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Psych In Black And White. Beatles-Lite (1968)

By the mid-1960s, however assiduously the mass media tried to swing like a pendulum do, they just did not get it (and they still don’t). OK, the Beatles were bigger than Jesus but did “Magical Mystery Tour” have to be so strange ? The Stones only made the newspapers when one of the members got busted or died. In 1966 the 2 major music programmes on commercial TV were scrapped, A year later offshore radio stations which played records 24/7 were made illegal. As youth culture moved through Mersey Mop Top to Mod to Marijuana it was left to the BBC, with the weekly “Top of the Pops” & the new Radio 1, to supply our musical rations. The Beeb assured us it was very exciting but really it wasn’t. Something was happening but you don’t know…you get me.

In 1968 if you did not make the Radio 1 playlist then you did not get heard. I have a vague memory of the Breakfast Show clown choosing VU’s “Who Loves The Sun” as a Record of the Week but I think I must have dreamed that. A generation of children who received a guitar for Xmas 1963 were ready to make some records by 1968. There were a lot of them & there was not a one who had not been influenced by those Beatles boys. There were few opportunities for them on UK screens but, lucky for us there was a little room for some of Pop’s new wave on French TV.

Blossom Toes made LPs on either side of 1968 but neither sold many. In between times the band covered a Dylan song & released “Postcard”, a hoped-to-be chartbound sound which just wasn’t enough of an ear worm to stand out in a very competitive market. It’s a lovely slice of melodic whimsy, more pop than psych, definitely more McCartney than Lennon. Between their baroque, hashish harmonies & the acid dissonance of the 2nd LP the Toes nailed it with “Postcard”. Enough of us remember it but not too many of us bought it & the band broke up. Guitarist Brian Godding had one more try at pop with B.B.Blunder before becoming a noted player of (Jah help us) jazz-fusion. The other one, Jim Cregan played with a who’s who of British rock. Family, Cockney Rebel, Rod Stewart. He also married singer Linda Lewis (left)…lucky, lucky,lucky.

Kaleidoscope are another band remembered as being on the psychedelic side of the street but listening to my favourite of their singles “Jenny Artichoke” I am hearing a good pop song. the band were on it in 1967 with a debut 45 “Flight From Ashiya” (see Nuggets II) causing a ripple. Now I really like these British Love generation reveries, not as abrasive as acid-rock nor as experimental as the folk pixies. from the reaction of my friends I know that I am in a minority but I’m sticking with this, it’s fun. The same line-up morphed into Fairfield Parlour & “progressive rock” making less of an impact than the original band. Here is Kaleidoscope in their Carnaby finery. The clip may be from 1967 & loosehandlebars, as you know, is all about context & the real nitty-gritty.

In 1968 out there was getting further out & there was an audience who had little interest in this magical mystery music. They wanted shiny, happy music like the Beatles used to make. Nothing wrong with that &, of course,  if there is a demand then the market will supply it. In the US there was the rise of “bubblegum”, groups who were cartoons like the Archies or almost cartoons like the Monkees. In the UK there were new teen groups happy to replace those bands now “getting it together in the country”. The Beatles were always able to straddle any divide but it’s a pity that this new breed of pop kids did not quite catch the ear of a bigger audience. A little too much artifice perhaps, good pop records did not always need to over-elaborate & keeping it simple has always been a thing.

Absolutely Beatlesque, Grapefruit signed to the Fab 4’s label Apple & were named after Yoko’s book by John Lennon. The group got plenty of publicity from this connection & seemed set to make a mark. The 1st LP “Around Grapefruit” was pretty much all released on 45, “Yes” is, I remember, a double A-side with “Elevator”. Grapefruit’s mainman was George Alexander (born Alexander Young) who had stayed behind when his family emigrated from the UK to Australia. His younger brother George returned as a member of the brilliant Easybeats while 2 other brothers were in the mega-successful AC/DC. A talented bunch.

If there were a couple of hits they are best described as minor then 1969’s LP “Deep Water” was less distinctive. Before the end of the decade the group, like the previous 2, were done. By 1970 the generation that followed the Beatles had a keyboard player in the band & were making prog-rock. The clips of these bands are in colour too. To finish here is Grapefruit, suited & booted but phasing & flanging with the best of the pop-psych bands with “Dear Delilah”

 

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About loosehandlebars

Experience has taught me wisdom, thank god I've got some life left I'm getting out of serfdom, my soul has stand the test. I need nothing to be a man because I was born a man and i deserve the right to live like any other man.

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