=  September 2010  =

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Written by:

The Chemistry Set

Phil McMullen

Streets on Fire

Ian Fraser

V/A - A Phase We're Going Through

Simon Lewis (Editor)

Hausfrauen Experiment
  V/A Psychedelica 4
  Terrapin Pond



(CD on Hypnote )


It is with great delight that Terrascope can announce the release of a brand new album by The Chemistry Set. 'This Day Will Never Happen Again' (Hypnote), which will be released worldwide in October but is already available in France and Spain on Dead Bees Records www.deadbees.com, is a collection of mostly mainstays Paul Lake and David Mclean compositions  except for three covers, including Jagger/Richard’s “We Love You” and Del Shannon’s “Silver Birch”. As you might expect this is top-notch psychedelic pop, so good in fact it could pretty much all have been culled from the excellent “Chocolate Soup” compilation were it not for the fact that these are no mere 60s retreads but excellent songs in their own right that betray Lake and Mclean’s unerring sensibility for thoroughly cracking tunes. Out of the starting blocks, “El Roturno” is how Chris Isaak should have sounded like in his heyday and sets the deliciously high standard for what follows. “She’s Taking Me Down” is the pinnacle of this astonishingly good collection, but “Seeing Upside Down”, “Look Into The Sky” and “If Rome Was Meant To Fall” all give it a damn good run for the gold medal. And there’s any number of others that could lay claim to the title of best in class if I’m honest.


There is a perceptible shift in style during the bonus tracks as The Chemistry Set wheel out their Catalan Connections (they are practically Anglo-Spaniards these days) and whilst the appeal of these is perhaps not as immediate a subsequent listen or two soon banishes any notion that they might represent an inferior tailing off of quality. It is absolutely criminal that two men this talented aren’t household names and living in the lap of luxury. To help rectify this you should all go out and buy this (or sit at home and point and click at the screen) the moment it comes to your neck of the wood. Seriously good stuff, then, and let’s hope that, in choosing the album title, the boys are being unnecessarily pessimistic and that lightning will strike for them again. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from www.thestreetsonfire.com www.myspace.com/thestreetsonfire )


The ironically titled “This is Fancy” by Chicago’s The Streets on Fire takes 60s garage punk, shakes it up with some angular Talking Heads and a measure of Franz Ferdinand, gives it all a savage twist and works it into a lo-fi fuzz-ball of high octane, mashed up dancehall mosh. Add to that a singer named Chadwick who sounds like he’s clawing at the walls of the panic room with just a fuzz-tone microphone to save him and what you end up with is a very agreeable noise indeed. Tunes such as “No One’s Fucking to the Radio”, “The Basement” and “Chadwick Shut-Up” post a pretty direct statement of intent that is the very antithesis of the album title. Slow it down just a tad and get it nice and moody and you get the cloying menace of “Hey Lou” and the desperately stalking “Hello from Eastern Europe”. Best of all though is the unhinged “Astronaut Love Triangle” on which Chadwick sounds like David Eugene Edwards might, were he to ever take a sharp left turn off the path of righteousness. Eleven tracks clocking in at 33 minutes suggests that there is very little waste here and that’s true enough. On first hearing this I had one small criticism which was that the album seemed to peak too early as a result of which there appeared to tread a bit of water towards the end. A subsequent listen reveals why every good album deserves at least two visits, but then this is more than just a good album - it really does impress from start to finish. Not only that but you just know that The Streets on Fire are going to be a live act you’d be loathe to miss. Catch them if you can, but in the meantime if you like your music short, loud and scuzzy and you only buy one album this month, then look no further. (Ian Fraser)




(12” colour vinyl album from Fruits de Mer Records)
(2 x 7”vinyl EP from Fruits de Mer Records www.fruitsdemerrecords.com)


Here are a couple of real highs, courtesy of the very fine Fruits de Mer Records from Waltham-on-Thames, a small but perfectly formed vinyl-only label (though mercifully for your vinyl-free reviewer they provide promo-CDs).


“Volume 11: A Phase We’re Going Through” deviates from the usual script in that this is the Fruits’ first album and features 11 new versions of mostly late 60s psychedelic mini-classics by new acts such as the always excellent The Luck of Eden Kane (covering The Monkees’ “Love Is Only Sleeping”) The Swims (doing justice to July’s “My Clown”), the Chemistry Set’s take on Del Shannon’s “Silver Birch” (also featured on their new album reviewed in this month’s Rumbles) and a far-out “Little Wing” by Cranium Pie, all of which feature on the promo CD sent hither. These four are all cracking versions soaked exquisitely in phase and flange that whet’s the appetite for the rest of the album, sadly not available on the promo. What we do get is a 6 minute mix of excerpts of all 11 tracks including homage to Pink Floyd (“Point Me At The Sky”) and Jefferson Airplane (”Plastic Fantastic Lover”) as well as lesser known acts such as Caleb and Clouds, which as you might imagine is bitty but infinitely preferably to anything Jive Bunny ever inflicted on us. Full marks to the Fruits for avoiding the obvious and the over-mined from the era – this is a thoughtful miscellany of curios and delights for your delectation. Groove on this!


