Friday, February 12, 2010
Typer At The Gates Of Dawn
Honored to bring this edition of Typer to you this month because -like previous Typers, we've snagged a true music (and psych') obsessed biped of the Highest Order:
Eric Colin Reidelberger, DJ extraordinaire & writer of much note in the pages of both Shindig! and the Galactic Zoo Dossier, (for mutual friend, Plastic Crimewave.)I could go on (and on) with hyperbole but suffice to say we're damnably stoked, chuffed some would say, to get his talent.
So.., you know the premise by now: a paean to a little-known, perhaps underappreciated work of psychedelia. Here now, for your edification is Eric's own contribution.
SECOND HAND – REALITY (Polydor 1968)
When Valis asked me to contribute to this blog, I was understandably excited, however
faced with the arduous task of picking my favorite psychedelic album to write about, it’s a wonder I still have all my hair!
I have many Psychedelic masterpieces that I count amongst my favorites but I eschewed the Piper’s, Sorrow’s & Sardonicus’ for a lesser known gem that I’ve always gone back to…. time and time again.
The year is 1968 and the members of The Moving Finger are forced to change their name yet again (as they had done once before this). They settle on the moniker of Secondhand and proceed to record an incredibly dense, personal and remarkably mature Psychedelic record (the band was still in their teens at this point), which veers from pop-sike to mellotron washed pre-progressive sounds with lashings of Cream/Hendrix psychedelic muscle.
Courted by Apple at the time and only the band and maybe Derek Taylor knows why this didn’t come to fruition, but that’s neither here nor there.
It’s time to put your wellies on and trudge deep back into the mists of time where men were sometimes teenagers who recorded great works of art.
That is precisely what Reality is and a concept record of sorts, concerning the life and subsequent death of one Denis James (or at least that’s what I derived from it.)
Starting off in a grand fashion with Fairytale which borrows liberally from The Small Faces in it’s opening coda then quickly does an about face into a maelstrom of swirling mellotrons and pop hook’s abound. Tough mod rock meets flower pop is a hybrid that I’ve always been fond of; when it’s executed with great aplomb.
Next up is the savage sounds of Rhubarb which is the damn near perfect alchemical mix of Cream & Arthur Brown. The guitar’s scream in tortured agony, grab you by the lapels AND threaten your mother! Denis James The Clown follows and could be the only disposable track on the album, as it’s in the knees up style which might as well be the birthright of any British musician recording in the 60’s. All part of the story though, which if I’m to say so, is a bit hard to follow. Back to the meat and taters with Steam Tugs which swings like a mother, albeit in a loose fashion and contains a corker of a guitar solo from one Bob Gibbons who shows remarkable feel for a man of his age.
Good Old ’59 brings us back to the pop-sike; propelled by a monster bass line and a hook worthy of The Idle Race. Anyone familiar with the Rubble compilations will surely remember The World Will End Yesterday from its inclusion on volume 5, with its ominous tones and apocalyptic visions.
Here’s where the album takes a turn for the dark side as our protagonist (presumably) spirals downward into drug addiction and depression, culminating in the incredibly morose Mainliner. We sink further into the abyss with the incredibly trippy title track complete with flutes, musique concrete and plenty of backwards tape that explodes into a blinding heavy rock passage.
For 7:43 we are brought down into the depths of a tortured mind, resulting in Denis James suicide in the albums closer The Bath Song, which as I’m sure you’ve already gathered, is not a toe tapper and slightly reminiscent of Procol Harum.
After this magnum opus Secondhand took on a more Progressive direction for their sophomore outing Death May Be Your Santa Claus, which is also highly recommended, if you dig the proggier end of things.
However – Reality will always be to me a high water mark in music where invention was championed and given a chance to flourish despite one’s age.
Thank you Eric!