gullbuy music review

Peculiar Hole in the Sky


Peculiar Hole in the Sky


Big Beat

various artists CD

Peculiar Hole is the SkyThis 60s Australian psychadelic pop compilation is groovy with a capital G. The Rickenbackers and Danelectros are out in full force. The booklet sites the origins of the tracks and it has alot of information on the bands, their output and some of the hurdles they encountered.

Most of the tracks here are from singles that made the charts in Australia. That doesn't mean they're slick. They had very few resources to record and get their music out. This made them take an independent DIY approach. The way they filtered the pop music they heard from the northern hemisphere makes their sound authentic. Many of these bands didn't get to release proper albums. You can only wonder how much more they would have done if they had lived in the US or UK.

The Valentines provide the title track with a grand opening full of horns and strings. The vocals are marvelously over the top. The song changes gears as the chorus with lots of great backup singing splashes down '..watching the whole world from a peculiar hole in the sky..' It's interesting how alot of the punk and indie Aussie bands used horns as part of their sound some 20 years later.

The Iguana 'Imagine This' has some nice off kilter pacing. The band steps back leaving some quieter parts for the chorus to build up and the female backup singers provide some Beach Boys like harmonies. The 'doot doots' almost sound like a faster version of the Beatles guitar riff on 'Getting Better.'

The James Taylor Move have their first entry here with the Eastern flavored 'Still I Can Go On.' The sitar and exotic percussion along with some high pitched guitar notes give it a psych pop raga sound. They must have been listening to the maharishi era Beatles for this one. The singing is unadorned with no backup vocals and it fades out.

The Bucket 'I Can't Help Thinking of You' has some cool wah wah guitar and nasally vocals that remind me of a less tuneful but still charming Nik Salomon along with some neat non rhyming couplets about the usual theme throughout (girls) 'Come on baby ..let me be a man.. trouble is she won't.. let me be what I want to be..' This is the first trippy sounding number so far.

Normie Rowe 'Going Home' has a feel of the first track, a horns and strings laden opening. He sings almost through clenched teeth, repeating the first two words of each verse for emphasis. Towards the end, the brass and violins make for an eerie soundscape.

'House of Bamboo' by Peter Wright has an organ riff running through it that could be as memorable as that infamous one from Question Mark and the Mysterians '96 Tears.' There is some great fuzzy 60s guitar, some fun wobbly ahh ahhs and a nice drum roll build up for the end.

1863 Establishment 'Gained for a Fall' has a neat tremolo in the singing that sounds like a lower pitched Feargal Sharkey and since it was the 60s, hippy thought '..success it takes too long...' The vocals are a little buried in a mix which has another persistent organ riff and some jangly guitar.

Clapham Junction 'Emily on a Sunday' is sing song 'why don't you ask me to tea.... your parents don't approve of me...' nursery rhyme with some impressive drumming and guitar that crash around the singer. I like the high register harmonies where the band slows down a bit for the chorus only to build up and pick up some speed and nice peak at the end.

King Fox 'Unforgotten Dreams' has a flute running throughout. The singing seems slow for the pace of the music maybe because of the solitude '...The way I feel when you're not here brings a darkness into my life...' As the song progresses, the band goes quiet except for a strong organ riff and as the chorus builds, the guitar nearly doubles up with the singing and slowly follows it. Most of the songs on this compilation aren't much over 3 - 4 minutes. This track could have been a bit shorter because the extended atmospherics don't add much. A little editing would have helped.

'Long Live Sivinanda' by Inside Looking Out sounds like a hybrid of other 60s songs all in one, which makes for some interesting sound combinations. They managed to pack alot of different things in a short time. The singing starts out a little slower and speeds up for the chorus 'Long Live Sivinanda...' with rocking guitars and drums crashing everywhere and it's less than 2 and a half minutes long!

Hugo 'Girl in the Garden' starts out with the vocal harmonies faded up to make a cool entrance and handclaps to drive along the rhythm. The singer has a voice that almost reminds me of Marc Bolan 'Girl in the garden won't you talk to me.. you know I'm lonely lonely as can be...'This is probably the grooviest track so far. There are some great guitar riffs that go along with some neat high Danelectro bass notes near the peak.

The Executives are the only female fronted outfit. 'Moving in a Circle' is an original as they recorded a fair amount of covers. I hope this label releases a compilation of girl fronted or all girl groups from that era if someone else hasn't already. That would be something. The song has a spooky piano intro that make way for Carol King's stark vocals. The low key playing creeps in and as she gets to the chorus it goes all trippy. The backing vocals come up and some backwards tracking sneaks in and everything starts swirling around.

Jeff St John & The ID 'Eastern Dream' is sitar free, but still exotic sounding. It's yet another track with a memorable organ riff and some twangy psychadelic guitar, if that's possible. The band starts out at a reasonable pace, builds up and crashes around the singer as he shouts '..I'm going insane..' over and over.

'Zoom Zoom Zoom' by Cam-Pact is from their last session. It has a free wheeling feel even though it's played as a rocker. The guitar echoes the vocals at times 'Zoom zoom we're going bang bang we're already there..' As fun as it sounds, the vocals take on some urgency and get all insistent even though it's about the usual (girl) theme. Maybe it's because it was the last time the band recorded.