By contrast “Volume 12: The Hausfrauen Experiment” is a 2 x 7” vinyl release courtesy of them crazy Hausfrauens, namely Tracy, Vyolette and Lisa (who hail from the UK and not, as might be supposed, from Germany). “Volume 12…” comprises of four magnificently playful retro/futuristic synth based reinterpretations of songs by Silver Apples (“Oscillations”), Hawkwind (“Spirit of the Age”), Eno (“Baby’s On Fire”) and Cockney Rebel (“Sebastian”). The Eno one is, if push came to shove, my favourite but the others are all excellent as well. If you can imagine a tasteful and tasty electro-stew of Kraftwerk, Death in Vegas and the Flying Lizards imaginatively as interpreted by French and Saunders and performed by mischievous sweethearts then not only does your imagination do you credit but you’re already half way to liking this somewhat atypical release from the usually psych-fixated Fruits people. Here, then, is a precious little offering hugely deserving of your love and attention. It certainly reduced me to a grinning fool. More please.  (Ian Fraser)



(CDs from www.airmailrecordings.com)


The Japanese reissues of revered 1970s rockers Hookfoot’s four albums, plus the previously unreleased collection of early recordings ‘A Piece of Pye’, are not exactly easy to get hold of – but oh, my goodness do they ever repay your investment of time, money and effort with rich rewards.


The band’s four albums, listed above in chronological order beginning with their 1971 self-titled debut and closing with their hard to find 1973 swansong collection ‘Roaring’, are all padded out with additional recordings that date from around the same time as each release. The die-hard fan (and there must be another one out there somewhere!) will probably have all the extra songs as they each appeared in 1975 on the posthumous Hookfoot double LP compilation ‘Headlines’: a cover of Stephen Stills’ ‘Bluebird’ on ‘Hookfoot’, the Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ on ‘Good Times a’ Comin’’, James Taylor’s ‘Fire & Rain’ on ‘Communication’ (for my money the band’s strongest album overall) and the Byrds’ ‘So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star’ on ‘Roaring’.


Other, earlier, songs from ‘Headlines’ also appear on the ‘A Piece of Pye’ collection: the bluesy filler ‘S.B.W.’ [Sonny Boy Williamson] and the guitar heroics tour-de-force jamthat is ‘Shoeshine Boy’ – oh, dear Lord how well I remember that one blowing my socks off when I first heard it as a teenager! The remaining material on ‘A Piece of Pye’ was completely new to me – early recordings by the sound of it, all of them credited to guitarist Caleb Quaye, and sadly none of them with the possible exception of ‘You Better Get On’, a showcase bluesy groover that sounds like it might’ve been the highlight of their live set at the time, up to the standard of the stunning ‘The Way of the Musician’ debut 45 released on Page One in France which unfortunately remains un-re-released to this day. It’s must be a contender for some future late 60s compilation, surely, just as Caleb Quaye's 'Baby Your Phasing is Bad' recorded immediately pre-Hookfoot is a something of a staple requirement.


There's a fair bit of other un-re-released still languishing on 'B' sides of various singles as well, including 'Heart to Heart Talking', 'Red Man', 'Freedom (Nobody's Shoes), 'Hookfoot' (the song the band became named after, apparently due to drummer Roger Pope's habit of hooking his wayward kit back towards him while playing) and 'The Opener' (original B-side of 'Sweet Sweet Funky Music' from Good Times a' Comin'). Plus, the live album that I must confess had a hand in releasing via the SPM label in Germany back in the early 1990s is also overdue for some reissue attention.


None of this detracts however from the superb quality of these reissues. The covers are exact, detailed reproductions of the originals in miniature, right down to - get this - the dimpled card stock used on original copies of the first two Hookfoot LPs. Even the title sticker on the 'Communication' album is an actual piece of paper pasted on top of the Rizla packet lettering, again as it was on the original - later reissues didn't have this, and as it was hand-done every one is in a slightly different place, or sometimes at a different angle. The 'Piece of Pye' album also includes some liner notes by Caleb Quaye himself, which is a really nice touch.


Seriously, if I had unlimited funds I'd seek to replace every CD in my collection with one of these Japanese paper sleeve reissues! I notice this is already Vol. 69 in the "British Legends" series so I've got some serious digging ahead of me it seems. More on the mighty Hookfoot meanwhile can be read in our feature on the band from a while back: Hookfoot (Phil McMullen)




(2XCD from www.northernstarrecords.co.uk)


Since their inception in 2006, Northern Star has attempted to introduce new psychedelia to the masses, both through their on-line store and through their excellent compilation series which has now reached part 4, a massive double disc brimming with quality.

