“We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that amongst these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness”.
Mojo Navigator, Issue 8, 1966
PINK FLOYD SCREAM THY LAST SCREAM
It’s only fitting that the first show of 2017 should start with a song that’s been waiting some 50 years for an official release. Scream Thy Last Scream, sung by Nick Mason, was supposed to be the follow up to 1967’s See Emily Play but was vetoed by the record company along with the equally dark Vegetable Man. Both tracks have been knocking around on various bootleg albums for years but this version was remixed in 2010 and finally saw official release on last years’ PINK FLOYD: THE EARLY YEARS 1965-1972 (which costs over $700 in NZ, by the way) so I’m guessing that this can pretty be considered the definitive version, should you want such a thing. Whilst not quite as harrowing as some reports have indicated over the years, it is, nevertheless, a glimpse into a psyche that was beginning to slowly fracture under the strain of coming up with another hit single; and otherwise so sonically out-there I’m not entirely sure what anyone would have made of it at the time. It sounds fantastic these days, though.
THE ROLLING STONES HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER, BABY, STANDING IN THE SHADOW?
Another track that was largely misunderstood at the time, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, was released in a period of white hot creativity by the Stones where they could hardly keep up with the explosive intensity of ideas, audience expectation and the forward momentum that compelled them ever forward in 1966. There had never really been a pop record like this before – the radio listener didn’t know what to make of the all-embracing sonic murk and uncompromising darkness of tone, and it wasn’t one for your taxi driver to hum along to, but this is an acid-informed trip of a single that shows the Stones at the height of their game.
THE PRETTY THINGS TALKIN’ ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES
1968 saw The Pretty Things at the height of their psychedelic peak and still no one was listening. Talkin' About the Good Times was originally penned for their fourth album, S.F. SORROW, an album with the dubious distinction of being considered the first rock concept album, but was instead released as a single in February 1968. It’s an unashamed lysergically-inspired pop gem featuring wonky orchestration, Strawberry Fields-ish drumming (courtesy of Twink from Mind De-Coder favourites Tomorrow), Beach Boys’ vocals, descending organs, Eastern instrumentation, a proto-heavy metal riff, a proper tune and such a sense of wonder at its own possibilities it shimmers with acid beauty.
THE YARDBIRDS SHAPE OF THINGS
I think Shapes Of Things is a pop statement, a moment in time when pop consciousness was expanding exponentially with, what Jon Savage, in his marvellous book 1966: THE YEAR THE DECADE EXPLODED, calls pop modernism at its height. With its monumentally fuzz-drenched instrumentation; its Eastern-sounding, feedback-laden guitar solo from Jeff Beck; and its socially conscious lyrics, the single was a thing of great beauty meant, according to Beck, to conjure up images in the mind of anyone who heard it.
THE ALIENS GLOVER
The Aliens debut album, ASTRONOMY FOR DOGS, released in 2007, is one I like to return to every now and then when I’m in the mood for inspired arrangements, flawless musicianship, expert self-production and kazoo's (you know, the usual); and each visit reveals something new. This time I found the very fine Glover, a song that sounds as if belongs on The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, if the village green in question was on the moon somewhere.
WOLF PEOPLE KINGFISHER
For their most recent release, RUINS, Wolf People have replaced their gentler acoustic pastoral sound with woodsy electric blues that puts one in mind of Battle of Evermore-era Zeppelin with a bit of Jethro Tull and Black Sabbath thrown in for good measure. Their vibe now is straight out of the early ‘70s, combining acid-folk bucolicism (entirely made-up word, I think – bucolicicitinessicity?) with a proto-metal-while-it-was-still-playing-around-with-being-prog feel that sounds tremendous, of course.
US AND THEM LATE NIGHT, EARLY MORNING
If forced to think about it at all, I’d expect current Scandinavian music to consist of a kind of vague cross between a-Ha, Ace of Bass, Abba, Max Martin and Runemagick, say. And yet, for reasons I’ve never been quite able to fathom, they have this pastoral acid-folk thing going on instead. Swedish duo Us and Them, for example, are very much at home to Sandy Denny, Donovan, Bert Jansch, Vashti Bunyan, Julia Dreams-era Pink Floyd, the Wicker man soundtrack and Pentangle, resulting in a couple of sun-dappled EP's for the very fine Fruits De Mer record label, and SUMMER GREEN AUTUMN BROWN, released in 2015, an album of such fragile beauty it threatens to float away like a dandelion seed.
HINTERMASS APPLE TREE
Hintermass is a collaboration between Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle and Tim Felton, formerly of Broadcast. Between them they create a sound that combines strong hauntological references and acid folk loveliness with a gorgeous pop sensibility, so they’re very nearly the perfect Mind De-Coder band. Apple Tree is the title track from their debut album, released in 2015, in which they mix exotic acoustic instrumentation, guitar, keyboards and percussion with electronic textures inspired by the likes of Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel. It is, as you might imagine, really quite lovely.
