Category Archives: 1960s

VARIOUS: Impact: The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound (LP, Columbia STWO 2, 1968)

Various - Impact The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound

I have quite a number of these ‘demonstration’-type records, no end of them were released through the 1960s and 1970s to show off the worlds/galaxies/spectra/etc of new stereophonic (or, in some cases quadraphonic) capabilities of, at the time, modern music-playing equipment. Most of the ones that I own were bought in the 1990s, during a time when I – like many others – influenced by a strange combination of Britpop, kitsch and Stereolab, scoured charity shops for records that might include a glimmer or two of easy listening excitement. The hit rate is generally pretty low with these records, but what they do offer is a tiny glimpse into what may have been spinning on the stereograms of shagpile-carpeted, wooden-panelled ‘dens’ or listening rooms during a very decadent time in history.

Here’s the track listing for Impact: The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound. Your call on whether any or all of the below represent a breakthrough, or indeed something exciting:

Side One

  1. David Rose And His Orchestra: ‘The Stripper’
  2. Norrie Paramor And His Strings: ‘Soul Coaxing’
  3. Mr. Acker Bilk And The Stan Tracey Big Brass: ‘Stranger On The Shore’
  4. Pepe Jaramillo And His Latin-American Rhythm: ‘Sucu Sucu’
  5. Franck Pourcel And His Orchestra: ‘Love Is Blue’
  6. Ron Goodwin And His Orchestra: ‘Legend Of The Glass Mountain’

Side Two

  1. Joe Loss And His Orchestra: ‘Wheels’
  2. The Norman Newell Orchestra: ‘Live For Life’
  3. Basil Henriques And The Waikiki Islanders: ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’
  4. Ralph Dollimore And His Orchestra: ‘The Fool On The Hill’
  5. Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains: ‘A Man And A Woman’
  6. Jack Emblow (Accordion): ‘Ritual Fire Dance’

It seems that every Joe, Ron and Norman had their own orchestra back in the day. The tracks of note here are Mr. Acker Bilk’s swingin’, sexy and ever-so-slightly-sleazy ‘Stranger On The Shore’, the rhumbas and cha-chas of Pepe Jaramillo’s ‘Sucu Sucu’ and Joe Loss’ ‘Wheels’ respectively, and the marvellous Hawaiian gliding melodies of Basil Henrique’s reading of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’.

The cover artwork bears the familiar, strident logo of Columbia sub-label Studio 2 Stereo, with the dynamic Impact text offset by the bizarrely staid and serious-looking typesetting of ‘The Breakthough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound’. No design credit is given on the sleeve, but the photograph used – which shows ‘glass fracture by shot gun pellets’, apparently, although it’s quite hard to tell – is courtesy of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a ‘British research establishment’ that in time was subsumed into the Ministry of Defence. Friends in high places, these easy listening types!

THE GREAT SOCIETY WITH GRACE SLICK: Conspicuous Only In Its Absence (LP, CBS 63476, 1968)

The Great Society with Grace Slick - Conspicuous Only In Its AbsenceGrace Slick would, of course, become more famous as the lead singer with Jefferson Airplane, but The Great Society is the band that came before, which featured other Slicks. There was Grace’s then husband Jerry Slick on drums, and Jerry’s brother Darby on guitar. A veritable slick of Slicks, indeed. Some Great Society songs came with Grace as she moved from them to the Jefferson Airplane – not least ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody To Love’.

Jefferson Airplane would, of course, lead to Jefferson Starship, who led to Starship, who – as we all know – built this city on rock and roll. I feel compelled to present the true awfulness of the video for that song:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsdj9NRzqC4]

Get over the shudders induced by that ‘orrible mess by reminding yourself of how cool Grace Slick was, when she was fronting the Great Society and Jefferson Airplane. The band are looking good on the cover of this record, in spite of the cover designer’s strange idea to overlay a photograph of a wicker chair on Grace’s face. I’m not sure why that was thought to be a good visual effect. But hey, the 1960s were a crazy time. It’s a lovely colour scheme on the sleeve, nonetheless.

