MIND DE-CODER 17 (O1-07-10)

MIND DE-CODER 17 (O1-07-10)


“In the lazy water meadow I lay me down…”



What a marvellous way to get the show started – XTC’s alter-egos, The Dukes Of Stratosphear and my favourite track from their brilliant little debut album 25 O’CLOCK, released back in 1987. It has actually just received a well-deserved re-release in a sumptuous gate-fold cover and extra disc featuring demos and extra tracks that deliver up a dizzyingly exhuberant rush of dainty kaleidoscopic pop that is whimsical, bright and full of trippy psychedelic gems such as this one. It’s one of my favourite trip albums and is absolutely worth saving up your pocket money for.


Ah, a genuine 60’s curio – Mike McGear and Roger McGough were part of the Liverpool comedy-poetry-music group The Scaffold, who found fame and fortune with such hits as Lily The Pink, say. In 1968 McGear and Mcgough released McGOUGH AND McGEAR as a duo and, legend has it, got Paul McCarney, McGear’s brother, into produce it and possibly jam on a few tracks (McGear having changed his surname to avoid trading in on his brother’s name). McCartney also brought along his mate Jimi Hendrix to play guitar and therefore, according to legend, it’s the only collaboration between Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix officially released on record. Other guests include Dave Mason, Spencer Davis, John Mayall, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Jack Bruce – so when it grooved it did so quite nicely; unfortunately, there were only four songs on the album, the rest being taken up with Roger McGough’s poems. You can see why it must have a seemed like a good idea at the time, but if So Much In Love is anything to go by, you just wish that Roger had spent more time making the tea, leaving everyone else to get on with it. A semi-legendary classic.


And speaking of 60’s curio’s – The Tokens are most famous for their chart-topping 1961 hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight and pretty much remained a doo-wop group for their next six albums until the 60’s finally caught up with them and they released a groovy album in 1967 called IT’S A HAPPENING WORLD from which this track is taken – a fine example of psychedelic pop that, sadly, what with The Beatles having just released Sgt. Pepper’s and the rest of the world kinda caught up in the Summer Of Love, nobody was listening to – which is a pity, really, because this track is really rather delightful.


More trippy beats from Amorphous Androgynous and yet another track I’ve plucked from their 2008 recording THE PEPPERMINT TREE AND THE SEEDS OF SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS – a psychedelic soul audio collage ethnic blues mash up of an album.


HOME is the name of the debut album by 21 year old Peter Broderick, which he released in 2008, who records songs of often stunning choral majesty using his two favourite instruments – the voice and the guitar, although he’s not opposed to the odd harmonium, glockenspiel organ, vibraphone, banjo and celeste joining the mix, although never all at the same time. Games is a multi-harmonic affair that sets the tone for the rest of the album and comes over like a beautiful vocal benediction. Exquisite.


Games floats away and does its thing, so I have a little vocal track by In Gowan Ring drift gently in over it, the lovely Once True Love which seems to be a traditional re-working of Scarborough Fair. It doesn’t hang around too long, just let’s you recognise the tune and then fades away again. It can be found on COMPENDIUM: 1994-2000, released in 2000. In Gowan Ring, otherwise known as B’eirth (or possibly Bobin Jon Michael Eirth to his mum), makes music that is sublimely peaceful, vaguely medieval and generally unorthodox – there is more than a touch of the troubador about him, yet despite releasing something like 22 albums a year he remains largely untouched by the world, and indeed, the world remains largely untouched by him.


Richard Norris is one half of Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, and formerly of The Grid, I think, but with The Time And Space Machine he satisfies his itch for cosmic psyche, mind-bending krautrock, lysergic acid folk and warped middle eastern freak beats so, as you can imagine, I think quite highly of him. The Trip is full of middle eastern vibes and can be found on the album VOL. 2, released in 2009.


Classic Pink Floyd at their dreamiest and most pastoral, although strictly speaking, of course, it’s performed entirely by Roger Walters and his contribution to the second disc of the UMMAGUMMA album, released in 1969, whereon each member of the band had half a side each to play with. Grantchester Meadows, in Cambridge, is where Syd Barrett lived and was no doubt the home of the odd acid trip. The track, like the meadows themselves, creates a blank canvas for the idle mind to explore. They’ve probably built a housing estate on it now.


