Fading Yellow Volume 3

Flower Machine Records, Second Press
“22 shiny jewels of US pop-sike & other delights 1965-69”

Fading Yellow 3

This world is big and wild and half insane as Ray Davis once said.  So why not curl up with Fading Yellow Volume 3,  a veritable cornucopia of multi-flavoured aural delights?

Any scoring system fall falls down at times and this volume I’ve struggled with my three and four stars.  Three and a half isn’t an option so where in doubt I’ve opted for four.  The fives are the standout tracks.  Of that I have no doubt.

In the beginning

I couldn’t get along with Eddie Hodges Shadows and Reflections **** at first because the lyrics seem at odds with the military march of the music.  Then I heard  The Action’s version and at once the song fell into place.  The Action offer atmosphere and an edge.  Eddie Hodges gave us the original I’m Gonna Knock on Your Door in 1961 (the Jimmy Osmond version was the bane of 1972) but he also co-wrote Along Comes Mary with Tandyn Almer (who co-wrote Shadows and Reflections) so superbly covered by The Association.

Michael and The Trees Show You Love Me *** is a sultry, sulky number of shifting moods and a great falling away on ‘girl, girl, girl.’

There are interesting and quite stark harmonies in It Will Never Be the Same *** by the superbly named Wiggs Of 1666 but it’s a shame about the slightly distorted sound quality.

Jim Ryan of The Critters produced and plays on Giant Jellybean Copout B-side Look at the Girls *** and, as you might expect, it’s smooth, harmony pop with dreamy vibes.

An air of dreamy wonder also pervades Network’s The Boys and the Girls *** another 1968 B-side.

Then, as with the middle of Volume 2, we hit three great tracks in succession.

Flowers in His Hair

Saturday’s Photograph’s Gentle Loving San Francisco Man ***** is the sound of blissful loving contentment.  It’s a warm-hearted and evocative piece of jangly flower power folk-pop which also happens to be a very well crafted song.  You must have heard songs which, upon first listen, sound like something you already know or feel you have always known – well San Francisco Man is just that because it’s so instinctive and simply never puts a foot wrong.

In the female vocal you can hear the song’s routes in earlier-in-the-decade high school girl-pop but the greater maturity, a mellow vibe, harpsichord and those deliciously ‘Indian’ sliding string passages leave us in no doubt that times have changed.   The lyrics are a virtual manifesto for the sensitive, poetic Aquarian male.  I especially like the line ‘If somebody puts him down he’d pretend he did not hear, And he always walked away the better man’ – five years earlier and Johnny would have flattened the other guy with a sock to the jaw and been a hero to the girl for having done so.  Now peace and love are the new virtues.  The only note of doubt sounded amidst the air of complete contentment is the cautionary ‘And I hope to God I’ll always be around him’ – sung with a slight emphasis.

I had this down as pure 1967 which spiritually it surely is but it was actually released in 1969. That perhaps accounts for its lack of chart success.

Mark Radice

I’m always hoping that Fading Yellow will uncover a talent new to me and two tracks from Mark Radice Save Your Money **** and Wooden Girl ***** do precisely that.   I’ve posted separately on Mark’s single

Ten Tracks

The next ten tracks serve up an enjoyable variety of songs without turning-up anything truly exceptional.  The best of the ten is Voyage’s One Day **** with its interesting variety of psychedelic sounds – repeated brass motifs, busy cellos tumbling through a sound tunnel, a husky-voiced verse or two, chromatic orientalisms, traffic concrete, all in a circular day-in-a-life voyage which takes you back where you began.  The construction is unusual as the opening brass melody isn’t heard again until some way into the song, suggesting a kind of late-in-the-day bridge which turns out not to be a bridge at all. This is unlike anything else on Volume Three.

A Time of the Season riff gives way to 50s early echoed vocals and then more chromatic weirdness in Shelley Tell Me Why by River Deep ***

If it’s snotty sixties vocals with organ you’re after you’ll find them on Springfield Rifle’s Left Of Nowhere *** alongside something a little more ethereal.

Lamp Of Childhood’s First Time, Last Time *** offers fine string-backed harmonies with a kind of Mamas and Papas influence.

Toy Shop by Trolley *** has a spinning tops, miniature merry-go-round feel and could be a kind of companion piece to Mark Radice’s Wooden Girl.  

Take A Look in the Mirror *** –  ‘what at first seemed so pretty isn’t pretty after all’.  There is a Byrds-like feel to this [piece from East Town Kids with nice guitar work and urgency to the vocals.

London Phogg’s The Times To Come *** This sounds like, and is, from 1969 with its pattering drums, and (for Fading Yellow) bursts of blistering guitar married to rapturous vocals.

There is a warm Pet Sounds vibe to Carnival’s  B-side I’m Going Home Tomorrow *** while Gaitley and Fitzgerald’s Séance Day ***  with its parping bassoon, shivery strings and strutting guitar has a faint recall of Curt Boettcher tracks like Hotel Indiscreet and I’m Not Living Here but with a certain Addams Family vibe.

Scandal’s Girl, You’re Goin’ Out A My Mind *** offers enthusiastic vocals and some ba-ba-bas before we reach the top track of Volume Three.

Picture this

Robbi Curtice – When Diana Paints The Picture ***** I love this song.  It simply exemplifies the way artists in the 60s could take a common genre – the love song – and make of it something completely original whilst employing a memorable melody and sympathetic arrangement to do so.  And incredibly, this is the B-side.