    Opening disc one with some  repetitive psych-heavy  riffing, Singapore Sling drive things forward with the pulsating joy of “Godman”, encouraging the listener to nudge the volume up before The Dolly Rocker Movement, get all 60's garage on us with the sonic vibrations of “Mystery Man”. Lovers of janglier paisley psych are also well served with The Medicine grooving nicely on “Send the Rain” the track followed beautifully by The High Dials, whose “Space Hobo” shimmers like a mirage, swamped in reverb and sounding brilliant. So, four songs in, each different from the last and each excellent in its own right, which pretty much sums up this compilation, varied, yet containing a vein of psychedelia that ties it together, as well as maintaining the excellence throughout.

    Dive further into disc one, and some real gems shine out and personal favourites start to emerge, with tracks by Youngteam, Hopewell, Arrows of Love, The Greencoats, and Nelson Bragg all deserving of another listen, whilst Capsula  are given special mention for the frenzied garage attack of “Found and Lost”.

   Finally, after nineteen tracks disc one draws to a close with the excellent The Stevenson Ranch Davidians , the swirling sound of “The Truth Shall Set You Free” the perfect end to a near perfect disc.

      Undoubtedly lodged on the more commercial side of modern psych, (which is reasonable as they are hoping to sell some music and there are plenty of small labels dealing with more out-there, avante-garde, and plain noisy music), the bands on the album sometimes drift into Shoegaze, Indie, and Pop territory. However, within the context of the album they sound fine and fit in beautifully, each also containing at least a pinch of psych, depending on your definition, of course. Definitely containing at least a pinch of Shoegaze, 93millionmilesfromthesun, kick off disc two with majestic style,  a soaring guitar sound creating a wave of melodic noise that engulfs the room with blissed out happiness, the mood continued in a more soft-focus way as  The Domino State surf the clouds with the lovely “Firefly”. With a building crescendo of feedback White Noise sound announce the arrival of “Blood”, a suitably down and dirty riff, getting your head nodding, the volume nudged up again, and staying up as the magnificent The December Sound display their skills on “Painkiller”, a retro-free slice of modern psych that floats my boat indeed.

     As with disc one, there isn't a duff track on here, each track a surprise and a treat for the ears, the perfect selection for a long drive, a rainy sunday or, indeed, any other time, with personal favourites coming from The Butterfly Explosion, Sennen, eat Lights become Lights and Maribel, whilst the ambient electronic swirl of Perfect Blue is yet another strand of psychedelia that sounds sweet to my ears. To finish off he final two track by Joensuu1685 and The Voices are noisier and less commercial than anything else on the album, with the former packing a huge sonic punch that leaves you breathless.

      Anyone with an interest in how psychedelia is perceived, has developed, and maybe, where it is headed should certainly check out this compilation, hats off to Northern Star for a mighty fine body of work. (Simon Lewis)





(CD from www.gardengaterecords.com)


Anyone seeing the name of this band and album would be forgiven for thinking there may be a slight Grateful Dead influence going on in their music. One Listen to “A Call to Arms”, the opening song , would only confirm this idea, the vocal delivery in particular reminding you of early seventies Dead, the appearance of banjos and a floating solo only strengthening the feeling, although you will also find yourself singing along to a rather fine tune as well, not really caring who else it sounds like, especially as the following song removes your original thoughts, being a beautifully constructed and executed tune that reminds me of the little known Apothecary Hymn, whose album “Trowel and Era” is a personal fave. It seems like a good idea from the band to wear their influences on the opening song, getting the obvious comparisons out of the way early on, allowing the listener, to spend the rest of the disc bathing in some delightful psych/folk/country/americana, which, although reminding you of the whole late 60's/early 70's, let's go live in the country vibe, is also fresh, exciting and frankly beautiful.


All this is not really surprising when you consider that the album was written, produced, mixed and engineered by Craig Morris, a man responsible (Along with Robert Schneider)) for the excellent Garage/Psych band Thee American Revolution, whose “Buddha Electrostorm” album was a brilliant collection definitely worthy of your time. Here, Craig is joined by multi instrumentalists, Jason and Justin Mckendree (banjo, mandolin, lap steel, cello, keys), plus drummer Brandon Gillham, and a handful of guest, the whole album ringing with charm, perfect playing and strong songwriting that will have you reaching for the repeat button.

In an album of strong ideas, two songs sum it up for me, with the gorgeous “Great White North”, tugging the heart strings with its slow grace and beautiful vocal line, whilst the following “The Face of the moon”, is coated with the spirit of Kaleidoscope (US), a chiming song that features some wonderful playing and another memorable tune. Of course, music being personal, each listener will have their own favourites, the only certainty being that you will fall in love with this fine piece of work, an autumnal collection that will become a much loved favourite, indeed, by the time the wistful “Among These Hills” rolls around, the cares of the modern world will have floated away and you will feel the need for a country walk, or a potter around the garden. (Simon Lewis)