The late 1960s was a wonderful time for the British music
industry with many new bands emerging. While many went on to
national and worldwide stardom, others were less successful
commercially but, nevertheless, made excellent records which
have stood the test of time. Kaleidoscope is one of these
bands. They released a string of "British psychedelia" singles
between 1967 and 1969. Flight from Ashiya had been a
major hit on pirate radio and the record company had enough
faith in the band and the songwriters Peter Daltrey and Eddie
Pumer to extend their contracts. All of the tracks on this
release are original compositions. Two LPs followed before the
band changed their name and became Fairfield Parlour in
1970. Unusually, the group performed under four different names
from 1964 to 1971 with no changes in personnel.
This is classic British psychedelia with complex tunes and lyrics while
remaining eminently pleasant and easily listenable. The final track is actually
an early demo from the pre-Kaleidoscope Sidekicks. This was the
same line-up but the track has a much different style. The music stands up very
well alongside other classic albums of the time from bands such as Nirvana's
Story of Simon Simopath and even Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
The group also looked the part with their "dandy" psychedelic clothing and Eddie
Pumer's painted guitar.
The Sidekicks' demo of What Can I Do is rough as would be
expected but this shows a sign of what was to come several years later as Eddie
Pumer's chord-based guitar break is different to what may have been more usual for the time.
The band was arguably at its best during the Kaleidoscope period.
Flight from Ashiya, the debut single, is a wonderful track with wispy,
dreamy guitar and an unusual storyline about a plane crash. (Love Song) for
Annie) also stands out as a much heavier track but which is interspersed
with a quieter, reflective chorus.
Snapdragon is more up-tempo and the acoustic guitar and swirling
vocals give it a quite different feel. Music often closed their live
shows and became a fan's favourite as the band tried to demolish the stage
during the number. The track turned up on the band's second album Faintly
Kaleidoscope were very popular at the BBC with many sessions completed
for radio. Record company Fontana also maintained interest in and support for
the band and the group toured extensively but, despite this, the group had
little commercial impact. However, as these tracks show, the music of
Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour remains relevant and makes a great
listen. The fact that the tracks are not presented in chronological order does
not matter in this case as there is a fairly consistent sound across the work.
The DVD is particularly interesting for the rare footage of the band with two
Kaleidoscope tracks on French TV and a quite different Fairfield
Parlour. Holiday Maker was the b-side of Flight from
Ashiya. The second part of the DVD consists of Dive into Yesterday
from a 2017 reunion concert.
While Kaleidoscope will be unknown to many, this is an excellent
document of a wonderful British band and deserves a wider audience.
Beyond Before BB114
Release Date:19 March 2021
- Faintly Blowing
- Flight From Ashiya