AMON DÜÜL II WIE DER WIND AM ENDE EINER STRABE
…and speaking of krautrock references, Amon Düül create an intoxicatingly spacious vibe on the fairly onomatopoeic Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strabe (The Wind at the End of the Road), taken from their last great album, WOLF CITY, released in 1972, on which blazing acid rock meets authentic eastern influences and schizophrenic prog light-heartedness. They were rarely this good again.
BILLY J KRAMER THE TOWN OF TUXLEY TOYMAKER (PART 1)
Billy J Kramer, previously of The Dakotas, didn’t shed a tear when Mersey Beat was transcended and otherwise swept away by The Beatles’ creative ambition and incandescent rise. Following a handful of hit Lennon/McCartney penned singles, he (frankly) jumped onto the psychedelic bandwagon they came to define with the very-nearly-novelty toytown charm of The Town of Tuxley Toymaker (pt. 1), presented to him by The Bee Gees in 1967. The Gibb brothers actually feature on backing vocals, but his days of troubling the charts were now behind him.
Malachai were, or possibly still are, a Jeff Barrow endorsed duo who seem to have created their debut album, THE UGLY SIDE OF LOVE, released in 2010, from samples gathered from a dusty crate of charity shop vinyl, circa 1973. Their sound is a mix of beats and samples, drawing on a wide range of influences from BBC Radiophonic-type experimentalism through golden-era Hip-Hop to 1960s psych-pop all gleefully thrown into the blender to see what emerges. Snakecharmer, in particular, is a hodgepodge of backwards tape loops, vocal phasing, and Eastern vibes that sounds both throwaway and marvellous in equal measure.
DIANA ROSS AND THE SUPREMES REFLECTIONS
Reflections is the sound of Motown going psychedelic with the single that found singer Diana Ross re-positioning The Supremes as her backing band following the brutal firing of Florence Ballard from the group. It also marks one of the last compositions by the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland before their own departure from the Motown label, the result of a dispute over the sordid subject of royalty payments or something; but none of that should distract from the fact that Reflections, released in the summer of 1967, is a gorgeous slice of psyche-pop soul that shimmers like a strawberry flavoured flashback.
SHINY JOE RYAN THE COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND PT. 2
In the insanely nepotistic world of Australian psych-pop, Shiny Joe Ryan is the founding mainstay multi-instrumentalist and guitarist of Pond as well as providing visuals for fellow Australian band, Tame Impala. In 2014 he released his debut solo album THE COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND, but that being said, that’s Pond’s Nick Allbrook on drums and it was mastered by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. As you might expect, it’s all sun-soaked catchy hooks, fuzzy rhythms and experimental sonic textures which, while never quite reaching the giddy heights of those two bands, manages to capture the essence of album’s title in all its radiant glory.
Dr. Dan Snaith (he has a Phd. in mathematics) is a bedroom producer of dense, lysergic psych-pop but, crucially, his albums never sound like the work of an obsessive loner. His 2007 release, ANDORRA, is a spacey mix of gorgeous, kaleidoscopically layered psychedelia that puts one in mind of The Zombies, The Free Design, The Mamas & Papas, The Beach Boys and, at least somewhere in the mix, My Bloody Valentine, as may be heard in the cacophonous sonic assault at the end of Eli.
WILBURN BURCHETTE PIERCING THE PSYCHIC HEART
In truth, Wilburn Burchette has been all over the show – I’ve used the segments from his 1972 release, WILBURN BURCHETTE OPENS THE GATES OF TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS, as a musical ‘bed’ (radio presenter speak) above which performance artist, painter and assemblagist Allan Kaprow has been reading out tips from side 1 of his spoken word album HOW TO MAKE A HAPPENING, released in 1966. Burchette (Wil, to his friends, ‘Master’ to his disciples) was an occult-musician who made quite the career from this sort of thing and rather hoped that listening to his music might expand the listener's mind in positive ways, and bring the soul and body into a state of enlightenment. Rather disappointingly, the music from the promisingly named album didn’t really open the gates of transcendental consciousness as much as I hoped they would. Piercing The Psychic Heart, however, is really quite lovely and I decided to play all of it.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS PEOPLE’S GAMES
I’m not entirely sure just how committed Circus Maximus were to the whole psychedelic scene. They were originally called Lost Sea Dreamers but were made to change their name by their record company as the initials LSD were synonymous with the prevalent hippy drug culture. Nevertheless, their occasionally inspired mix of folk, rock and jazz put them at least in the same ballpark of Country Joe and the Fish, even though they weren’t quite as good. That being said, People’s Games, taken from their eponymous debut album, released in 1967, has been bouncing around in my head for months now and I thought it was time to get it out there in the world.
KING CRIMSON FORMENTERA LADY
King Crimson’s fourth album, ISLANDS, released 1971, has never been as critically regarded as LARKS TONGUE IN ASPIC, say, or IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, but I’ve always had a soft spot for its opening track, Formentera Lady. Keith Tippet's ethereal piano illuminates some romantic classicism to the opening, as does the very pretty use of mellotron and flute, not to mention the occasional chime (and, really, who could ask for more?), but it doesn’t really go anywhere and nothing much happens for 10 minutes or so, but that’s alright because I quite like it when nothing much happens for 10 minutes or so; it could happen a lot more often, as far as I’m concerned.