I have three tapes somewhere which are all packed full of brilliant 1960s psychedelia and garage tunes. They’ve entertained me for over a decade now, at least. I think I may have mentioned them before here. Slowly but surely, I’m picking up the original releases of a lot of those tunes. ‘Somebody To Love’ by The Great Society is on one of those tapes – albeit not in the live version to be found on this album – and for years I always listened to it and thought “what a great cover of the Jefferson Airplane song… so close to the original in the vocal style… who are these Great Society pretenders, anyhow?” I guess there are always new facts to learn as way make our way through our musical lives.

THE ROLLING STONES: Their Satanic Majesties Request (LP, Decca TXS 103, 1967)

The Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties RequestThis isn’t the original release, as it doesn’t have the amazing 3D sleeve that so blew my mind when I saw a copy some years ago – although that was, mainly, because the three-dimensionality was of a similar low quality to the novelty measuring rulers that I used to have at school in the mid-1980s – so I guess this may not have actually been released in 1967. The labels on the record suggest by their design that this release may have been from the 1970s or later? Not sure.

I love the creative excesses of the late 1960s – layer upon layer of pushing the envelope and booting open the doors of perception:

  • Let’s have a picture of us on the sleeve, but let’s have it in three dimensions.
  • Let’s not just have a picture of us looking like any other band – why don’t we dress up as psychedelic wizards and place ourselves in an opulent Toytown setting?
  • That’s good, but we need more – let’s not have Side A and Side B, but call them instead Frontside and Backside. Why not, indeed?
  • Loving that, but we need yet more – let’s have a gatefold sleeve. Every band and their dog has a gatefold sleeve these days.
  • Gatefold it is. But let’s make sure that the gatefold contains one of the most complex, faux-Renaissance-through-a-futuristic-mind’s-eye illustrations anybody has ever seen. Yeah?
  • Yeah. But let’s also make sure that the illustration also includes a giant maze, with ‘It’s Here’ in trippy lettering at its centre.

And so it went. All of these conversations probably taking place before the music was actually even written.

Aleister Crowley and Satanism in general had a surprisingly large influence on some of the more out-there musicians of the late 1960s. The Beast 666 is in the crowd on the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper sleeve, the Stones got wound up in the whole magick/Kenneth Anger scene, Black Sabbath pretty much constructed their entire early career around the suggestion that they were actually evil demons, and so on. Yet, all of these bands were simultaneously being extraordinarily famous, and listened to by housewives and schoolkids around the world. Funny how things go, isn’t it? If similar things were to happen these days – mainstream artists hooking up with Satan and underground film-makers, whilst quaffing endless amounts of hallucinogens, I don’t think culture could take it. The resulting implosion with the Daily Mail offices at its core would probably swallow civilisation.

JETHRO TULL: Stand Up (LP, Fame FA 4130861, ?)

Jethro Tull - Stand UpThis isn’t the original release of this album, which came out first in, er… [quick internet research…] 1969. This is some wacky reissue that, as far as I can tell, isn’t the reissue from 1973 that’s mentioned in lots of places. So I guess that this record was never actually released, and therefore doesn’t actually exist. However, I’ll persevere under the belief that it does exist, and that I haven’t lost my mind. The back cover does mention both Fame and Chrysalis, so maybe this is the Chrysalis Records reissue, or some kind of odd second pressing of it. I can’t be bothered to investigate and find out, which is strange, as I normally love that kind of pointless detail.

Apparently the original cover artwork incorporated a pop-up gatefold element, so that when it was opened woodcut images of the four band members stood up. Stand Up, you see? It’s a shame that my copy doesn’t have this – it’s a plain old non-gatefold sleeve – as I’d love to see that. I quite like this cover artwork; the faces of the band are somewhat terrifying, but it’s nicely executed, and perhaps that’s what people looked like in 1969. Drugs, and all that.

