, as it defies explanation – at least as far as my limited writing skills are concerned. If you forced me, Id’ say its the sound of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Doors, acid-Motown and Clapton having been shoved in a blender, gobbled up and then unceremoniously vomited back out. But I don’t think I’d be doing it justice.

What I can say with certainty is, that this is the kind of thing I’d usually hate, but for whatever reason, in this particular case I love it. What it’s not, is some circle-jerky ‘jamming’ session – its an actual song with a structure. A lunatic structure, but a structure nonetheless. Plus it’s got horns and Brenda Holloway!

All in all, this is far from a great album, and certainly not some rare lost treasure. But its interesting, and I for one like it. Plus, they get bonus points for (allegedly) being named after the great W.C. Fields.

Tracklist

Side One

1. Elysian Fields (3:40)
2. Bide My Time (4:31)
3. Take You Home (3:00)
4. Jump On you (3:18)
5. Sun Would Set (5:19)

Side Two

1. Love Is The Word (18:22)

LP Back Cover

LP Inlay

Official Blurb (from a 2002 CD re-issue): “This US power trio’s sole album was released on both sides of the Atlantic in 1969, but sank without a trace. Equally influenced by blues, soul and acid rock, it’s an enjoyable mixture of snappy hard rock songs and the lengthy “Love Is The Word” suite, which occupied a whole side of the original LP. Featuring backing vocals from Northern Soul legend Brenda Holloway and production by former Merry-Go-Round guitarist Bill Rinehart, it’s a must for fans of bluesy psychedelic rock.”

Get it here (MP3)
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Barb Wire Love