“Your ears will start to ring, and life will sing, you’ve discovered Spring…”
So far I’ve steered clear of 60s psychedelia and freakbeat from the UK. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of quality examples to choose from, more that a high proportion of the best sides are collected on a comparatively small set of compilations. However, it would be totally remiss of me not to include this bona fide masterpiece as a Classic Single (a copy was in legendary DJ John Peel’s box of all-time favourite singles after all!).
This Surrey-based trio started life as The Souvenir Badge Factory but had shortened their name by the time of their debut single, released on MGM in October 1968. Guitarist Ian Oates had met Brian Carroll, a recording engineer at IBC Studios, at a party and invited him to see his band play live. Carroll was looking to produce a group with colleague Damon Lyon-Shaw and The Factory’s performance was enough to convince him that they were the right outfit.
‘Path Through The Forest’ was not a band original and, though credited to Rollings, had in fact been written by singer-songwriter Clifford T. Ward who used his wife’s maiden name for publishing purposes. It made its way to The Factory as an acoustic demo via entrepreneur Eddie Tre-Vett, who at the time was working as an independent producer in an office in the same building as IBC, and who was also able to license the 45 to MGM. The Factory turned the song into a psychedelic wonderment, using distorted vocals to present the evocative lyrics and punctuating the verses with long instrumental passages with beautifully controlled feedback and subtle acid guitar work. Oh, how I love this one!
‘Path Through The Forest’
The band had wanted to augment the recording with all manner of studio effects but this was vetoed by the record company. A version with the effects included has appeared on several retrospectives of the outfit’s material (the latest is on Guerssen). I find the additions a little distracting, probably because I am so used to the unadorned version.
The flip is a cover of a Paul Revere and The Raiders’ number from their 1965 LP Here They Come! . The Factory take a fairly forgettable keyboard-driven ballad, considerably up the tempo and add fuzzy guitar to create something much more listenable (to my ears anyway!).
The band issued one more excellent 45, ‘Try a Little Sunshine / Red Chalk Hill’, and this time both sides were written by a songwriter friend of Carroll named John Pantry, a studio engineer at IBC who was also a member of Sounds Around and Peter and The Wolves (among others). Unfortunately, it was no more successful than the debut, and the band decided to call it a day shortly afterwards.
Reissues: I would suggest picking up the Path Through The Forest retrospective on Guerssen, which has both singles, a couple of unreleased tracks, and the version of ‘Path Through The Forest’ with sound effects. You can also find ‘Path Through The Forest’ on the Psychedelic Dungeon compilation or if you are feeling flush, the Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From the British Empire and Beyond box set.
- Path Through The Forest / Gone (MGM, 1968)
- Try a Little Sunshine / Red Chalk Hill (CBS, 1969)