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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Classic Singles #102: The Answers – It’s Just a Fear / You’ve Gotta Believe Me (1966)

Answers-labelThe Answers from South Shields in the North East of England were responsible for a bona fide freakbeat classic in ‘It’s Just a Fear’, the a-side of their debut single released on the Columbia label in February 1966 (promotional copies give the song title as ‘Just a Fear’, stock copies as the full ‘It’s Just a Fear’).

The song was written by guitarist Tony Hill, whose incisive, driving, at times almost raga-like fretwork is a key feature of the number – a dance floor stomper with pounding drums, soulful vocals from J. Vincent Edwards, and a suitably frenetic rave-up finish.

Flip ‘You Gotta Believe Me’ (another Hill composition) is a more commercial offering than the a-side but still moves along nicely with a winning melody and some neat harmonica.

Follow-up single ‘That’s What You’re Doing To Me / Got a Letter From My Baby’ appeared in July (possibly only in demo form).

Tony Hill has featured in this blog before as he left The Answers to join the definitive line-up of psychedelic legends The Misunderstood and after that formed heavy progsters High Tide. J. Vincent Edwards went solo after the band split, appeared in the London production of Hair, and later went on to be a successful songwriter and producer.

‘(It’s) Just a Fear’

‘You’ve Gotta Believe Me’

Reissues: ‘It’s Just a Fear’ can be found on Rubble Volume 13, English Freakbeat Volume 3 and That Driving Beat Volume 1; the flip is on Portobello Explosion and Magic Spectacles.

Discography
  • It’s Just a Fear / You’ve Gotta Believe Me (Columbia, 1966)
  • That’s What You’re Doing To Me / Got a Letter From My Baby (Columbia, 1966)

Classic Singles #83: Turnstyle – Riding a Wave / Trot (1968)

Turnstyle_labelTurnstyle were a short-lived UK outfit from London who released one ultra-rare single on the Pye label in November 1968.

A-side ‘Riding a Wave’ is probably not going to appeal to hardcore 60s garage heads but give it a chance as it is scintillating psychedelic pop with a fine melody, very effective orchestration, and some biting guitar work. It is not too hard to imagine that with a little bit of good fortune this could have been a hit.

Flip ‘Trot’ is more hard-edged – a brash freakbeat number that hooks you in with its opening bass riff, has a slightly bizarre chorus, and powerful, stinging lead guitar throughout.

 

‘Riding a Wave’

‘Trot’

Both side’s of the 45 were written by the group’s drummer Marc Ashton, who was later a founder member of the far more successful prog-rockers Rare Bird. The Turnstyle also included his brother in the line-up. The band supported The Nice and also had a short residency at the Star Club in Hamburg.

The single was produced and arranged by pirate DJ John Edward (who as Johnny Flux had been a member of The Mannish Boys along with a certain David Jones, later to be known as David Bowie). His entertainment agency also represented the band, along with other acts now held in high esteem by psych hounds such as Magic Mixture, Pandemonium, and Geranium Pond.

Reissues: A Glass Menagerie has both sides of the single. You can also find the a-side on Rubble Volume 10 and Psychedelic Pstones Volume 1, the flip on Voyage Through The Sugarcube.

Classic Singles #81: The Eyes – Man With Money / You’re Too Much (1966)

TEyes_labelhe Eyes were from Ealing in West London, changing their name from the more prosaic Gerry Hart and The Hartbeats in 1964. The band built up a devoted local following at venues such as the Ealing Club and Les Wilde’s dance hall and a demo disc lead to a five-year contract with Mercury Records.

Many would choose the a-side of their 1965 debut, ‘When The Night Falls’ as the outfit’s finest moment and it is indeed a prime slice of UK mod / freakbeat but my favourite is the raw flip side of their third single, ‘You’re Too Much’ from May 1966.

The a-side ‘Man With Money’ was selected by the record label and is a cover of an Everly Brothers’ number that had appeared as the flip to their October 1965 single ‘Love Is Strange’. It’s a pretty faithful rendition, though, as you might hope and expect, slightly more hard edged than the folk rocking original.

‘Man With Money’

‘You’re Too Much’ is a barnstorming fuzz rocker with a brooding, somewhat menacing quality. The striking lead guitar line that returns throughout the song seems to work as much as anything because it sounds (to my ears anyway) marginally out of tune with the rhythm, but that slightly jarring effect is ultra effective! Strong vocals and harmonies too, and the song ends in a pleasing wash of reverb.

‘You’re Too Much’

Arrival EP

A picture sleeve EP of the time (shown right) compiled The Eyes’ first two singles. The flip of the second 45, a song titled ‘My Degeneration’ was a response to The Who’s anthemic ‘My Generation’. (The Who incidentally recorded a version of ‘Man With Money’ around the same time as The Eyes though it wasn’t released.)

The band had turned fully professional in 1966 and were playing throughout the UK both as headliners and a support act, but though their live shows were very popular this wasn’t matched by record sales and after one more 45, a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Good Day Sunshine’, another suggestion by the record label that didn’t really suit the group, they called it quits.

The Eyes famously also recorded a covers album for Philips’ Wing label in 1966, Tribute to The Rolling Stones, hastily put together in six hours with a single take for each song and issued under the name The Pupils, as the band had only made the record for the money (the princely sum of £125) and wanted to distance themselves from the release.

Reissues: The Arrival of the Eyes: The Complete Recordings on Acme has all the single sides, demos and outtakes, and the tribute album. ‘You’re Too Much’ is also on Perfumed Garden Volume 1.

Discography

Singles

  • When the Night Falls / I’m Rowed Out (Mercury, 1965)
  • The Immediate Pleasure / My Degeneration (Mercury, 1966)
  • Man With Money / You’re Too Much (Mercury, 1966)
  • Good Day Sunshine / Please Don’t Cry (Mercury, 1966)

EP

  • The Arrival of The Eyes EP (Mercury, 1966)