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.