The clock is ticking. A month remains... well, about a month. It’s a record release date, not a rocket launch. About a month remains, and past experience has proven that if you don’t get in there right away, you’re going to be thrown to the wolves of eBay et al. And, if you don’t get in there right away, it probably serves you right.
There’s not many bands named after the second best Christmas present you ever recieved - it was a long time ago, and I don’t recall all the details. But the slides were pale green, the microscope worked, there were some test-tubes filled with mysterious liquids, and there was a dead bee in a bottle. Wow. I got a dead bee for Christmas. Jingle bells.
The Chemistry Set, for it is they, have no dead bees. At least that they want to talk about. They do, however, have an ongoing love for Love, so when Fruits de Mer first hatched the idea of seven bands playing seven tributes, and nailing each one to the time and tides of late sixties West Coast psychedelia, the Set’s Dave McLean admits, “it was a no brainer when we were asked to participate. Our favorite band of all time is Love and Forever Changes is our favorite album.”
The album’s charms are manifold, he continues. “Forever Changes is the most original Psychedelic-Pop record of all time. I often picture myself as a Psychedelic kid living in 67, and enjoying all the musical fruits that the period had to offer and then WHAM...... up comes Forever Changes.
“It must have really blown people’s minds. In that period you would have been listening to backwards guitars, phasing and songs about ‘love,’ and then along comes Johnny Mathis singing one part Rodgers and Hammerstein, one part Mariachi pop and one part Classical. Mix all that up with incredibly original and haunting lyrics, melancholic orchestration, imaginative bass and drums and superbly original lead guitar. It took my breath away the first time I heard it and it still does today. I have bought or lent this record to so many people from many different schools of musical taste and they all love it.”
This is not the Chemistry Set’s first stab at covering Love. “We first recorded a cover of ‘A House Is Not a Motel’ on an album called Wake up Sometime, twenty-four years ago. We always wanted to revisit it as the version we did was ok but we felt we could do it better and with a bit more of a twist.”
“The song begins “unplugged”. We wanted to strip it down and make it more intimate and add some vocal harmonies that are different to the original Love version.
“But it would have been a bit boring to do the whole thing ‘unplugged,’ so we thought that bringing in some drums before the end guitar solos would give people a bit of a surprise. We ‘phased’ the drums to give them a more psychedelic feel and then you have the dueling lead guitars, but we also added a 12 string Ricky doing a kind of Neil Young / Buffalo Springfield riff. Finally, we couldn’t resist adding an explosion; a la the end of ‘7&7 is,’ and then some Spanish guitar on the outro. Every cover we have ever made we give it a twist, so this is no exception.”
For the b-side, “Live and Let Live,” the performance remains reasonably faithful to the original for the main part of the song... with added electric ukulele, “which has a lovely warm folky sound that fits well with the vibe.” But it’s the outro that they keep you waiting for, as a section of the Electric Prunes’ “Get Me To The World On Time” is airlifted into earshot. The Prunes being another of the Chemistry Set’s faves, and the Chemistry Set of course being one of Goldmine’s faves.
A month remains....
Seven and Seven Is... seven singles by eight bands, together to reinterpret songs by eight classic US psych bands - The Bevis Frond, The Byrds, Sendelica, 13th Floor Elevators, King Penguin, Moby Grape, Black Tempest, spirit....and much more... is available for pre-order now.