Friday, 5 August 2016

PAUL MARTIN – IT HAPPENED (Out-Sider Records LP, CD, D/L).

New from the Spanish Psych re-issue label Out-Sider is It Happened by New York singer-songwriter Paul Martin, which is a revamped version of a compilation of singles, studio demos and acetates that were originally collected for a 1996 release on Distortions Records. Between the years 1966 to 1967 Paul Martin (born Paul Myerberg) recorded some impressive demos at Tower Sound Studios in midtown Manhattan, which ran the gamut from Garage Rock to jangly Folk Rock, Soul-Pop and orchestrated baroque Pop Psych. There were a couple of singles released that are now much-desired collectable rarities for Garage Rock purists………….the first single ‘It Happened’, which sounds like a fuzzed out collision between Garage Rock and Northern Soul that still retains an uncanny energy and freshness 50 years on, appeared on the Philadelphia-based IMPEX label in 1966 but sank with a lack of publicity/air-play being cited for its lack of sales. This was followed by another single on Paul Martin’s own Rodin label a year later, ‘The Last Remains Of Our Love’ was another impressive Garage Rock gem which would not be out of place on any 60s Garage/Psych compilation. Flip the 45 and this was backed with ‘The Fairy Princess’, an orchestrated dreamy Pop-Psych track where violins and cellos took the place of fuzz and distortion……cheese compared to the A side’s chalky Garage Punk. After this single, Paul Martin disappeared without trace never releasing any more records………Paul Myerberg worked as a recording engineer at Bell Sound between 1968 -1970, where he continued to record demos till his move to Southern California, eventually settling in Los Angeles, where he worked in set design and began writing screenplays. 30 years after these records failed to set the world on fire, Distortions collected together the cuts from the singles with another 14 tracks taken from studio demos and acetates for the first ever Paul Martin album release, now long deleted. For many people, this was the first introduction to the music of Paul Martin, the man with a Brill Building inside his head and at the time was described as "An Aladdin's cave of well-crafted Garage Pop"………… featuring new artwork, newly remastered sound, insert with rare photos / liner notes and one previously unreleased track from 1967 Out-Sider now re-release this over looked NYC Psych/Pop oddity.

It appears that the main appeal of Paul Martin to many Psych enthusiasts was the rarity of the singles, which change hands for a pretty penny and it has been said that “His work has some scruffy appeal for obsessive '60s collectors, though, simply because there were few other Garage artists of the time that employed such liberal, eclectic Folk and Pop influences”, which really does the man a disservice. There is absolutely no argument that Paul Martin is not in the same league as the late 60’s Singer/Songwriter big hitters and it is debatable whether he was in the league a few levels below but along with the two singles there are several really cool tunes on this record that stand up against many of the Garage Psych obscurities of the era.  Growing up in Manhattan, Paul was influenced by the exciting music of the day, like the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and New York Pop/Soul which all seeped into his prolific writing; he had the songs, but not the breaks. It’s not that he wasn’t a marketable commodity, mixing the Coffee House troubadour with the jangly Folk Rock of the Byrds and fuzzed out suburban Garage Rock, he should and could have made a bigger splash. Originally recorded on a 4-Track desk, the tracks have been freshly re-mastered and for 50 year old demos, although not pristine, the sound is still pretty good and It Happened includes some excellent songs that in a perfect world would have received wider recognition……for example, Echo’, with its killer fuzz riff and swirling organ, is a lost Nuggets classic as is Garage/Psych stomper ‘All That’s Left’, ‘You Don't Seem To Understand’ is the Byrds sing Dylan, the baroque pop of ‘I Want You’ is straight outta the Brill Building and you can imagine it being covered by The Monkees………..but it didn’t happen and thems the breaks. Although by no means is this an essential purchase, however it’s an intriguing insight into one of the many artists that struggled to get their songs heard in the mid-sixties and there are enough groovy tunes here to keep the committed PsychHead more than interested.

Out now on Out-Sider Records, It Happened is available on vinyl, CD and as a digital download. Available from the Guerssen Records website or their Bandcamp page at and in the USA the album is being distributed by Forced Exposure.


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