(Cherry Red Records)
Now here’s a new edition of a British psych outing of some portent. Over the years I have seen Zoot Money the keyboard ace and singer here and there but have made his personal acquaintance only in recent weeks. He did tell me all about this band whose guitar player was one Andy Somers later Summers. Bass is by Pat Donaldson and drums by the great Colin Allen, later to play with Mayall, Stone The Crows and other luminaries. The flute and sax of the much-missed Nick Newall are heard along with the trumpet of Geoff Condon. The collection commences with a single that all us psych-fanciers were trying to find, back in the day.
Madman Running Through The Fields centres on the effect of hallucinogenics from taker and also observer of the indulger. That hypnotic bass and backwards hi-hat rides along with the almost folk-rock electric guitar and steady vocal from George (Zoot)..suddenly the pastoral flute appears. The crisp drumming is an essential part of the arrangement, holding it all together. What a sense of dynamics from such young guys! A percussive coda and the song is gone, too soon. Next up the reflective Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud which now sounds halfway between Donovan and Procol Harum. Traffic were to capitalise on this mood so very well a little later. The melody is very pretty and measured. The tambourine adds to the hippy vibe..you can almost smell the joss sticks. A shame this song never fell into the hands of the young Marianne Faithful….
World War Three is a heavier pumping sound with slivers of wahwah guitar growling away. At that time, the Russians had many missies ready to fire at the UK. We had to live in the shadow of the so-called Cold War. Zoot sings this with real edge as the others chime in on the chorus. Passages of semi-macabre circus-tempo music add to the sinister mood. On to This Island with its beach sounds intro and eerie tropical ambience, sitar twanging away and an ethereal wordless vocal high above the mix. If this wasn’t ever used in a film, it should have been!
Fourpenny Bus Ride exudes confidence and grip on the tune. It has a hint of Davies and perhaps McCartney. It’s a dig at the conventional citizen and his habits journeying to work and back. It doesn’t however sound vicious, any more than Nowhere Man does. The lyric points at escape and freedom. So very much of the time. The keys and guitar blend is terrific and original. Almost Squeeze way ahead of its time. Then Four Firemen which Money concedes is a newspaper story set to steady music. Nothing more, nothing less. ‘You could do things like that, then ‘ Zoot comments, somewhat drily.
Recapture The Thrill is a rock waltz with a haunting melody and engaging lyric. Quite a charming composition. Whimsical pop of a superior nature, you almost expect to hear the voice of the late Brian Matthew over the end of the track introducing the next number, probably Chad & Jeremy ! Soma (Parts One & Two) brings back the ringing sitar over a soft, steady tempo. The breathy flute adds to the dreamy feel. The tempo speeds up for a few bars and the drums patter away. It’s airy, delicate stuff and the flute is so beautiful.
Coffee Song is a Colton-Smith number and was also essayed by contemporaries Cream. A bluesy folk tune in essence, DC take it at an almost solemn pace.
High Flying Bird is not the US folk-rock gem but rather a set of observations on the hip culture with an excellent and clear vocal from Money, a sandpapered tinge to his voice. My favourite cut on this intriguing collection as they sound totally themselves and Somers indulges his Airplane side with a jazzy guitar break that floats over the song. The rhythm section proves themselves masters of mood on this one.
I’m so glad to have heard these tracks this clearly, many thanks to the group and the Powells and others. BTW the artwork is apposite and fabulous.
Dantalian’s Chariot ‘Chariot Rising’ (Remastered Edition) is out now on Cherry Red Records.
For more information and to purchase the album go here: http://bit.ly/2lI95OY