'King of the Mountain' by The Proclamation has a Beatles 'I am the Walrus' feel. It has unusual pacing where it builds up and goes fast around the verses and slows down for the chorus where they live up to their name '...I am the king of the mountain!!'. They also throw in a neat keyboard part, some echoing ahh ahhs and guitar for good measure.

'Jon' or the mysterious Jon Blanchfield works with the Gibb brothers (backing vocals) on 'Upstairs Downstairs' which was penned by Barry Gibb. This track moves along at a good clip in a Seeds 'Pushing too hard' way and has lots of horns and tambourine with Blanchfield's urgent vocals '..I am downstairs she is upstairs what the hell is she doing upstairs tormenting my brain..'

Wild Cherries provide the best title so far 'Krome Plated Yabby.' It starts out with some soulful crooning until it changes pacing getting more urgent, sounding a little like Blood Sweat and Tears but it has the best drawn out 'Pleeeease' since Stealers Wheel 'Stuck in the Middle.' They build up to a nice crescendo '..I'll show you babeh..' with a low drum roll and a spooky guitar ending.

The James Taylor Move return with 'Magic Eyes,' one of my favorites from the second half of this compilation. This song has an unusual twist with the title refrain at the beginning of each verse and a chorus in between '.. she can't be seen why oh why..' and the backup vocals reply 'magic eyes' It has everything going for it, great soulful vocals and harmonizing, especially around the 'la la las' before the urgent refrain 'magic eyes' with the band at the right volume quietly behind the singer and building up for the verses. Magic indeed.

Lloyd's World have a whimsical contribution here 'Brass Bird' that has the feel of 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' by The Slickee Boys (maybe a cover, but I don't remember) some 15 years later. I like their take on an old popular standard 'If I walked a million miles, would I see a million smiles?' This is one of the few not about a girl tracks 'Do you see my brass bird do you see it here with me?' I wonder if this is where (The Chills) Martin Phillips got the inspiration (18 years later) for 'Green Eyed Owl.' There are some high (Danelectro?) bass notes and swirling guitar that make for a trippy ending as they repeat the refrain 'Little bird you're a wonderful thing All I want is to hear you sing now'.

R Black and the Rockin' Vs 'Walking and Talking' has a rocking guitar intro and swirly organ riff running throughout. It almost has too many ideas and not enough song to get through it all. The verses are breezy and the singing grows more urgent as the chorus gets closer 'when we go walking... you'll/I'll do the talking...' then some high pitched 'walk talk..' harmonies come in. The lines that follow sound light and breezy again and best of all, there is enough room in this song for all of their ideas.

Dave Miller Set provides the first cover of this compilation 'Mr. Guy Fawkes.' The vocals are faraway and the strings arrangements build up before dropping back a little. I like his delivery of this line 'Tongue in cheek we told a policeman London bridge is falling down again...I've got my love to keep me warm..' The guitar sounds like a plane overhead building up and blends well with these trippy words 'blow you mind and you're clean outta sight' and then we get an explosion. Is it over? No! The strings and guitar meld and return to gradually go back to the beginning.

1863 Establishment 'Picture of a Girl' has a loss theme and an intro with a fine build up. There's a chirpy organ riff throughout, wistful imagery in the lyrics moths on tables, boiling kettles while reading letters and some earnest singing as he gets to the chorus 'Born to lose I just can't win..She's the girl that I can't win unlucky..' It returns to the start after a nice interlude and fades out with lots of great backing la la las.

Escorts 'Sitting by a Tree' has a triangle creeping in at the start. This has a Davy Jones (my second favorite Monkee) feel with some amusing lyrics 'Blow me down sitting on the ground do the ants want my leg or do they want the tree?' The la la las here sound like another instrument. This is another breezy non girl song.

Inside Looking Out turn in a respectable version of Spencer Davis' 'Morning Sun.' Another original would have been better because they had alot of interesting ideas on 'Long Live Sivinada.' Still, the vocals were smoother and fortunately the guitars rocked more.

I knew Cam Pact could do better than 'Zoom zoom zoom' and they have with 'Drawing Room.' It has a howling intros and spacy Moog sound that give way to almost slashing guitar. The singing here is better, over the top and fabulous as he starts out at top volume 'It's so quiet in the drawing room not a sound has been made since you've gone...' the backup singers whisper behind him 'Why did you do it why did you break my heart?' and the singer repeats this as the strings scraped around the quiet part and come in all pretty again. As they buildup towards the end, the guitars strings and singing all melt and go all swirly.

'Watch Out' by Hugo has a neat sci fi scream 'Ahh! Watch out!' at the intro. The guitars are groovy, the singing is all echoes, and the verses go in different directions'Hey watch out...smiling gently would you want to hold me, you'll see I can't get you out of my mind..' The guitars get as echoey as the singing after a couple of verses and after 'don't pass me by..' I thought they were coming back, but that's where it ends, cut off and incomplete.

Marty Rhone 'Tell me Love' has quiet instrumentation at the intro, really mean it singing and great harmonies. It sounds like a simultaneously flowery and revved up old air. There's a folky riff with some interesting percussion and keys 'Life has no beginning and it has no end...' This song also has an end that came too soon. I hope someone unearths a fuller version of this song and the previous one.

---Tina Glyptis, December 17, 2002