Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

July
Dandelion Seeds


Released on Bam Caruso
Reviewed by Cerberus, 08/03/2003ce


Now for more familliar territory!
I want to scream, shout and drool about St Albans favourite record label's reissue of July's mushroom munching gonzoid psych-classic from 67.
This record has lasted ages and ages because it's such a loose, deranged headfuck of anti-pop psychedelia.
Ya see, I hate that whole swinging-london, soul bossanova, yawnaby, Wankworth side of the sickstees so I'm always delighted when a dark, disturbing, trippy beast that reminds you just how satisfying some British psychedelia can be stumbles into my collection. I've had this record for years but relistened recently and was happily blown away like I was when I first heard the 'proper' mix of Piper. Yeah!
This record is so loose that you're surprised the songs actully hold together and it appears to mutate & shift constantly as if chief genious Tom Newman had about five songs in his head everytime he was writing one. It's not freeform but it's got a sort of pre-hippy, pre-prog organic feel that removes it far enough from the contemporary beat-scene of the time for it not to sound like a plunked bass fake-psych Hollies thing!
Even the most ordinary songs sound like they hang in an absurd place of their own. The ubiquitous mockney Small Faces rip off Hello Who's There seems to want to be cheery but still brings to mind a nightmare bedsit with STP butties and crawling wallpaper. The blatant pot advert Jolly Mary is a strung out Captain Pugwash-on-dope sea shanty and makes The Coral sound like scouse Wurzels. Even though there's a slight hint of Beach Boys in the middle they still manage to sound like they've never heard any other records ever and when it goes 'Everybody stand and laugh..' and the singer throws in a hyper effected 'HA HA' you kinda know that this shit is pure!
But for the real meal deal, check the title track alone. It's the loosest most fucked thang here and its pure GENIOUS from the almost outtake start to its breakdown ending. Built on a cyclic, shambling groove where the guitarist seems to be simulating tremelo by using a volume pedal like a wah-wah, the song rolls along eagerly fooling you into thinking its one thing when suddenly something else floats in from the ether. About halfway through over a ghostly, echo-y piano (or could be vibes) sound a gentler but more fractured song fades in with an off-key flawed vocal that would have Barrett thinking 'there's something not right with this kid!'. But before it's really begun, it's faded out again, back into the groove which now sounds like Can in hipsters. But that's the thing which I love about this record - there's always something weird going on and the music whilst not being in the freakout vein of the Floyd or Softs has more moveable parts than other comparable groups like Skip Bifferty or Blossom Toes.
The Way and Hallo To Me are both absolute fucking gems. The former is a sitar-drone acid folker which seems to want to break down at any point but holds itself together long enough to throw off a ridiculous out of tune harmony vocal bit which would sound like cliched raga-crap if it wasn't so gloriously inept. Better than the Beatles? Need I ask!?
Hallo To Me is one of the most wonderfully dark, broken psychedelic 'songs' I've heard. A bit like the downbeat, bad trip psyche Blur were trying to do before Britplop beckoned but this is the genuine article. A chorus so awkwardly up with a brooding desperation that you end up convinced that a week after the record came out the singer probably shaved off his body hair, dressed in paper robes and was last seen talking to dustbins on the Portobello Road.
The 'single' Friendly Man is the nearest thing here to standard 'pop-sike' but still seems to have a quality and depth that transcends the many examples of bandwagon leaping psyche attempted by every other crap British club soul or beat band at the time. It's like this band were born into psychedelia and I can't imagine any tedious beat-boom origins at all. Nor do I want any anally retentive collector kindly pointing out that the guitarist & bassist were in Dave Twat and the Knobtones whilst the drummer oncle played for Alexis Corner's Revolving Gobshite Jazz Review Band in 1964. No, no, all I know is that members of the band hung out in Morocco and Tangiers in 1966 and that's all I need. The fact that Spencer Davis managed them seems like a total irrelevance as his post-Winwood attempts at psych are complete crap.
This record is now available on CD (Aftermath AFT 1004) which also has the advantages of the original cover art (including the bands name haemorraging from the nostrils of an absurd collage creature along with some frogs, lizards and genuinely weird veiny hands - a satanic technicolor Revolver/Little Black Egg) and is a lot cheaper, certainly than the original but also the Bam Caruso vinyl which usually goes for stupid prices now as 'it's a collectible label blah blah blah'. Yeah, knobshiner! This record should be given free with every Coldplay album to educate people on real idiosyncracy. In fact, just beat people up for buying Coldplay and save July for the real heads!


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