Guide to British Music of the 1960s

November 2002

CD Review

Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers

 

One of the great things about 1960s music is that there were so many wonderful tracks may not have been huge hits but remain worthy of a listen even now in the 21t century. The advent of the CD has meant that so many wonderful sounds that disappeared for years are now available again, opening up the archives for bands who many had forgotten or never knew in the first place. This is like discovering rare gems. There are songs that certainly deserve a much wider audience and even artists who are well-known now making their first outings. Like the earlier Nuggetts II collection, Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers is an absolute treasure trove of frequently less-known music.

Again like Nuggetts II, Acid Drops has a mix of well-known tracks, well-known artists and the blatently obscure. What they have in common is they bring back great music so everyone can listen again or for the first time even. 

Disc One starts with Roger McGough and Mike McGear who were also in the Scaffold. So Much in Love sounds totally unlike the Scaffold with a heavier guitar overlain by harmony "psychedelic" vocals. the musician listing for this track is quite awesome: Jimi Hendrix, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, Zoot Money, Paul Samwell-Smith, Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding and Paul McCartney. Of course, McCartney and McGear are half brothers. Aquarian Age was an offshoot of Tomorrow and thus gain their place in rock history. Flower King of Flies features the electrifying organ sounds of Keith Emerson, later of Lake & Palmer fame. The Nice were initially signed to Immediate as PP Arnold's backing band but their fusion of pop and classical made them unique and, often, controversial. Witness their version of West Side Story's America. Rupert's People were covered by an earlier Making Time review. This is an interesting group that half existed or not as the case may be and whose career was briefly intertwined with Les Fleurs de Lys. Dream on my Mind is a superb track although it was only a b-side to A Prologue to a Magic World. Reputation from Shy Limbs is a further ELP link, not just the classical organ style of the intro but the unmistakable voice of Greg Lake. Tintern Abbey's Vacuum Cleaner is a British psychedelic classic. The song is driven by the steady drums and booming bass guitar. It's a pity there was no album from Tintern Abbey as this track promised so much. The David included James Griffin who was later to form Bread with David Gates. Listen out for the descending guitar during the chorus! The Misunderstood came from California but were managed by one John Peel!  Can Take You To The Sun is not as strong as Children of the Sun but is, nonetheless, a hypnotic track with hypnotic cymbal-backed verses and gentle guitar sounds leading into a louder and more explosive chorus. Towards the end acoustic guitar with a clear Spanish accent takes over. Grapefruit claim their place in rock history partly because they were one of the acts signed to the Beatles' Apple publishing. Procol Harum is one of the best-known acts on this disc. Shine on Brightly will introduce many to Procol Harum beyond A Whiter Shade of Pale. Perhaps the downside of making such a great track is that you are frequently only remembered for that one. Shine on Brightly is the title track of the second album. It retains the trademark organ sounds but it is Gary Booker's voice that claims this song. Bamboo Shoot is a real obscurity. The sleeve notes suggest, jokingly, that it could be a Small Faces outtake. To me it sounds more like a young Fergal Sharkey! The Who's Armenia City in the Sky is the opening track of The Who Sell Out. While this is not written by Pete Townshend, it is classic Who with weird guitar sounds showing the band trying to join the psychedelic carousel. Focus Three's 10,00 Years Behind My Mind features gritty vocals and a multi-vocal chorus. Timebox includes future Rutles drummer John Halsey. Meditations from Felius Andromeda sounds like a cross between White Shade of Pale and the Yardbirds' Still I'm Sad. The final track on the first disc is Warm Sounds' Nite is a Comin'. This includes backwards vocals, quite a thing at the time.

The second disc has a more "folky" feel in places. Kaleidoscope's Flight from Ashiya opens the disc. This sounds a bit like the Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd. It lacks the innocence of a Barrett song but should be enjoyed by Floyd aficionados. July's The Way was the work a band that turned from an R&B group to a psychedelic sounding group. The use of Indian instruments made a sound similar to the String Band in places but with Syd Barrett style guitar. The long lead-out brings the two types of sound together in a psychedelic collage. The Incredible String Band themselves are next. Witches Hat is one of the most accessible songs and is found on their top-selling album The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter. This is a typical Robin Williamson song with its lyrics child-like at times. Again a Barrett similarity. Robin's voice takes some getting used to but it truly hypnotic at times, not least on this track. Donovan was often seen as Britain's Bob Dylan but this does him a great dis-service. About all they had in common was the fact they were guitar-playing singer-songwriters. Celeste captures Donovan at his psychedelic best. Ramases and Selket will be unknown to almost everyone. Their story is somewhat sad but it is a nice track all the same. Shades of Orange by The End was produced by Bill Wyman but this is not a Stones sound-alike. Like much of this second disc, the sound is more Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Barclay James Harvest is one of several artists included whose track is an early example of their work in the psychedelic field and they later made a name as a progressive rock outfit. Monday Morning  by Tales of Justine is interesting as an early Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber production although they did not write the track. John Paul-Jones contributed the bass lines on this. This is a superb pop track and a pity that there was little more from this duo. Billy Nicholl's Girl from New York is one of the most powerful tracks on his Would You Believe album. This features blistering guitar work from  Steve Marriott and, with Jerry Shirley on drums, is a foretaste of Humble Pie. The Accent's Red Sky At Night was a single. The track is a mix of "black" lyrics against a powerful, heavy backing. Mick Softley was one of the stranger characters of the 1960s music scene. Am I The Red One came from a more folky direction. Starting with piano intro, the song builds with guitar and obscure lyrics. The result is an upbeat track. Laura's Garden from Orange Bicycle did not meet with chart success despite being championed on Radio 1. This is typical late 1960s English pop. Caleb's Baby Your Phrasing is Bad shows what can be done if you discovered a phaser for guitars and apply it to the vocals. Elton John may be playing on this track. Magician by Amazing Friendly Apple has opera-style vocals backed with a Hammond organ and harpsichord sound. This is an unusual track. The Moles were a step on from Simon Dupree & The Big Sound of Kites fame. It remains an interesting curio despite not having the appeal of Kites or even the later incarnation of Gentle Giant. 23rd Turnoff's Michael Angelo is dreamy with swirling musical backing and occasional brass. Bill Fay's Screams in the Ears is a piano based track that starts upbeat but becomes more somber when the vocals arrive.

