Bristol’s Schnauser have been producing left-field psych/prog pop for the best part of a decade.
Last year’s album ‘Where Business Meets Fashion’ showed them at their peak with elements of The Beach Boys, Odessey and Oracle and The Flaming Lips in just one delicious platter.
With an imminent new vinyl release on Fruits de Mer where they ambitiously reinvent two prog works by Yes and Soft Machine; Fruits de Mer’s very own Keith Jones speaks to Schnauser’s Alan Strawbridge and Duncan Gammon.
One of those most successful artistic comebacks of recent years has been Fuchsia, reactivated after a forty year gap.
This groundbreaking orchestral progressive folk hybrid released what must be one of most most long awaited album follow-ups in ‘From Psychedelia To A Distant Place’, retaining the essence of what made them such a special group but gaining a new vitality for the modern era.
Tony and friends have just completed this video for one of the album highlights, ‘Melancholy Road’.
To celebrate the release Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band’s ‘The Red Day Album’ and Orgone Box’s ‘Centaur’, records that wear the Beatles influence on their sleeve but emerge special in their own right, The Strange Brew presents its favourite Beatlesque Beatleisms.
The Knickerbockers – Lies (Single A-side, Challenge (US), 1965)
Apostrophe – Sad And Blue (Single A-side, Bellaphon (Ger), 1979)
Julian Lennon – I Don’t Wanna Know (Photograph Smile, Pinnacle, 1998)
Jade – Rest of My Life (Faces of Jade, General American Records (US), 1970)
Rockin’ Horse – Oh Carol (Yes It Is, Philips, 1971)
The legendary ORGONEBOX album, has been released, under the title “Centaur” by Sugarbush Records on vinyl. This great album (see screen shot of back and front of cover) was recorded for- and briefly released by – TDK Records Japan.
TDK went under and so did the album’s release until by a strange and fortuitous road it was re-discovered by Bill Forsyth of London’s Minus Zero Records. Issued to massive acclaim in 2001 it nearly got Rick (Corcoran, for he IS Orgonebox) a deal with Parlophone. But slipping once again into the ether Rick kept a low profile for ten years until Sugarbush Records tempted him out of hibernation. He has obliged wonderfully with this version of that classic first album.
ORGONE BOX: Centaur (Promo Mix)
Imagine John Lennon fronting Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound with McCartney helping out (again) with the songwriting: This record is a sweet shop filled with mindbending sounds, jangling guitars, phased vocals and brilliant songs. The original recordings have been radically reworked. The songs have been mastered at the correct speed this time, some have been completely newly recorded and there is a brand new song – “Wethouse”! The sequencing is more in tune with the whole concept of the original recordings and one of the weaker tracks has been dropped. This is a little gem that deserves to be discovered over and over again.
It will never win a Brit award, but those in the “Know” will appreciate a work of real quality that some will consider a work of genius.
Cherished vinyl only label Fruits de Mer launch five excellent new releases from artists who all uniquely reinterpret 60s and 70s tracks making them all vibrant and sparkling for 2014.
Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot present six UK and US psych favourites (plus a fitting Icarus Peel original) into a double 7” concept package. Riches include a guitar laden version Floyd’s ‘Remember A Day’, deconstructed ‘White Rabbit’, ambitious interpretation of Mighty Baby’s ‘Egyptian Tomb’, lovely presentation of Curved Air’s ‘Puppets’, plus a stripped take of ‘I Had Too Much To Dream’.
'White Rabbit' - new version of the Grace Slick / Jefferson Airplane song - by The Honey Pot
Schizo Fun Addict’s single deliciously flip two cult film tracks. There’s a retake of the theme from Italian late 70s horror ‘Suspira’ retaining its dark core but with a modern prog spin. ‘In The Long Run’ from 1970’s ‘Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls’ conversely has a commercial edge (well commercial when vinyl led the way) with a hooky chorus and left field easy feel not unlike Saint Etienne.
One of my favourite bands on the scene are Schnauser with their own special brand of off-kilter pop. They are equally at home with progressive sounds and perfectly recapture and reinvent two prog works. ‘Astral Traveller’ from Yes’s ‘Time and a Word’ show the inventive side of the era. ‘As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still’ originally by Soft Machine (from Soft Machine Volume Two) starts close to the original before cutting loose in a psych-prog haze.
'Astral Traveller' - originally by Yes - new recording by Schnauser
Us and Them continue to quietly dazzle the listener following a number of excellent releases. This time round they give a gorgeous retelling of Sandy Denny’s ‘By The Time It Gets Dark’ and a charming recut of Donovan’s twist of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’. They finish by demonstrating that their own tracks are just as good with the enchanting ‘Do I Know You’. More please!
'Jabberwocky' - a new version of the Donovan / Lewis Carroll song, by Us and Them
When I tapped this next promo into the computer it asked me if it was The Tremeloes. No wonder, as this next band share much of their sound with Alan Blakley and the gang late 60s experimentations. The recently reactivated Bronco Bullfrog perfectly encapsulate pop-psych with two vital originals. ‘Time Waits For Norman’ is a marvelous suburban character study of another local eccentric a la ‘Barnabus Swain’ whilst ‘Rocking Horse Mender’ echoes Kaleidoscope’s wonderful ‘Mr Small The Watch Repairer’. You know you’re in safe hands with their version of ‘Listen To The Sky’ by The Sands. Like the best reinterpretations it retains the essence of the original but sprinkles enough fairy dust to make it indispensable all on its own.
'Time Waits For Norman' - a new song by Bronco Bullfrog (brilliant pop-psych!)
Another diverse, inventive, eccentric and marvellous set of vinyl platters from Fruits de Mer. As usual, they’re extremely limited so be sure to head on over.
The recordings for Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band ‘The Red Day Album’ were recorded over one weekend just after the release of The Beatles masterpiece in June 67.
From Louisiana and led by star teen songwriter Richard Orange, Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band made ripples in their home state and sneaked out a single. However incredibly, the music from these sessions has largely remained in the faults until today.
The long player opens with the backwards sound of ‘I’m Here’ it segues into the perfect pop of ‘Red Day’, the album’s stand out track. ‘Red Day’ is a McCartneyesque ballad that now enters the pantheon of 60s gems.
The album is peppered with great tunes and charming period pieces. Whilst drawing from a similar palette as Pepper such as the vaudeville ‘Send Me Your Picture’, other tracks have an early seventies power-pop feel not unlike early Wings. ‘Have You Been To The Light’ for instance has ‘Let Me Roll It’ guitars and organ six years early.
Whilst the Stones arguably fell short with The Satantic Majesties, The Red Day Album meets the challenge head on and showed a way forward that was neither back to basics or prog.
A great discovery and essential purchase for pop psych and power-pop fans alike.