Two memories come to mind when I think of Jethro Tull:

One: My old friend Matt from ‘back in the day’ (as people say), had an original copy of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick with its excellent newspaper-style cover. I used to enjoy looking at that artwork. The record was also, if memory serves, either two side-of-an-album length ‘pieces’, or even a single work split over two sides. Either way, a healthy example of over-the-top self-belief and flamboyance. Not many successful artists these days would release such an album. (Again, drugs, and all that).

Two: Jethro Tull’s performance on the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus film, featuring Ian Anderson standing on one leg and playing flute. I really love the way he plays the flute with such gusto:

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6046328113991991942]

Superb! If that entire film isn’t an example of ‘drugs, and all that’, I don’t know what is…

PINK FLOYD: Relics (LP, Music For Pleasure MFP 50397, ?)

I’m not sure when this record was released, and wasn’t Music For Pleasure one of those odd 1960s/1970s labels that pumped out all manner of product to fulfil whatever was currently in vogue? I’m sure I’ve seen (and, indeed, bought) lots of MFP records that would fall into the comedy/easy listening/’odd’ bracket. I have some recollection that there are interesting things afoot with this particular album, and any confirmation of these things would be appreciated:

  1. Relics has been released on another label. Hasn’t it?
  2. A different version of the sleeve exists without the pink colouring.

Ah. Duh. I just turned over the sleeve and saw a relatively large piece of text that deals with at least one of the above points:

Previously released on the Starline label (SRS 5071) under the same title

Maybe it was that release which had the slightly different cover? Should I stay awake worrying about these things?

I bought this record a looooong time ago, perhaps in something like 1990 or 1991, I’d imagine. Gosh. Twenty years ago. Seeing the sleeve now reminds me of many hours spent hanging out at a friend’s house; a friend who was several steps ahead of me in the record collection/music appreciation stakes. He had a copy of Relics alongside comprehensive collections of David Bowie’s releases (including, most interestingly and amusingly, his very early Davy Jones/’Laughing Gnome’-type output). We’d sit around listening to records for hour upon hour, and this educated me not only in the ways of some bands (like Pink Floyd and The Beatles) that I’ve gone on to get extraordinarily into, but also widened my horizons by introducing me to the work of – to reel a few names off from memory – Linton Kwesi Johnson, Gil Scott Heron, Ravi Shankar, and many more. This wasn’t so much a piece of specific musical education; more a set of lessons in how to listen to as much and as varied music as you can, in order to fully appreciate what’s good and what’s not. And to know why.

Whenever people ask that oft-posited question ‘If you could have been at any gig ever, which one would it have been?’ my answer is almost always “Pink Floyd – UFO Club – around 1968”. I’ve said that so often now, and seen so much footage of the band from that time, that I’ve almost convinced myself of actually having been there, which is both illogical and tragic. But hey, that’s what happens when you come across a really great band.

VARIOUS: Rubble Three: Nightmares In Wonderland (LP, Bam-Caruso KIRI 026, 1986)

Various: Rubble Three: Nightmares In Wonderland

Yet another volume of Rubble, the third that’s come up for examination here (the others being Volume 6 and Volume 9). On this one, there are a couple of better-known acts (The Pretty Things and Tomorrow) amongst the usual barrage of weird and wonderful-sounding artist names:

  • The Brain
  • Focus Three
  • Bamboo Shoot
  • Wild Silk
  • Mark Wirtz
  • The Lemon Tree
  • The Koobas
  • Aquarian Age
  • The Executive
  • The Chances Are
  • Ipsissimus
  • Edwick Rumbold
  • The Penny Peeps.

One aspect that I love of the Rubble series, and the Pebbles series that came before it, are the liner notes. Each volume has a brief round-up of who each artist was, along with a discography. The latter is normally very brief; such was the nature of most of these acts. Those brief round-ups all contribute, though, to an ever-nearer-to-completion patchwork of knowledge and information about a whole strand of music that is barely even known about by the vast majority of people. And there really is nothing like accumulating information that is meaningless to all but a select few people, is there?