Disc Three is the most commercial of the four featuring well-known brands such as the Small Faces, the Yardbirds and the Hollies. Granny Takes a Trip was naturally banned by the BBC for its drug connotations. This is an upbeat track with the unusual combination of piano, washboard and kazoo. The Smoke's My Friend Jack was banned for the same reason. The version here is with the shorter guitar intro. The longer version is better. The Idle Race are present with one of the rare gems of this compilation. Imposters of Life's Magazine was also on the Nuggets II compilation and begs the question about possible Idle Race releases. The Pretty Things' Talking About the Good Times comes from the SF Sorrow project that demands a wider listen. The beginning of this song does sound a little like the Hollies' On a Carousel but, apart from that, it is totally different. There is even a Beatles touch with the drums and a smorgasbord of instrumentation. Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man is one of his best-known tracks. Time Seller was the Spencer Davis Group after Steve and Muff Winwood had left. While this line-up did not enjoy the same commercial success, they were fairly prolific. This track even features Graham Nash on backing vocals. Denny Laine had found some fame with the Moody Blues' Go Now and was later to gain Wings with Paul McCartney. Say You Don't Mind did not have the success it deserved although it was later a solo hit for the Zombies' Colin Blunstone. The Move's superb I Can Hear The Grass Grow makes the listener wonder if they are referring to lawn maintenance or other forms of grass. This is a Roy Wood classic and was the Move's second single. The Kinks were also a controversial group with gay allegations that See My Friend did little to dispel. A rare delight included is Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's the LS Bumble Bee. They may be better known for their comedy but LS Bumble Bee is widely seen as a psychedelic classic! The Yardbirds' Happenings Ten Years Time Ago is one of the three tracks recorded with the Jimmy Page / Jeff Beck dual guitar line-up. While this is one of the band's most powerful tracks, it was less successful in the charts than the previous few singles. Nevertheless, it remains as powerful a guitar piece today as ever. Green Circles is one of the Small Faces concessions to psychedelia. It is a Ronnie Lane track from the second album. The Hollies were one of the country's top pop bands. By King Midas in Reverse Graham Nash was already starting to push the band into a more "serious, adult" direction. However, it did not do the trick. The Hollies returned to their pop songs and Nash headed off to California. David McWilliams is a classic track that was, surprisingly, not a hit in the UK (although Marc Almond did chart with it many years later.) It is an enchanting track with swirling strings around the chorus. The Herd's From the Underworld  was the first of three classic singles by the group headed by Peter Frampton. This is a moody track based on the opera Orpheus and the Underworld and was followed by Paradise Lost which also had a classical feel. However, the Herd never really made the big time before Frampton linked with Steve Marriott of the Small Faces to form Humble Pie and later "came alive." His post-Animals (original) career was patchy but there were some superb tracks recorded such as San Franciscan Night. However, Eric Burdon's Sky Pilot was one of his best solo tracks and was in the spirit of the (Vietnam) times. Paper Sun was one of Traffic first few singles. Steve Winwood had formed the group after leaving the Spencer Davis Group looking for a more adult and laid-back feel than the r&b of the previous group. Simon Dupree & the Bid Sound were also one hit wonders with the unique Kites

