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Day #352/365: Audiological Reflections and Pathways #4; a certain high water mark… travelling from a folk rarity to swinging London, The Owl Service and other lysergic gatherings and flickerings…

File under: Trails and Influences: Electronic Ether. Case #48/52.

(Retransmission:) If you should look closely amongst this particular year in the country you may well see that around these parts there has been activity which has involved the encasing of disturbances in the airwaves.

Audiological Reflections and Pathways is inspired by those particular encasings and the related work/creators of said work…

One of which caused my mind to wander towards the explorations of late 1960s/early 1970s acid/psych/left-of-centre folk explorations and related privately issued and hard to find recorded rarities – something of high water mark for such things.

…and then it isn’t long before I start to think and wander about the likes of Mellow Candle – and the work of Alison O’Donnell  – who released a record of such just mentioned explorative folk in 1972.

Mellow Candle-A Year In The Country-1

I particularly like the Mellow Candle connection to swinging London and an almost Smashing Time-esque story of the bank rolling of one of their early recordings by fictional photographic hipster David Hemmings…

Mellow Candle-A Year In The Country-2But even before that, as fifteen-year-olds in the summer of ’68, the nascent Mellow Candle had released a UK single, bankrolled by hip actor David Hemmings and Yardbirds manager Simon Napier Bell. How? ‘We sent tapes to everybody,’ says Alison. ‘We even sent one to RTÉ and they told us to bog off! I remember us getting on a bus and thinking, Well, it’s their bloody loss! We were very young, about thirteen, and God knows what we looked like, dressed in kimonos and whatever. But Clodagh was very single-minded about it.’ One tape, sent to Radio Luxembourg DJ Colin Nichol, scouting for Hemmings’ production company, Hemdale, hit the jackpot. The girls went to London: ‘The three of us were completely overawed with how swinging it was. We were allowed to buy some clothes on Carnaby Street and we thought this was the bees-knees. Colin Nichol was looking after us, walking in front of us through Soho saying, “Come on girls, keep up, stay behind me,” — very strict — with all these people leering out of doorways! So we went to meet David Hemmings and Clodagh’s eldest sister, who was a model at the time and had this mews house and we were just absolutely bowled over. And then we went in to record with this 22-piece orchestra and The Breakaways — Cliff Richard’s backing group, backing us! This was just heaven! It was a great song — great for its time, very dramatic. “Feeling High” it was called, with the other side called “Tea With The Sun”. People said, “How old are these girls? What are they taking?” But it was a one-off thing — I guess they probably thought, quite rightly, that we weren’t ready to do anything with them.’”

(I came across that bank rolling and swinging London connection via Rob Young’s The Films of Old Weird Britain article – see Day #80/365. See here for the source of the story above.)

The-Owl-Service-Gillian Hills-Alan-Garner-television-series-A-Year-In-The-Country-2…and that particular connection takes me to The Owl Service, as one of fictional photographic hipster David Hemmings molls/muses from Blow Up is a certain Gillian Hills, who was a certain fictional Alison Bradley in the cathode ray telling of The Owl Service – and indeed, who was called to duty to perform a touch or so of fashion plate-ing to help send that particular version of the story out into the world (see Day #236/365).

I think as well, when I wander along such pathways and the intermingling of folk music and fashionable interests in the later sixties it wouldn’t be long before my mind turned to what is still one of my favourite places in amongst the ether; Psychedelic Folkloristic (see Day #36/365 around these parts and elsewhere in the ether here).

To quote myself on the self-same place earlier in this particular year in the country:

Psychedelic Folklorist 2What is it? Well, it’s a visual collection of a very specific stylish take on folk and folklore culture; if Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up had taken it’s starting point to be the wald rather than Swinging London, with art direction by Kenneth Anger if he had grown up in a secret garden corner of England rather than California and hung out with Judy Dyble rather than The Rolling Stones… and if the resulting film had been shot on location in a secluded green grove rather than the Kings Road…

…and if this imaginary celluloid dream had a soundtrack where the pastoral-playland-bubble living hipsters of The Touchables (an intriguing film which is also featured in Psychedelic Folkloristic), Miss Jean Shrimpton and her companions etc had been serenaded by late ’60s/early ’70s folk rock rather than Herbie Hancock and psychedelic pop minstrels Nirvana (no, not the well known Nirvana)…

Well, if most of those numerous ifs had happened then the vision and aesthetic that was presented to the world might well have been similar to the one found in Psychedelic Folkloristic.

0001-A Year In The Country-Gather In The Mushrooms…and then probably not much further along that pathway and wandering I may well come across or stop to consider the somewhat superlative Gather In The Mushrooms acid/psych/underground folk gathering and its companion piece Early Morning Hush – which is probably the first place I heard Mellow Candle (and Gather In The Mushrooms in particular was a very particular signpost/touchstone towards this aforementioned particular year in the country).

Mellow Candle song of note: well, for my pennies that would probably be Reverend Sisters; something of a peak of that particular high watermark period. Quite frankly lovely – it’s playing as I type and it is hard to continue onwards as I just want to stop and listen…




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