*** Reviewed by great fellow Adamus67 ***Mandrake Paddlesteamer were one of the few bands explicitly formed to “create an English version of the total music/lifestyle trip then being espoused by the California scene,psychedelia and the hippie ethos.” and if you understand that, then you probably still have a half dozen blacklight posters of topless afro goddesses hanging on your bedroom wall. In other words, while most of the British psychedelic bands – Pink Floyd, Wimple Winch, the Pretty Things, Tomorrow, the Koobas – started out as R&B, jazz or blues bands, the Manrake Paddlesteamer was specifically created to be a psychedelic rock band from the start. Whether that affected their ability to swing, rock or groove like an old R&B, jazz or blues band I don’t know. But judging from what I hear in THESE grooves, it wasn’t a problem.
This is the limited pressing of the LP K-OS Records K-OS 008 - by Mandrake Paddle Steamer, who were renowned in 1969 producing a classic psych single ''Strange Walking Man” b/w “Steam,” one of the first releases recorded at Abbey Road Studios. This is featured on this LP, along with a number of tracks lifted from tape and acetate sources. The quality of the material is very high indeed, and indicate that EMI missed out on another gem by not releasing this material at the time.
But one of the best kept secrets is this second single, only released in Sweden by label Parlophone. I think the track ''Sunlight Glide'' is even better than ''Strange Man Walking'' and it is much rarer! Flip side ''Len'' is a funky instro with mainly breakbeat drums and fuzzy guitars!
Thank you so much Adam for that effort
Mandrake Paddle Steamer made one, now legendary, psychedelic 45 which inevitably interests collectors. The original release of Strange Walking Man is now very expensive to purchase but aside from the disc's reissue by Bam-Caruso in 1988, the 'A' side, Strange Walking Man has also been heavily compiled. It's unusual for a tempo change towards the end where the vocal parts end and the song culminates with an instrumental passage. The track also features some great understated guitar work, and superb trippy lyrics. The flip side, Steam, is a pretty decent keyboard-driven instrumental.
Formed around '67 / '68 when Martin Briley and Brian Engel met at Art School in Walthamstow, London, Brian recalls: "Martin knew a local businessman, John Lindsay who "had some money" and agreed to manage the band. He also knew a keyboard player, Martin Hooker who was playing James Brown/Booker T soul type stuff in a local "mod" band. He gave Hooker a couple of small parcels wrapped up in tin-foil and three days later Martin Hooker had become a committed underground music freak!! I still don't know what was in the small parcels!"
"Barry Nightingale's dad owned a rubber factory in Romford, next door to the Reslo mike factory where I worked for a while... he was a convenient drummer with a house out in the country where we could rehearse!! Anyway about a week later we found Paul Riordan who was working in an art studio in Gower St., W.1. and asked him to join. I was playing bass at the time, but I was crap and it was decided that I was a much better songwriter and lead vocalist, so that's what I became with Paul taking over on bass."
In order to prove that they were different from the other English "psychedelic" bands churning out rehashed Tolkein and second hand Timothy Leary they deliberately chose material which Brian thought would be politically incorrect: "Our songs tended to be based on authentic blood thirsty Viking sagas (as opposed to Bored Of the Rings), or Beowulf, or urban myths about East End sex criminals or circus dwarves... or anything outrageous. The closest we came to commerciality was a few songs using Ray Bradbury out of Shakespeare as our influence, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The October Country etc."
About this time the band were "discovered" by Shapiro Bernstein publishers, and together with Rob Finnis (now rock author) did a bizarre audition at EMI in Manchester Square. Originally their manager had arranged that we would be signed to the new Harvest label, but EMI were a bit wary about having such an unusual band on the label (Brian for instance, wanted to issue a pro-US press release saying that they hoped the U.S. would nuke the Vietcong!!) He recalls: "We predated the outrageous Punk excesses of 1977/8 by ten years!! Nobody ever knew how to categorise us. Our single, Strange Walking Man was the mildest of our songs, and our new label Parlophone couldn't see anything bizarre in it at all. It was, in fact, about a guy suffering from a very bad trip but maybe it was about a boy who's girlfriend had left him....."