When Diana Paints the Picture has 1968 written all over it – the transformative ideas of the counterculture filtering through to pop, the dreamy but full arrangement in a style not dissimilar to Burt Somner or Nick Garrie’s The Nightmare of J.B.Stanislas album, the emphasis on feeling rather than appearances (‘it isn’t what she sees but what’s inside her heart’).  The lyric also casts the singer in a self-deprecating light which is never a bad thing.

Diana (the name means heavenly or divine) transforms the singer’s perception of himself when she ‘paints a picture’ (I don’t think it means literally ‘paint’ although you might choose to take it that way).  The song also draws upon ideas of the world turning from black and white into colour during the 60s such that the song itself seems to generate a kind of colourful psychedelic swirl.

The cascading wind-chime silvery bells which colour the introduction and opening line are a bit of a distraction but don’t detract from this being a fabulous song.

Robbi Curtice on Psychedelic Central 

Pastel World  

Enthusiastic, youthful vocals, some ba-ba-bas, woodwind, busy strings, a bashed cymbal and somewhere a Wurlitzer make up for a crazee good-time feel in Chicago Loop’s This Must Be the Place ***  This was produced by Bob Crewe who co-wrote many of The Four Seasons hits and songs for many other artists.  Sadly Bob died last month at the age of 82.

‘It’s a pastel world’ according to Saturday’s Photograph.  I find this kind of sun-dappled mood music hard to resist when it’s as soft and seductive as Summer Never Go Away ****.  It’s flutey and kinda warm but cool too.

Last up is Cadaver’s Haven’t Got The Time ***   which lifts off into an enjoyably unexpected harpsichord/guitar instrumental break.

This is a solid collection.  It lacks the minor key feel which unified Volume 2 but there is a varied selection here.  Most lovers of pop-sike should come away finding something to treasure.

1. Eddie Hodges – Shadows And Reflections [1967] ****
2. Michael And The Trees – Show You Love Me [n/d/] ***
3. Wiggs Of 1666 – It Will Never Be The Same – [1966] ***
4. Giant Jellybean Copout – Look At The Girls [1968] ***
5. Network – The Boys And The Girls [1968] ***
6. Saturday’s Photograph – Gentle Loving San Francisco Man [1969] *****
7. Mark Radice – Save Your Money [1967] ****
8. Mark Radice – Wooden Girl [1967] *****
9. Voyage – One Day [n/d] ****
10. River Deep – Shelley Tell Me Why (1969) ***
11. Springfield Rifle – Left Of Nowhere [1969] ***
12. Lamp Of Childhood – First Time, Last Time [1967] ***
13. Trolley – Toy Shop [n/d]***
14. East Side Kids – Take A Look In The Mirror [1967] ***
15. London Phogg – The Times To Come [1969] ***
16. Carnival – I’m Going Home Tomorrow [1968]***
17. Gaitley And Fitzgerald – Seance Day [1967]***
18. Scandal – Girl, You’re Goin’ Out A My Mind [n/d] ***
19. Robbi Curtice – When Diana Paints The Picture [1968]*****
20. Chicago Loop – This Must Be The Place [1966]***
21. Saturday’s Photograph – Summer Never Go Away [n/d]****
22. Cadaver – Haven’t Got The Time [1968]***

Fading Yellow Volume 1
Fading Yellow Volume 2
Fading Yellow Volume 4

Mark Radice: ‘Save Your Money’ and ‘Wooden Girl’

Mark Radice 45Both Save Your Money and Wooden Girl, the A and B sides of Mark Radice’s 1967 single would be among the strongest tracks on Fading Yellow Volume 3 if written and performed by a twenty or thirty year old.  Mark was aged only ten.

Neither are they the kind of sugary pap one tends to associate with child prodigies manipulated by producers with dollar signs in their eyes.  No, this being 1967, a more intelligent and less overtly commercial approach is taken.  Wooden Girl especially, takes the fact that the singer is aged ten and then does something interesting with that, so we have something genuinely intelligent and engaging going on here.  I’d describe the sound as kind of homespun Sergeant Pepper meets spacey Hannah-Barbara.

‘Save Your Money’ and ‘Wooden Girl’ both feature catchy melodies (‘Wooden Girl’, incredibly so), slightly off-kilter, not overly produced arrangements and a canny knowledge of how to take the styles of the day and weave them into something a ten year old might sing about.  That father was recording engineer Gene Radice must have helped but there is no getting away from the fact that these songs simply stand out.  My only gripe with Save Your Money is that I can’t make out some of the lyrics and therefore lose the story – not Mark’s or the production’s fault at all, just the sound quality of the recording here.

Clavichord-rich B-side, ‘Wooden Girl’, is a very infectious piece of psych-pop which a band like Kaleidoscope might have come up with and is even stronger than Save Your Money.   The story of the wooden girl is the classic tale of a child’s make-believe friend gone a little too far so she is more real than the people around him.

You’re not always quite sure on first listen which elements of the accompaniment are Mark’s voice-as reverbed-backing-vocal and which parts are actual instrumentation – somehow this blurring accentuates the sense of the child’s enclosed, imaginary world.  He even manages to use what sounds like a kazoo to actually add something to the song rather than turn it daft or lightweight as might so easily have been the case.

Mark has gone on to do a great deal in music so I am sure to be posting about him again.