CHILDREN OF ALICE RITE OF THE MAYPOLE: AN UNRULY PROCESSION
I understand that this track will feature on the forthcoming debut album, out very shortly, but this is how it sounds on the tape cassette only release, CALENDAR CUSTOMS VOL. II: MERRY MAY, made available in 2012, by the very fine Folklore Tapes, an open-ended research project that explores the vernacular arcana of Great Britain, and beyond, by traversing the myths, mysteries, magic and strange phenomena of the old counties via abstracted musical reinterpretation and experimental visuals, which is pretty much what you get on this track. Each cassette features a hand-numbered and stamped screen printed sleeve and includes a research booklet and an essay by someone who goes by the name of Jez Winship (so you might not have necessarily heard it before). Children of Alice are, of course, ex-Broadcast compatriots James Cargill and Roj Stevens with Julian House, Ghost Box co-founder, graphic designer and the man behind The Focus Group (with whom Broadcast collaborated on the Mind De-Coder favourite BROADCAST AND THE FOCUS GROUP INVESTIGATE WITCH CULTS OF THE RADIO AGE). I’m very excited about the forthcoming album, me.
EDWARD PENFOLD SUNNY DAY
There’s a discreet hauntological touch to Edward Penfold’s acid-tinged folk-pop; yes, the spirit Syd Barret is present, as is that of Bill Fay and The Kinks, but his debut album, CAULKHEAD, released last year, was recorded on an old 80s Boots brand single track tape machine which gives it a uniquely warm and heavily compressed sound all of its own. CAULKHEAD is the name that residents from the Isle of Wight use to refer to themselves, apparently, but the album was recorded by Penfold, who was born on the Isle of Wight, with the members of a about four bands he seems to be a member of in Bristol. It’s a hazy collection of sounds and moods which combines folky ballads, lush, drawn out instrumentals and 60s garage tunes, like Sunny Day, wrapped up with eloquently English observations about the mundanity of modern life and the profound which is to be found within it..
THORSTEN SCHMIDT HEREFORD AWAKES MAIN TITLE
A bit of filler lasting no more than 60 seconds or so, but quality filler nevertheless. Some of you might remember a little known five-part ITV children’s drama called HEREFORD WAKES, originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Harlech Television based in Wales. Set in a village outside Hereford the story follows the preparations for the annual Wakes event but dark forces are unleashed when the organisers decide to build a ‘Witch’s Hat’ ride on an ancient burial mound.
A much-missed Roy Kinnear plays Mayor Hamilton who wants the Wakes event to go ahead in spite of warnings from local newspaper reporter Jane Meadows whilst young white witch Heddwen and visiting archaeologist Robbie Duggan also attempt to avert disaster. Similar in tone to Children of The Stones, spooky goings on entail.
If this doesn’t actually ring any bells at all, the series' obscurity is explained by the popularity of the 1972 Munich Olympics being shown on the BBC at the time and the fact that a Welsh Nationalist transmission engineer deliberately confined the broadcast of the first episode of the show to Wales only, failing to perform the switch required and thus enabling the Welsh language programme ‘Ffalabalam’ to be shown on the nationwide ITV network instead whilst ‘Hereford Wakes’ was shown only in Wales, thus ensuring the show sank into obscurity.
I like the whole spooky acoustic/synthesiser thing that holidaying German composer Thorsten Schmidt brought to the score. It’s very portentous.
THE SOUNDCARRIERS THIS IS NORMAL
For a band very much at home to a quintessential English psychedelia, 60s style exotica and vintage Gallic pop, The Soundcarriers invoke their inner Can on the pulsing, probing, VU-meets-Eno-driven closer This Is Normal, taken from their third album, ENTROPICALIA, released in 2014 by the Ghostbox record label. The song features an extended, jazz-infected freak-out which includes the surprising inclusion of Elijah Wood talking the listener through a mathematically guided trip over a mesmerizing groove. Fantastic.
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The show also makes use of three albums throughout which are worth a few moments of your time.
All of that going on about having a happening and what not is provided by Allan Kaprow taken from side 1 of his spoken word album HOW TO MAKE A HAPPENING, released in 1966. Kaprow was an American painter, assemblagist, a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art and otherwise a pivotal figure in the shifting art world of the 1960s.
Whilst that’s going on I played him over the music of WILBURN BURCHETTE OPENS THE SEVEN GATES OF TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS, released in 1972 (see above), and excerpts from a 17 minute promo put together by the Ian Hodgson to promote his 2016 release WHEN A NEW TRICK COMES OUT I DO AN OLD ONE, an epic 3CD set celebrating 10 years of Moon Wiring Club via 66 tracks of unreleased, archive and obscure tracks.