One day in the distant future I’ll have a complete collection of all of these 1960s psychedelia/freakbeat/garage compilations, and I can’t wait. What seems like an inexhaustible volume of music must have some limits, and I presume that such a complete collection would go some way to comprising the whole lot. I wonder if at some point there will be similar compilations of unknown music from different times? There have been such collections for the punk/post-punk era, but beyond then – as far as I’m aware – there aren’t compilations covering obscure indie-pop, unknown independent label releases, and so on. Perhaps there just isn’t any interest? Or maybe I’m just not aware of compilations that do exist?

FAINE JADE: It Ain’t True (LP, Distortions DB-1007, 1992)

This album was picked up on eBay about three years ago. I regularly poke about amongst the eBay records on offer to see if I can uncover one or two psychedelic gems at bargain prices. This very rarely happens but I do come across a lot of this kind of thing – a more recently-released compilation of hard-to-find tracks by a particular lost hero of the 1960s. It’s a bit like the whole Nuggets/Pebbles/Rubble compilation ethos abstracted to a more extreme degree: this is not just rare, hard-to-find psychedelic obscurama, this is very specific and obsessively compiled rare, hard-to-find psychedelic obscurama.

I thought I’d take a chance on this Faine Jade collection as the artist holds a small but significant place in my musical heart. Faine Jade was one of the artists featured on a set of three compilation tapes that I copied from somebody in around 1995. That person had a friend who’d made tapes for them compiling much of the rare 1960s garage and psychedelic music they loved, interspersed with snippets of B-movie trailers, public information films of the time, and so on. I too very quickly grew to love everything on those tapes. Still to this day, they provide pointers for me of what’s worth checking out. Faine Jade’s ‘It Ain’t True’ was on one of those tapes, and it pleases me to see that somebody – whoever is behind the mysterious Distortions label that released this – took it upon themselves to not only track down that and twelve other tracks, but also to augment the music with several photographs and a lengthy history of the artist on the album’s A4 insert. A quick squizz at the internet reveals that Distortions have released a slew of other stuff in similar vein, including Lyres, Nazz, We The People, Bohemian Vendetta and even a Love single! Good work, Distortions Records.

I always presumed Faine Jade to be a band name, but the record’s insert informs me that it’s a man, an artist, with that name. It also reveals that he used to be known as Chuck. Chuck Jade would have been a pretty hip name for a young psychedelic traveller: Faine Jade just about nails it. I wonder what Chuck Faine is up to these days? Still recording? You have to love the internet, as it means that I can, and have just e-mailed the man himself in the hope of finding out… updates as and when I get them.

(Update 18 January 2010: I got a reply to my e-mail! Apparently Faine Jade has been repairing an old TEAC four-track, and expects to mix some tracks from around 1970 in the near future. They include a cover of ‘All Shook Up’! Excellent news.)

VARIOUS: Rubble Six: The Clouds Have Groovy Faces (LP, Past & Present PAPRLP006, ?)

Rubble Six - The Clouds Have Groovy Faces

I will never tire of buying compilations of rare and/or hard-to-find 1960s psychedelia/garage/weirdo/folk music gems. And that’s lucky, as there are what seem like thousands of them out there – some crossing over in their track lists, but on the whole a seemingly endless treasure trove of goodies to be uncovered and enjoyed. I’ve mentioned the Rubble series on here before; this release is one of the Past & Present reissues though, rather than a Bam-Caruso original. (Even when I’ve got all of these records, there will still be the different labels’ issues to keep me occupied in my record hunting. And once I’ve got all of the 1960s compilation vinyl that exists, there are then the CDs to move on to…)

The Rubble series, despite being pretty consistently high quality throughout, make me slightly uncomfortable with their somewhat hackneyed ‘far-out-man’ taglines on each volume – ‘The Clouds Have Groovy Faces’, for example. Why, that’s just paisley-patterned student nonsense. I would prefer more worrying, more disturbing taglines that delve into the darker side of the 1960s – ‘I Took STP And Sawed My Arm Off’, or something. But that’s probably just me. I love the cover of this one, the big bold type works nicely and the imagery is proper The Trip/Psych-Outesque swirling mania.