The fourth disc is Roundhouse Ghosts. The Attack's Colour of My Mind is the result of a brief career that promised much but they were beaten by Jeff Beck in having success with Hi-Ho Silver Lining. The band recorded three singles and almost released an album. Very little is known about Allen Pound although the track has been used to head freakbeat compilations. My Father's Name was Dad by Fire is another track that was also on Nuggetts II. This is a powerful pop track that may have fared better with a different title. The Orange Machine hailed from Ireland and had previously recorded a couple of Tomorrow tracks. Indeed, the band does sound somewhat like Tomorrow. The Penny Peeps' Model Village is another unusual track in its choice of subject matter but is a powerful pop track with driving guitar sounds. Much of this disc is taken up with bands that had short careers and consequently there is little to say about them but much to enjoy in their music. An exception to this is The Status Quo who are present with When My Mind is not Live. This was the b-side of the single Ice in the Sun. it has the same trademark guitar sounds as the a-side and the earlier Pictures of Matchstick Men. The Poets were signed to Immediate by Andrew Loog Oldham. Syd Barrett Octopus comes from his solo The Madcap Laughs album that was completed after he head left Pink Floyd. Both this and Barrett show glimpses of his rare talent but also show a musician who is disintegrating. Octopus was launched as a single. The Flies Steppin' Stone is a much heavier version of the Monkees' original, almost a Vanilla Fudge working of the great song. Tomorrow featured Steve Howe, later of Yes, and Keith West who was to have a massive hit with Excerpt from a Teenage Opera. Revolution is not the Beatles song but a psychedelic masterpiece that was released as a single. The Sorrows are best known for Take a Heart but You've Got What I Want deserves a listen. Its driving drums and piercing guitar sounds make it very different from Take a Heart

All in all, this collection may overlap with Nuggetts II for some tracks but it provides a large number of other tracks that are not available elsewhere. Essential for fans of late 1960s music. 

Essential Tracks:

  • The Yardbirds- Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
  • The Attack- Colours of My Mind
  • Tintern Abbey- Vacuum Cleaner

Track Listing:

Down to Middle Earth
  1. McGough & McGear- So Much in Love
  2. Aquarian Age- 10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box
  3. The Nice- Flower King of Flies
  4. Rupert's People- Dream on My Mind
  5. Shy Limbs- Reputation
  6. Tintern Abbey- Vacuum Cleaner
  7. The David- Light of Your Mind
  8. The Misunderstood- I Can Take You To The Sun
  9. Grapefruit- Dear Delilah
  10. Procul Harem- Shine on Brightly
  11. Bamboo Shoot- The Fox has Gone to Ground
  12. The Who- Armenia City in the Sky
  13. Focus Three- 10,000 Years Behind My Mind
  14. Timebox- Gone is the Sad Man
  15. World of Oz- Peter's Birthday
  16. Felius Andromeda- Meditations
  17. Warm Sounds- Nite is a Comin'

Gandalf's Garden

  1. Kaleidoscope- Flight from Ashiya
  2. July- The Way
  3. Incredible String Band- Witches Hat
  4. Donovan- Celeste
  5. Rameses & Selket- Mind's Eye
  6. The End- Shades of Orange
  7. The Virgin Sleep- Love
  8. Barclay James Harvest- Pools of Blue
  9. Tales of Justine- Monday Morning
  10. Billy Nicholls- Girl from New York
  11. The Accent- Red Sky At Night
  12. Mick Softley- Am I The Red One
  13. Orange Bicycle- Laura's Garden
  14. Caleb- Baby Your Phrasing is Bad
  15. Amazing Friendly Apple- Magician
  16. The Moles- We Are the Moles
  17. 23rd Turnoff- Michael Angelo
  18. Bill Fay- Screams in the Ears

Mushroom Soup

  1. The Purple Gang- Granny Takes a Trip
  2. The Smoke- My Friend Jack
  3. The Idle Race- Imposters in Life's Magazine
  4. The Pretty Things- Talkin' About the Good Times
  5. Donovan- Hurdy Gurdy Man
  6. Spencer Davis Group- Time Seller
  7. Denny Laine- Say You Don't Mind
  8. The Move- I Can Hear The Grass Grow
  9. The Kinks- See My Friend
  10. Peter Cook & Dudley Moore- The LS Bumble Bee
  11. The Yardbirds- Happening Ten Years Time Ago
  12. The Small Faces- Green Circles
  13. The Hollies- King Midas in Reverse
  14. David McWilliams- The Days of Pearly Spencer
  15. The Herd- From the Underworld
  16. Eric Burdon & The Animals- Sky Pilot
  17. Traffic- Paper Sun
  18. Simon Dupree & The Big Sound- Kites

Disc Four

  1. The Attack- Colours of My Mind
  2. Allen Pound's Get Rich- Searchin' in the Wilderness
  3. Fire- Father's Name is Dad
  4. The Orange Machine- Dr Crippen's Waiting Room
  5. Penny Peeps- Model Village
  6. The Fairytale- Run and Hide
  7. Mandrake Paddle Steamer- Strange Walking Man
  8. The Status Quo- When My Mind is Not Live
  9. The Poets- In Your Tower
  10. The Sands- Listen to the Sky
  11. Syd Barrett- Octopus
  12. The Apple- The Other Side
  13. The Flies- I'm Not Your Stepping Stone
  14. Herbal Mixture- Machines
  15. Tomorrow- Revolution (Phased version)
  16. The Sorrows- You've Got What I Want
  17. The Koobas- Royston Rose
  18. Sam Gopal- Escalator

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