Remembering, out of the blue, the other day, how I used to spend a lot of evening’s at home listening to The Cocteau Twins in my bedsit days, I  recently re-discovered them and allowed myself to be seduced once again by their frankly irresistable charms. Lazy  Calm is taken from the album VICTORIALAND, released in 1986; an album made of snow and ghostly blank spaces so filled with beauty and wonder that it makes the heart ache to listen to them, which is why I listened to them so much in my bed-sit days, I imagine – and why I finally had to move on.


At first glance Joker’s Daughter are an unlikely pairing that, on paper at least, you wouldn’t expect to work – Helena Costas, a bucolic half-Greek folky with a head full of Fotheringay, Pentangle and Vashti Bunyan, and hip-hop producer Danger Mouse, the studio mastermind behind The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley and the Gorillaz’ Demon days  – although from the moment I read about them I became unreasonably excited. It turns out I was right to be – between them they’ve created an album that sounds like a spacey, pastoral mushroom trip through misty Arthurian meadows. Danger Mouse’s production is as light as a feather and never dominates the songs, whilst Costas’s haunting fair-maiden delivery has the quality of a fresh folk-pop excursion to a Victorian fayre, although I have no idea what she’s singing about on Jesse The Goat, or
even in what language she’s singing, but it sounds just right. The album, THE LAST LAUGH, released in 2009, has a beguiling, haunting charm – a rich harvest from a broad psychic landscape that’s a sparkling debut for her, and one of his most interesting collaborations. I’m something of a fan, can you tell?


Or, the lovely Marissa Nadler as she’s known round Mind De-Coder central. Mexican Summer is taken from her 2007 album SONGS III: BIRD ON THE WATER, an album that details her pensive loneliness and gorgeous isolation with songs that shiver with acoustic wonderment. She’s joined by Mind De-Coder favourites Espers, who augment her acoustic vision with cello, percussion, mandolin and electric guitars – overall the effect is one of heart-broken desolation and soul-aching beauty, with the odd breath-taking desert sunset thrown in. Lovely, indeed.


St. Etienne’s finest seven and a half minutes, the giddily psychedelic, ambitious and elegant, lemon-flavoured kiss of a song that comes over like a bright hazy morning captured on disc. This was St. Etienne’s attempt at the perfect pop record and indeed it would have been were it not for the aforementioned seven and a half minutes of it, which resulted in it getting zero air play on the nation’s radio waves. The album SO TOUGH, released in 1993, from which it is taken, shimmers like an faded English sea-side town, a wispy maze of memories coloured in with day-glo crayons – it is in many ways the pinnacle of pop perfection and 18 albums or so down the track, it’s still the one I’m waiting for them to beat.


ROCKING HORSE, Kelli Ali’s third release, is an elongated lullaby of an album; steeped in medieval melodies and awash with bucolic charm and whispered, wispy wonder. One Day at a time is the sound of someone simply lost in bliss. In a year that saw Goldfrapp release The Seventh Tree and The Joker’s Daughter introduce themselves to the world, this album is my favourite.


Aah,  THE PERFUMED GARDEN, released in 1968, on which the mysterious and frankly sexy-as-nobody’s-business Chiitra Neogy intones  “Advice For The Lovelorn”, reveals that “Woman Is Like A Fruit”, and offers the “Encouragement Of The Lusty Wife”, all in a sultry and erotic voice awash with hints of a forbidden, oriental knowledge. The album itself is a spoken-word translation of Shaykh Umar ibn Muhammed al-Nefzawi’s famous Arabic 15th century manual of erotic love, with added exotic string arrangements that lend an aura of depth and mystical allure to the pieces. An album absolutely of its time, it also features four classic Indian poems of a sensual and unabashed nature from which Krishna and The Lovely Cowgirls is taken.  We listen to this album all the time round our house.


One of the great lost songs by The Monkees, hidden away on the much unloved HEAD album, released in 1968 to accompany the surrealistic, psychedelic and the largely plotless mobius strip of a film that nobody went to see – needless to say it’s a big favourite of mine. The album is a trip in itself, edited and produced by Jack Nicholson, it includes six new songs and a collage of film dialogue and effects, and this particular track – one of Dolenz’s finest moments.

And that was Mind De-Coder 17. Please mind your head on the way out.

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