Guide to British Music of the 1960s

February 2021

CD Review: Kaleidoscope & Fairfield Parlour - Sky Children, The Best Of

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 Blowing.

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

Essential Tracks

  • Faintly Blowing
  • Flight From Ashiya
  • Snapdragon

Track Listing:

Audio

  1. Faintly Blowing
  2. In My Box
  3. (Love Song) For Annie
  4. Flight From Ashiya
  5. Long Way Down
  6. A Dream for Julie
  7. (Further Reflections) In the Room of Percussion
  8. Emily
  9. Snapdragon
  10. Bordeaux Rose
  11. Nursey, Nursey
  12. Do It Again for Jefrrey
  13. Kaleidoscope
  14. Diary Song: The Indian Head
  15. Music
  16. The Sky Children
  17. What Can I Do (Demo, 1964)

DVD

  1. Flight From Ashiya
  2. Interview
  3. Holiday Maker
  4. Free
  5. Emily
  6. Sunny Side Circus
  7. Dive Into Yesterday
  8. Music

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