This is for me, one of the best compilations that Grapefruit Records have released two years ago. Hello Everyone: Popsike from Denmark Street 1968-70 is a trip through obscure hidden gems from the label, Spark Records. Established back in 1968 at the recording branch of the Denmark Street publishing company, Southern Music. They were involved in helping out musicians including Jimmy Page and Clem Cattini of The Tornados and representing songwriters including John Carter and Ken Lewis since the early '60s.
But they were also representing acts including a new psychedelic band Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera who licensed their recordings to the CBS imprint direction. This is where Spark Records was born. What the label represented is to rely heavily on musicians, writers, and technicians in the studio who were employed by Southern Music. Now while the status of the traditional British music industry was going on, the publishing company didn’t have success with the label.
What you have in your hands is as I’ve mentioned in my intro, hidden unearthed singles that shows obscure psychedelic pop singles of a history of the label turning on and tuning it up to see where it would have gone next. And while they were recorded in the basement studio at the company of Denmark Street’s premises, there are some amazing tracks that perked my ears up.
You have Timothy Blue which was Eric Woolfson’s alias name of his psych single, Room at the Top of the Stairs in which he would later use the same melody in a haunting tone with The Alan Parsons Project’s concept album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination on The Cask of Amontillado. The blaring wah-wah fuzz-tone and heavier guitar distortions with a catchy melody brings essences of The Move, The Creation, and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich with The Eggy’s You’re Still Mine and Hookey.
The garage-rock psych with ascending rhythms just hits you in the gut thanks to the thumping drums and bass, followed by the rhythmic guitars of The Fruit Machine’s Follow Me while the late Eartha Kitt brings a strange and Psych-soul rock twist of Donovan’s cover in an emotional yet surreal tone of Wear Your Love Like Heaven and the hypnotic arrangements of Hurdy Gurdy Man.
I have to admit, when I first heard Eartha’s take, I almost didn’t like it, but I listened to it again and she did a not so bad, but pretty good and very interesting job of the Donovan compositions. It’s strange, but she can take it to a different level. Now Icarus released their only concept album based on the Marvel Comics entitled, The Marvel World of Icarus in 1972. Here before they did that, with some killer flute improvisation in a Beatle-sque touch of When The Devil Rides Out.
New Generation go into a vaudeville turned ominous rock thanks to some walking bass lines and climbing beats of a shuffling piano styles of Scott Joplin of the Digger as Sir Ching I go up into the heavens featuring the mellotron to welcome the people and the listener of Hello Everyone and the Indian tribe of Hiawatha Mini Ha Ha Love. I have enjoyed listening to this amazing set and yes there are a few hits and misses, but you can imagine why the label was so ahead of it’s time.
Speaking of the Spark label and Denmark Street, Henry Scott-Irvine, who I championed on my blog site thanks to his book and liner notes he did for Esoteric Recordings which is a part of the Cherry Red family on the first four Procol Harum albums reissue last year and not to mention his book Procol Harum: The Ghosts of a Whiter Shade of Pale which I highly recommend you check out. He is planning to do a documentary about the history of Tin Pan Alley entitled Tin Pan Alley Tales.
And he’s doing his best to save not just Tin Pan Alley, but with Denmark Street also. Here’s the website to show donations and support Henry whatever he can to help. It’s a shame that some of the buildings are gone, but please go to the websites and show support and as Henry said in an interview with a London news channel, “Don’t let the music die. People come here for the music. Don’t let the music die in Tin Pin Alley.”
It’s a strong and powerful message.
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Tin Pin Alley Tales
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