Their second 45, Sunlight Glide/Len (Parlophone SD 6072) 1969, was only released in Sweden, though no-one seems to know quite how this came about. It was written by Clae Fellbom and Calvin Floyd, two film producers responsible for a minor Swedish film called 'Skottet', which the songs were included in. Sunlight Glide is a melancholic, slow number, quite unlike this first 45. The flip side, Len, is a fuzzy instrumental.
Brian Engel left Mandrake Paddlesteamer in around August 1970, in order to arrange exhibitions for Art degrees etc. and although the band carried on as a four piece instrumental for a few months (doing the first Isle Of White Festival, as Brian recalls), Briley then left and the band split up.
In late '72 Briley and Engel joined forces again to form Prowler, which they intended to be a more commercial form of Mandrake, although the songs were just as bizarre.... Brian remembers: "There was one really good Clapton-esque riff based song called Creeping Tom, which I really liked which contained the lines "I'm creeping round your house to find, What's going on behind your blind, I'm hiding there without a sound, To catch you with your sashcords down" which sounded like a really powerful Cream/Robert Johnson Blues unless you analysed the lyric and found it was about voyeurism.... I supposed it was a bit like Arnold Layne, now I come to think about it."
Prowler managed to release one 45 on Parlophone in 1973: Pale Green Vauxhall Driving Man about a South London pervert - molesting girls, etc, but which was musically a normal sort of family oriented type pop song. The record company were worried about the word "Vauxhall" and deleted the word from the title on the 45 believing that it would be interpreted as advertising!! Never mind the fact that the lyrical content....
An album entitled Liverpool Echo was also intended for release on Spark, but Engel and Briley "fell out with the production team at AIR studios" and pulled the plug on the sessions "in disgust at their unhip, old fashioned approach". Brian remembers: "They wanted us to be like Tom Jones or someone. We said that if we were going to be old fashioned, then we'd be really old fashioned and so we retired to do Everley Brothers songs around the London pubs. However, as fate would have it, we were "discovered" again which resulted in us forming the early seventies band Starbuck, with songwriter/emprasarios Howard and Blaikley who had at the time just lost The Herd."
After this brief period of pop stardom, Briley became disenchanted and joined Greenslade whilst Engel went off to "be artistic and sing on a million sessions". Eventually he was struck down with an acute bout of poverty and so joined a band on RCA which became the first credible English Country band, Limey. "After two albums I was then asked to join a very very commercial pop band which I did. I then discovered where the money disappears to in the music business and I have been chasing songwriters royalties ever since...."
# comment to this review
Martin Briley (01 January 2010 6:45 PM)
Hi, this is Martin Briley.
I assume the text has been copied from one place to another, gradually growing more and more incorrect. You've only got five out of sixteen song titles right, I've never even heard of some of those songs!
You might also want to mention that in the eighties I went on to release three solo albums in the U.S. one of which contained 'Salt In My Tears', a top 40/MTV hit single in the U.S.
I also wrote, and continue to write songs for many other artists, I estimate my songs have been on almost thirty millions records.
01.In My Padded Cell
03. Pandemonium Shadow Show (Booger And Dark)
05.The Ivory Castle Of Solikane Itusk
06.Pale Green 'Hmmmm' Driving Man
07.Steam /Drums – Barry Nightingale/
10.Lights Camera Action
11.Don't Let Me Fall
12.Nobody Flies So High
13.Only Seagulls Fly (Goodbye Uncle Bradie)
14.The Best Years Of Our Lives
15.Pale Green Vauxhall Driving Man
16.Strange Walking Man /Drums – Barry Nightingale/
Mandrake Paddle Steamer:
Martin Briley -lead guitar, vocals
Brian Engel - vocals
Martin Hooker - keyboards
Paul Riordan -bass
Clem Cattini - drums (tracks: 1 to 6, 8 to 15)
Mandrake Paddle Steamer - Steam
[Rip and Scans by gigic2255]
Links (2 parts): 350 + 270 mb/file