The 23rd Turnoff's The Dreams of Michaelangelo on RPM is the story behind their Michaelangelo single which was released on the Deram label in 1967, and their earlier merseybeat side from the mid-60s when the group was known as The Kirkbys.
Not only is this is a collector's treasure trove of lost 60s sides, it's also another missing connection between the UK psychedelic pop of the late 1960s from The Beatles, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd and more modern UK music from bands like Broadcast.
The Dreams of Michaelangelo contains the three singles released by The Kirkbys and the sole single released by The 23rd Turnoff, along with some alternate and unreleased demos - all of which were written by 23rd Turnoff/Kirkbys vocalist and guitarist Jimmy Campbell.
The Kirkbys started out with the merseybeat sound ('Cos My Baby's Gone and She'll Get No Lovin' That Way with their fiery harmonica and Liverpudlian harmony vocals) and soon moved onto the Dylan inspired folk rock sound (Don't You Want Me No More and Bless You, which both have chiming guitars for their folk rocking melodies - and super sweet alternate demos of each), and they finally reached a pinnacle with the fuzz box Stones' sound (It's a Crime has some sweet fuzz guitar and Stones' style rhythm with harmony vocals over the top). It's a Crime was produced by Phil Solomon who also produced Them and Twinkle.
The Kirkbys recorded and released a handful of these fine singles which paint a picture of the early songwriting skills of Campbell and gang. Included here for the first time are the unreleased versions of Don't You Want Me No More and Bless You that actually outshine the single released versions. The band also cut some lost demos with Joe Meek (not included here), one of which ended up being covered by the Swinging Blue Jeans, while She'll Get No Lovin' That Way (included here) was also covered by The Escorts.
When The Kirkbys changed with the psychedelic times to become The 23rd Turnoff (named after the highway exit to Liverpool), they also started to write more interesting and downbeat tunes, leading up to their psychedelic pop single masterpiece Michaelangelo (which has been compiled and can be found on Rubble 12: Staircase To Nowhere, The Psychedelic Trip Volume 1, The Psychedelic Scene and Deram Dayze) and it's b-side Leave Me Here (which can be found on The British Psychedelic Trip Volume 1).
There are actually 3 versions of Michaelangelo included, two early demo versions where you can make out the lyrics more clearly and the final single release. You can also hear the genesis of this tune, from the simply scrubbed guitar version, to the more Pink Floyd-like bassline version, and finally the fullblown studio version which has Big Jim Sullivan playing guitar on it. It's definitely a masterpiece of British psychedelic pop.
The b-side to Michaelangelo, Leave Me Here is also a worthy track which was inspired by John Lennon's In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works. It has a sitar sound on it, with some cool vocal percussive sounds and an Indian inspired melody.
Included along with these two trippy masterpieces are some unreleased gems like (Not) A Penny in My Pocket (which is like a lost Kinks song, showing the hard work put into being in a band and how little money is received in the end), and Dreaming - both of which were demos made for George Martin that were never taken further.
Following the 23rd Turnoff, Jimmy Campbell recorded some solo albums, as well as worked with Billy Kinsley on the Rockin' Horse album which was recently reissued by Rev-Ola.
This is a warts and all compilation - and is also presented in strict chronological order. This can be frustrating because there are a couple of fairly unlistenable demos (like I'll Be 'Round and Flowers Are Flowering) which seem to be fine songs but are very hard to listen to all the way through because of the crunchy demo sound. Also, if you are dying to hear the greatest moment on the compilation (Michaelangelo), you have to sift through all that comes before it since it's the last track.