Lullabies For Catatonics. British Avant-Pop/Art Rock Scene 1967-74 Disc 3: “The Wind Sings Winter Songs”

released 2020, recorded 1967-1974

I’ve finally got around to listening to Disc 3 of this box set from Grapefruit Records which celebrates the weird British music that was inspired by “Rain” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles in 1966.

Track 1 “Welcome For A soldier” by Deep Feeling. Inspired by King crimson and Yes, this band from Leytonstone sound heavily influenced by “Smile” even though it wasn’t released in 1971. This is not easy listening.

Track 2 “Can I See You” by Open Road. A lovely tuneful song from an unreleased album by Open Road. The band was put together to back Donovan on his 1970 album, “Open Road” and they used this experience as a springboard to form a band.

Track 3 “O Caroline” by Matching Mole. Robert Wyatt had just left Soft Machine. A French translation of “Soft Machine” is “Machine Molle” so he thought it would be amusing to name his new band “Matching Mole”. Also in Matching Mole were Phil Miller who went on to join Hatfield And The North and Dave Sinclair who had just quit Caravan. If you don’t mind Robert Wyatt’s weedy tuneless voice, this is lovely.

Track 4 “Unhinged” by 9.30 Fly. Despite appearing at The Pig Market in Leigh and The Station Hotel in Workington, this band split after just one album. James Honeyman-Scott was just 15 at the time and he later went on to be the highly regarded lead guitarist with The Pretenders before his death (due to “cocaine intolerance”), aged 25, in 1982. When The Pretenders were playing a gig in Milwaukee, Jimmy Scott, as he was know, saw The Violent Femmes busking on the street and he was so taken with them that he urged Chrissie Hynde to let them play a brief acoustic set before The Pretenders appeared. This was The Violent Femmes’ big break. “Unhinged” is a good slow-paced rambling song.

Track 5 “The Machine Grinds On” by Gnome Sweet Gnome. Yet another product of an art college (in this case Ealing), Gnome Sweet Gnome recorded two albums, neither of which got released. This is a humourous, jaunty if bitty song.

Track 6 “No More Sunshine Till May” by As You Like It. Another band who recorded two albums, neither of which was released. Laurence Juber was a member of As You Like It for a short while and subsequently he went on to be a member of Wings. The organ solo on this song is worthy of Keith Emerson.

Track 7 “A Winter’s Tale” by Jade Warrior. The opening track from Jade Warrior’s third album is a lovely, atmospheric relief after the pomp and prog of the previous track.

Track 8 “C. F. D. T. (Colonel Frights’ Dancing Terrapins)” by Bond & Brown. Graham Bond had been a member of Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated before forming The Graham Bond Organisation. Pete brown had been the lyricist for Cream before forming Pete brown’s Battered Ornaments. This is a rather heavy song. If Robert Smith had been producing, he would have approved the guitar sound because it’s horrible.

Track 9 “Ship” by Gnidrolog. The band’s name is nearly an anagram of Goldring and they were led by brothers Colin and Stewart Goldring. This is an intense, serious progressive song.

Track 10 “Anvils In Five” by Rupert Hine. Folk duo Rupert and David consisted of David MacIver-Robinson and Rupert Hine, who produced a single by Jon Pertwee called “Who Is The Doctor”. They later went on to make “The Lone Ranger”, a Top 5 single in 1979, credited to Quantum Jump. Rupert Hine went on to produce albums by Kevin Ayers, Rush, Tina Turner, Bob Geldof and many others. The album “Unfinished Picture” was marketed by their record company with the tag “Why the hell should I buy a record I don’t like?” Whether the poor sales reflected a success or failure of their strategy is a moot point.

Track 11 “Upon Composition” by Ron Geesin. Having worked with Pete Townsend, The Third Ear Band and Bridget St. John, Ron Geesin made an extensive contribution to the title track “Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd. This is described as an electro-melodic sound painting.

Track 12 “Growing Up And I’m Fine” by Mick Ronson. This song was written by David Bowie and sounds like it could have come from “Hunky Dory”. It’s excellent and my favourite track on this disc.

Track 13 “Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape” by Be-Bop Deluxe. Another excellent song towards the end of a rather unlikeable disc, the sleevenotes describe this song as “pitched somewhere between the voguish glam-rock sound and guitarist Bill Nelson’s prog-rock apprenticeship“. The video below was made in 2012, 38 years after the original.

Track 14 “Somewhere In Hollywood” by 10cc. Artistic peak or commercial peak? Take your pick. 1975’s “I’m Not In Love” from “The original Soundtrack” was a commercial smash but 1974’s “Sheet Music” is considered by many critics to be superior. Graham Gouldman claims that 10cc took The Beatles to a new direction. Hmmmm.

Track 15 “Mother Russia” by Renaissance. “Kings And Queens” from their first album is one of my all time favourite underground songs. The band was formed by Keith Relf and Jim McCarty from The Yardbirds but they had left the band by the time their fifth album was released. This song features singer Annie Haslam and pianist John Tout (from Rupert’s People who would go on to play piano on John Lennon’s “Crippled Inside”). This is a lengthy dramatic song.

I have normally listened to an album before I write about it but in the case of all three discs from this box set, I have written about it whilst listening to the tracks for the first time. I normally try to enthuse about the music but, I have to admit that I have found it difficult in this case apart from the last four songs. Hey Ho.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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