Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Pink Fairies—
Mandies And Mescaline Round At Uncle Harry's


Released 1998 on NMC
The Seth Man, March 2004ce
This collection gathers together some of the best live recordings made of The Pink Fairies in their earliest incarnations -- when guitarist Paul Rudolph reigned supreme fronting the first two Fairy lineups comprised of Twink (drums/vocals), Russell Hunter (drums), Sandy Sanderson (bass) and following Twink’s departure in late 1971, Trevor Burton on second guitar.

First up are two tracks from a November 1970 BBC session with a raw and alive cover of Li’l Richie Penniman’s “Lucille” and...

“The Snake.”

It’s the best Pink Fairies song of all time, and here it is seven and a half minutes of apocalypse. On the punk-o-meter it registers ten and a half...right before it shatters.

Just for this one track ALONE “Mandies And Mescaline” is essential. Needless to say it absolutely dwarfs every other collection of Fairies live, studio or outtake material ever released because this preview of their then-forthcoming single is rendered at staggering velocity and volume into an extended wrought-out that was truly ahead of its time both in its aggression of delivery and pure raw power. It is the most brutal Pink Fairies moment ever and it confirms all reports that The Fairies in live concert performance at this time -- 1970 -- were untouchable and at their absolute pinnacle with their entire studio output trailing a far distant second. During a double drum and percussion solo that approximates a stampede of tripping buffalo after watching too many re-runs of the original ‘Star Trek’ television programme, Rudolph reaches for his xylophone to sprinkle a little Fairy dust over the proceedings and it’s as if a good fairy is waving a magic wand is getting all the cooking, dishes and laundry done in one brightly sparkling swoop. When they cut back in to the main razored riff-o-rama, Rudolph puts his Baby Gibson Les Paul through all his insanely dexterous paces in good places with finger tremolo, howling tone and HIWATT action galore as Twink and Russ bash it all up behind while Sandy pulses handsomely in the background. For the chorus, Rudolph’s echoed vocals go “You slip and slide/you slip and slide” spreading out over his switching razor riff/rapid jock itch scratch across the bridge. After advising you to watch out for that old snake, the band comes to a full halt on a final barked out, “I LOVE YOU!” This is unbelievably full-on rock’n’roll and one of the best things I’ve ever experienced temporary hearing loss to in my entire life.

A second group of BBC sessions from November 1971 is represented by a well-worn though rambunctious cover of “Johnny B. Goode” and a delivery of their epic off their “Never Never Land” LP, “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout.” This is the lineup that would grace their second album, “What A Bunch Of Sweeties” with ex-Move guitarist Trevor Burton appearing on second guitar and although nowhere in the same league with the previous year’s performance, it still makes all the right rough’n’ready moves -- if at times dropping into some tentative explorations.

But what rounds off “Mandies And Mescaline” is a return back to the blistering paces of the original four-piece. Once resigned to the obscurity of (side one, record three) of the deadly rare Revelations triple LP, released to commemorate the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre are two live cuts of The Fairies performing from the clear plastic pyramid stage on the morning (and/or) eve of June 23 (and/or) 24. Released one year after the event, the original booklet that accompanied “Revelations” stated: “The Fairies are now a thing of the past...turn it up and let them roar into your head.” And despite the rustic conditions of the recording, the loose, sloppy and undying drive of their blazing, errant energy is in full attendance. Twink barked and cursed out over a completely roughshod version of “Do It,” followed in turn by a distended 19-minute long version of “Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out” featuring some recklessly wild and free guitar soloing from Rudolph that tunnels with, within and without the backing accompaniment from his trio of Fairy cohorts. Rudolph’s playing is totally fluid, slipping between wah-wah, Binson Echo-wrecked, distorto-silk with feedback rising to the fore. At point it shoots into an instrumental interlude taken from “Billy The Monster” by his old band, The Deviants and Rudolph’s smoky vocals are at one point dazed, confused yet nonetheless full-on for the entire odyssey.

After the din has subsided, Rudolph intones into the microphone “Keep it together!” although this particular lineup would not as Twink left the group soon thereafter. The Fairies then fell into a period of time spent re-assembling, regrouping and cooling their heels that would continue on and off into the nineties with varying degrees of artistic success and no commercial success whatsoever. But the initial outpouring rush of the initial Fairies is captured to an exhilarating extent on “Mandies And Mescaline.”

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