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Friday, 21 July 2017
TOBY TWIRL - TOBY TWIRL (Mega Dodo LP, CD).
Seeing that 60s Psychedelia really didn’t hit the UK provinces full on until 1970, there was always a flip side to Swinging London. For every band of dilettante acid dandies freaking out at the Roundhouse or getting it together in the country there were a dozen hard gigging bands playing the northern clubs and discotheques every weekend. Apart from a few isolated pockets outside of the groovy epicenter, the fall out from the Summer Of Love was a London thing…………that’s where the really ambitious bands had to base themselves, however seeing that the Pop charts were full of hip tunes, a watered down version of Psychedelia seeped into almost every town in the UK. There were loads of venues and a load of bands available to play them……….they were hardworking professional musicians who could make a decent living mixing a dash of cabaret and comedy with a set of Freakbeat/Psych tinged pop tunes and if they were lucky they would be given an opportunity to record a single. Toby Twirl were one such band, originally from Newcastle they were playing regular gigs between 1968 until 1971……..they had the threads but were slightly uncool and no doubt the closest they came to a psychedelic experience was the hallucinogenic effects of Newcastle Brown Ale, but by the sound of their long overdue debut album they could really tear up a dancefloor on a Saturday night in Blackburn. The tapes of previously thought lost demo and showcase recordings were recently discovered by the band's drummer, John Reed, which have been carefully transferred to a digital medium and professionally mastered. This mix of original songs with a collection crowd pleasing hits of the day is soon to be released as a limited edition 180 gram LP and CD by the good folk at Mega Dodo.
Toby Twirl were formed from the ashes of several Newcastle Beat groups and were briefly signed to Decca Records. The group released three singles on Decca……..'Back In Time', ‘Toffee Apple Sunday' and 'Movin' In'. Although critically acclaimed in later years, as these tracks have appeared on countless Freakbeat/Psych Pop compilations in the last two decades, none of the singles charted due to lack of major radio play at the time. The lost recordings that appear here walk a fine line between a cheesy desperation to get a hit single and a solid night club act. Side one of the album is very Pop orientated but includes a very cool cover of the Beatles ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man and the aforementioned Freakbeat tune ‘Movin In’. Side two is bonkers…….in a good way. There are covers of Steppenwolf and The Guess Who (‘Born To Be Wild’ and ‘American Woman’), a straight cover of ‘Something’ (for the slow dance), The Everly Brothers ‘When Will I Be Loved’ done Trojan moonstomp style and a fantastic cover of the Easybeats hit ‘Good Times’ which sounds like a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels out take. Toby Twirl were late to the Psychedelic party and although there are some great tracks here, it sounds as if they were at heart a cabaret band (all be it a very successful one and were a top draw around the North of England) and played what worked for a beered up Saturday night crowd as opposed to finding their own path. They were good at what they did………the songs are played immaculately, the close harmonies are as tight as you like and they were a proper party band but they lacked the visceral energy and originality of bands such as Tomorrow or the Move and remind us of the Rock influenced club/cabaret bands that used to rock up on TV talent shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces in the early 70s. It’s a strange release for Mega Dodo, but all the same if you dig the seriously obscure side of British Pop Sike this will be right up your street. It’s a rare glimpse of the other side of the Psychedelic 60s.
Due for limited release 06/10/2017, keep ‘em peeled for pre-orders.