Great Britain

No clever themes unite this week’s 1960’s psychedelic pop selections. Beyond being unapologetically British, that is.

1. Phil Cordell, Red Lady (Janus)
Phil Cordell was a British folk-popster & songwriter who found greater (or, rather, relatively greater) fame in the 70’s with an idiosyncratic pop project called Springwater.

The effervescent “Red Lady,” remains, however, his crowning acheivement – a chugging tour de force of bohemian languor, sung with all the veiled drug references and quasi-mysticism appropriate for 1969. Fading out in a kaleidoscopic hum of sitar-like slide guitar (which Cordell, a multi-instrumentalist, is himself presumably playing), harp, cymbalum, and the obligatory “wailing forest maiden,” you, like me, may wonder whether there was a downside to all this narcotic bliss. Unless you count the bloodshot eyes, there wasn’t.

“Red Lady,” originally released on the Warner Brothers UK label, was released stateside on the Janus label (pictured here).

2. The Societie, Bird has Flown (Deram)
The Societie were a Scottish group, with the Hollies’ lead vocalist Allan Clarke handling production on this oddly loping pop chestnut from 1967. Further research reveals little else on who the Societie were, unfortunately. Further research reveals little else about subtleties of the lyrics of “Bird Has Flown,” too, as I inevitably seem to get derailed by all that cavernous echo. There are moments when I honestly can’t even tell whether the drums are running backwards or forwards. Really, who cares? It’s echo, for God’s sake.

3. Peter Sarstedt, Blagged! (World-Pacific)
Maybe it’s that British pop songwriter Sarstedt seems today to be regarded as a somewhat frivolous period relic. Maybe it’s the era’s general production philosophy that the more flanging, the better. (Flange is the distinct “phasing” effect heard on the drums). Maybe it’s the lush sound reminiscient of the early Bee Gees records. Well, whatever; I find this to be an endearing specimen of the British psychedelic baroque.

Though it’s more identifiably psychedelic, “Blagged!” also bears comparison to some of the seemier fare of the cult 60’s crooner Scott Walker. Sarstedt projects a similar, cynical kind of masculinity – a posture which his weary bravura rescues from being merely corny.

“Blagged!” was recorded in 1968. Like “Red Lady,” the 45 pictured here was the American issue of the record.

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16 Responses to Great Britain

  1. Anonymous says:

    i knew there was a reason i put on my union jack undies this morning as opposed to the incredible hulks.. now where is my handle of beefeater gin?

    fun tunes friend

    winston churchill

  2. Glad you found Office Naps, sir! I loved your work from WWII, incidentally.

  3. blanca says:

    This week’s selection is groovy. Makes you wonder how The Monkees enjoyed the popularity they had when Societie had such a sweet little song that was just as catchy. As a matter of fact, I can imagine the tv show with Societie now – maybe even a cross-over special where the young Societie scamps run into the rascally Monkees and have a battle of the bands moment for a date with Twiggy or someone like that. Dan, thanks for exercising my imagination…

  4. 9/7/2006. Changed this week’s title, thus bringing things closer to some sort of organizational compliance – or my obsessive idea of it, at least. What a clown. No biggie.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Found your site via Soul Sides, and happy I have to – Red Lady slips right onto the listen over-and-over-again shelf – thanking yee, ein

  6. Taylor says:

    once again, three amazing tracks. I’m esepcially loving “Red Lady.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    me too. slipped in via soul-sides. and good god, I love your wide view. keep on diggin’ varied! and keep on diggin’ deep!

  8. Anonymous says:

    That “Blagged” is amazing. Fantastic blog here.

  9. Thanks for your kind words – glad you’re diggin’ Blagged!

  10. Atall says:

    I’m finding myself obsessed by Red Lady. I wonder if there’s a better quality version of it anywhere (no offense)…

    And “chugging” is quite the right word for it.

  11. I went through some similar months of fascination with “Red Lady.” It’s still one my all-time Brit-psych faves. Don’t know that it’s ever seen “official” reissue, though.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi there, I am new to this Blog, but I am overwhelmed by the amount of cool stuff on here. I just don’t know where to start! Is there any chance you can mention (if you know of course) if any of the things you post have been reissued? And if it hasn’t, can anyone tell me how stuff of this quality can languish in the vaults gathering dust. Someone needs to be told!

  13. Hi Tainage, thanks for your kind words! I’m of course drawn to stuff that is so obscure that it’s never been reissued, but I’d say that at least a good %50 of what I post has been reissued at some point.

    Were there any specific titles (or genres) you had in mind? I or some the folks who read Office Naps might be able to help you.


  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m a bit late on this, but Red Lady is on an amazing comp called Fading Yellow. If you find it- buy it!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The Societe 45 is brilliant stuff! You can hear Clarke on the backing vocals of the record as well. He also wrote and produced (with help from bandmate Graham Nash) “Coming From The Ground” a 45 released by a Swedish group called The Lee Kings. It was recorded in the UK in ’67 and featured Clarke and Nash on backing vocals as well.

  16. Kurt says:

    I tracked down a copy of Peter Sarstedt’s album on World Pacific and played it last night for the first time. I must say, I was quite impressed. I keep reading things making fun of this guy’s “masculinity” or “pretension” or “bravura” or whatever, but I think he’s really good. The album reminds me of a weird mix: lounge music combined with Al Stewart and brit psych. But anyway the arrangements are spectacular, his voice is really nice, and each song is distinct and different in style. I’d recommend it highly and I’d gladly share my vinyl rip.

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