Looking at the track listing for this volume, it makes me think how some aspects of music never change. We’ve got acts including:

  • The Fairytale
  • The Kinsmen*
  • The Poets
  • The End
  • The Attack
  • The Accent
  • The Elastic Band

…and you thought that it was just a recent trait to lazily bands ‘the something‘? Oh, no.

*I did type that correctly – it’s The Kinsmen, not The Kingsmen (of ‘Louis Louis’ fame). The cheek of it!

HAPSHASH AND THE COLOURED COAT: Featuring The Human Host And The Heavy Metal Kids (LP, Minit MLL 40001, 1967)

Hapshash And The Coloured Coat - Featuring The Human Host And The Heavy Metal Kids

Wow, look at that cover design. Hapshash And The Coloured Coat were a fashion/graphic design house right in the centre of the late 1960s maelstrom of London psychedelia who, true to the spirit of ‘try anything’ released several albums, of which this is their first. The record within that glorious sleeve is on red vinyl, and is the earliest example of coloured vinyl that I’ve ever seen. I’d be very interested to hear of earlier instances. For now I’m happy to consider it the first, and therefore I imagine a stoned hippy or two having their mind further blown by a record being coloured. Woah.

I bought this on eBay four or five years ago after searching for a copy for a long time. With old records, and especially ones like this that were pretty ‘far out’ at the time, I’d really love to know the paths of ownership by which they have travelled from initial release through to my eventual ownership – in this case, over forty years later. Maybe this record once sat in Syd Barrett’s flat? Maybe it was under the arm of some hipster during their attendance at the 24 Hour Technicolor Dream or some such event? Maybe it was bought and hated by a square? Whatever, I’m pleased that it’s ended up with me. Out of all of the 1960s records I own, this is perhaps one of the finest examples of the super-underground freaked-out British music scene that I love and envy so much. Not so much because of the music – which is fine, chant-heavy meandering psych, somewhat lacking in direction – but because of what the record represents. People doing their own thing, being independent minded and creative, trying things out and proving that the idea of alternatives to a mainstream have always existed.

HUMBLE PIE: Natural Born Bugie (7″, Immediate IM 082, 1969)

Humble Pie - Natural Born Bugie

Ahhhh, this record takes me back. Not to 1969 when it was released, obviously, as I was yet to be born then, but to my excitable youth, delving into the world of the 1960s and pseudo-mod culture at around the age of 18 or so. My listening to the Small Faces led to my listening to the Faces, which inevitably lead to Humble Pie, the band that briefly took up Steve Marriott’s time in between. The three bands are a clear line drawn from the ramshackle mod excitement of the early ’60s to the boozy, rockin’ late ’60s. Humble Pie, of course, also feature legendary curly-haired rocker Peter Frampton, who you will have seen – whether you realise it or not – on the Frampton Comes Alive cover, looking all starry-eyed and airbrushed.

Around the time when I was right into this stuff, I briefly dabbled in a covers band with some friends, which included my singing of the Small Faces’ ‘Song Of A Baker’. If you don’t know me, that won’t mean much; if you do know me, it might be hard to imagine. It’s hard for me to imagine. I still have a recording on tape somewhere – it will never, ever be aired.

The B-side of this single is ‘Wrist Job’, which features some extraordinarily warm, beautiful Hammond organ swells, all Leslie-speakered up to the eyeballs. I love it. An old friend of mine in the mid-90s bought a Hammond organ with some Leslie speakers and installed it in his bedroom in our shared student house. Now, I can’t play the keyboard for toffee, but I can – and did – get countless hours of enjoyment warming up the ol’ Leslie valves and giving it some random chord thumping. Happy days!