With the spirit of John Cage in my soul and the lack of folding money in my wallet I decided to do something rather peculiar and different. I stuck my hand into a box of Cee-Dees stashed in my closet and decided to review the first disque that I picked, just as long as it wasn't something that I already reviewed in this blog and would spin on one of my various fickle players.
After two tries what should pop up but this obscuro classic which I don't think I mentioned in these "pages" before, a collection of classic sides by the English group the Smoke (not to be confused with any other acts of the same name). I first heard about 'em when Greg Shaw reviewed a '76 reissue of their material on the short-lived Gull label, while Jymn Parrett's writeup in the final issue of DENIM DELINQUENT where he mentioned getting this from Stooges fanclub president Harald Inhulsen really whetted my whistle to be corny 'bout it! And who but the most curmudgeonly of readers wouldn't admit that with recommendations from these two fanzine giants how could I go wrong? At least I was getting my recommendations on a seventies fan-based level 'stead of a current everybody knows about this stuff awlready rah-rah which I must admit feels a whole lot better because back then hardly anybody knew worth crap and when the likes of Shaw and Parrett spouted words, they were words of gold!
Goin' into this cold-like I can't tell you exactly which tracks came from albums or b-sides or were previously unreleased but whatever the situation is these twenty tracks hold up cohesive-like as a fine example of late-sixties English pop-psychedelic rock. Nothing as raucous as what was happening on the stages of Middle Earth or Happening 44 but a whole lot more satisfying than the expected sudsy housewife fodder that was getting the big BBC push.
Naturally the hit starts things off, a good hard wah romper with the standard sneaky LSD reference that was obv. gonna get 'em bounced off the radio (they later tried the same giggly sneakaroonie on "Have Some More Tea" which didn't work that time!). The rest have a great '67 cheeze pop style that sounds like almost-there Creation/John's Children musings that are still trying to appeal to the ironed-hair/gum wrapper chain teenage gal crowd. And y'know what, it holds up as a cohesive whole (even for cohesive holes like myself) as it teeters between teenybop and freakbeat perhaps alienating both camps but 45 years later is it really gonna matter?
All I care about right now's the extremely CHOCOLATE SOUP-ish "Sydney Gill" and his fanciful dream machine, not forgetting their take on the Dirty Wurds' sixties punk legend "Universal Vagrant" and hey, what was "Victor Henry's Cool Book" all about anyway? Betcha it had some pretty hot pix in it, but even if you aren't a peep-thriller you should find something of worth on MY FRIEND JACK, unless you tuned in looking for CLASSIC ROCK DRIBBLES or some similar-minded blog by mistake. Y'know, it has happened before.