Classic Singles #103: The Barrier – Uh! / Spot The Lights (1968)

barrier-pic sleeveThe Barrier hailed from Fulham in South London and were originally known as The Purple Barrier, shortening their name in response to pressure from the management of Deep Purple (then a pop psych outfit themselves rather than the heavy rock behemoths they would become in the 1970s).

‘Uh! / Spot The Lights’ was The Barrier’s third single and appeared on the Philips label in December 1968 (in the UK in a plain sleeve, though it was also issued in the Netherlands in the picture sleeve shown). Despite the rather uninspiring title, ‘Uh!’ is in fact a very enjoyable slice of commercial pop psych / mod beat with a spiky guitar break and a few of the titular grunts thrown in for good measure.

But it is on the flip that the group really hits their stride. A discordant piano intro immediately grabs the attention and quickly gives way to pummeling drums (that hardly let up for the rest of the song) and driving fuzz guitar, underpinning a very melodic, catchy vocal line with simple but effective lyrics about a night out in the centre of town.

‘Uh!’

‘Spot The Lights’

‘Dawn Breaks Through’, the b-side of The Barrier’s debut single on the independent Eyemark label is also essential to check out – it is another high octane pop psych gem, unfortunately buried on the flip of the very forgettable ‘Georgie Brown’. It had initially been slated to appear with another song, the excellent ‘Shapes and Sounds’, but this 45 never proceeded beyond the acetate stage (though you can now hear the lost a-side on Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume 1 or on a 45 issued by Top Sounds in 2013 which also includes a demo version of ‘Dawn Breaks Through’).

A second 45 ‘The Tide is Turning / A Place In Your Heart’ was recorded by session men while the band were touring overseas.

A brief clip exists of the group, part of Philips’ New Faces of 1969 promotional film that also showcased the likes of The Open Mind, Ambrose Slade and Procession.

Reissues: Both sides of the single are on Rare 60’s Beat Treasures Volume 4; ‘Spot The Lights’ is on Rubble Volume 17 and English Freakbeat Volume 3.

Discography
  • Georgie Brown / Dawn Breaks Through (Eyemark, 1968)
  • The Tide Is Turning / A Place In Your Heart (Philips, 1968)
  • Uh! / Spot The Lights (Philips, 1968)
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