Try as I may, I couldn't find anything on this release, nor on John Street and his inmates. John seems to have kept a pretty low profile. There is an author named John Street who wrote a book called "Rebel Rock", released in 1986, but I can't find any connection. On to DM 148.
This stoned sounding gem is the B side to "Love". The "Sleep" certainly sound like their name, as they sing about an abandoned insane asylum near Sunbury on Thames. The drifty sounding vocals are perfect for a song about 'a twilight world', where children 'play on swings and roundabouts, some of them will never get out'. Sounds positively creepy and you can easily conjure up the look, smell and feel of an abandoned asylum. Both this and the A side were written by group member Tony Rees.
"Love" by The Virgin Sleep is one of my favourite records from 1967. It takes me straight back to the year when music seemed to progress, change, and startle at an amazing rate. Released Sept 1, 1967, the Virgin Sleep hailed from the Richmond area of London. A four piece, they were originally Themselves, but changed to a more Kings Road sounding name, and recorded this vaguely Eastern sounding song, loosely based on a Buddhist chant. It deftly blends sitars with a string section and is musical nirvana to those of us who enjoy Psych mixed with a strong batch of pop. This song should have been a huge hit, but unfortunately, it didn't bother the charts. Fortunately, Deram gave them a 2 record deal, because The Virgin Sleep released one more single, which we will come to in due time. The B side of this record, "Halliford House" is a worthy contender itself and we will take a listen to it next. These are the kind of records that made Deram such a great label!
The Syn return for their second and last single, with a very Summer of '67 song about flower power. "Flowerman" is a bit of a treacly delight if you like your BritPsych on the twee side. Released in Sept of 1967, "Flowerman" didn't bother the charts. Today, most people prefer the B side, an ode to the "Fourteen Hour Technicolour Dream" happening that took place at the Ally Pally in London in April of 67, as a fund raiser for the underground newspaper, the International Times. The Syn included Chris Squire and Peter banks, who a short time later founded Yes! and released three wonderful albums before traipsing off into prog self indulgence. But at the end of the Summer of 1967, the Syn left us with a piece of era memorabilia that seems impossibly naive today, but seemed oh so real for a short time during the Summer Of Luv.
Two former members of the Overlanders, who did a nice version of "Michelle", get together as Cuppa T and record the self penned "Miss Pinkerton", a song about a very bored office worker, somewhat in the vein of Cat Steven's "Matthew and Son" lyrically. I love the over-the-top production with piccoloes, Indian style guitar sounds, and a marching band sound. Hard to figure this song and the British public didn't take to it enough to get it into the charts. A shame because it's a nice slice of 1967 BritPop. We'll meet Cuppa T one more time for their second Deram release.
Released in August of 1967, Bill Fay's debut record, "Some Good Advice", is a brilliant record described as "surrealistic Dylanesque lyrics alloyed to a piano based melodic pop structure, overlaid with some fluorishes from organ and mellotron". The flip side is the equally riveting "Scream In The Ears". Unfortunately for Bill, it failed to bother the charts and he disappeared from public view until 1970, when he put out an album, "Bill Fay", which was very different from this single, with slightly darker lyrics and string arrangements that are not particularly sympathetic to his songs. He released a second album in 71, "Time Of The Last Persecution" and on the cover he appeared to have given up on life to some degree and it's filled with dark introspective songs.
John Carter and Ken Lewis were a very prolific songwriting and performing team in the 60s. Starting with Carter-Lewis and The Southerners in 62 (with Jimmy Page on guitar) and on to The Ivy League, where they backed The Who on "I Can't Explain", and they had a string of chart successes with songs like "Willow Tree", "Funny How Love Can Be" and "Tossing and Turning" . There were a lot of personnel changes with The Ivy League, and Carter-Lewis moved on to other projects. But in 1967, with kaftans, joss sticks and flower power in the air, they came together to write "Let's Go To San Francisco". "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie was a chart success at the time, and Carter-Lewis decided to do their own variation of this theme of flower wearing love children in San Francisco, and this was the result. Upon release, it hurried up the charts to peak at 4 and you couldn't avoid it if you listened to Radio Luxembourg, like I did, that Summer. Named after a children's show on BBC, the Flowerpot Men were marionettes aimed at kids, but with some adult themes to keep the grown-ups watching. This video is taken from the Nov 25th, 1967 episode of Beat Club. This is the 'road' version of the FPM. John Carter, who wrote and sang it, didn't want to tour. Ironically on this same episode of Beat Club, Scott McKenzie also performed his hit. A lot of San Francisco for one show! The Bee Gees were also on, singing about "Massachusetts". Ironically I was on Haight Street today in San Francisco, so DM 142 is meant to be I think!
Proving that Deram was, after all, a Decca subsidiary, DM 141 is an easy listening instrumental that very nearly wanders into spaghetti western territory. Can't say that I can tell you who "Martin" is, and why his sounds are all that magical. They released an album on Deram in '68, pictured here, and it is filled with stuff like a "Taste Of Honey". They even did "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman". Ron Grainer wrote the liner notes, who was known as the composer of music for "The Prisoner", "The Omega Man", "Doctor Who" and "To Sir With Love". Vic Smith took a breather from working with Pink Floyd to engineer these magical sounds. Martin's Magic Sounds.