quarta-feira, 19 de março de 2008

July - July (Great & Rare UK Psychedelia 1968)

They started out as a skiffle act from Ealing, called The Playboys and then became a R&B combo The Tomcats. John (Speedy) Keen was in them for a while. In 1966, The Tomcats went to Spain with a new line-up (the future July one). As Los Tomcats, they got in the Charts with four EPs, one of which was all in Spanish! They returned to the UK in 1968, still basing themselves in Ealing.
July recorded what has become one of the most sought-after British psychedelic sixties albums. Twenty-five years on time has not been kind to all the tracks (e.g. Jolly Mary) but overall it's well worth purchasing for its eerie brand of psychedelia (on Dandelion Seeds and My Clown) and some fine psychedelic guitar work (Crying Is For Writers). More accessible are the Bam-Caruso reissue, which was put out in a different sleeve, and the Aftermath CD reissue. Both also include the second 45, which wasn't on the first album. Duhig and Field went on to be in Jade Warrior and Tom Newman later released solo albums on Virgin and Decca. He also set up Branson's Manor Studios and engineered Tubular Bells I and II. Duhig was also later in Assagai. Alan James went on to play for Cat Stevens, Duffy Power, Neil Innes and Kevin Coyne. They were managed by Spencer Davis.
July started out in the early '60s as an Ealing-based skiffle act working under the name of the Playboys, and then metamorphosed into an R&B outfit known as the Thoughts and then the Tomcats, through which John "Speedy" Keen passed as a drummer. The final Tomcats lineup, which evolved out of an unrecorded band known as the Second Thoughts, found some success in Spain when they went to play a series of gigs in Madrid in 1966. They returned to England in 1968, the group's lineup consisting of Tony Duhig on guitar, John Field on flute and keyboards, Tom Newman on vocals, Alan Jamesplaying bass, and Chris Jackson on drums, and changed they their name to July.
The band lasted barely a year, leaving behind one of the most sought-after LPs of the British psychedelic boom (on the Major Minor label in England, and Epic Records in the U.S. and Canada). Their sound was a mix of trippy, lugubrious psychedelic meanderings, eerie, trippy vignettes ("Dandelion Seeds," "My Clown"), and strange, bright electric-acoustic textured tracks ("Friendly Man"), with some dazzling guitar workouts (Crying Is for Writers") for good measure, all spiced with some elements of world music, courtesy of Tony Duhig (who has since come to regard July as an embarrassing element in his resume). Their first single, "My Clown" b/w "Dandelion Seeds," has come to be considered a classic piece of psychedelia while the album is just plain collectable, despite some shortcomings. The band separated in 1969, with Duhig moving on to Jade Warrior, Newman becoming a well-respected engineer, with Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells to his credit, and bassist Alan James later working with Cat Stevens and Kevin Coyne, among others. Of the various reissues, Bam-Caruso's 1987 Dandelion Seeds is the most accessible, with Essex's The Second of July consisting of previously unissued recordings from 1967.

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