20 years ago to the day 4 men walked into a recording studio
in the Medway Delta having been gigging for nearly two years
and gaining considerable acclaim for a bunch of 16 year olds,
the men were Graham Day (Guitar/Vocals), Allan Crockford (Bass)
Johnny Symons (Drums) and Jamie Taylor (Keyboards), they called
themselves The Prisoners.
The result of that 2 day studio visit was 'A Taste Of Pink',
a 12 track debut album released on their own label (Own Up)
that took an unsuspecting British music scene by storm. New
Avenger Magazine said 'This LP just screams Small
Faces, from the irresistible chorus of 'Better In Black'
right through to the closing chorus 'Don't Call My Name', it
really is the most authentic '60s sounding record I have ever
In an interview at the time Bass player Allan Crockford cited
their influences as 'Small Faces, Jimi
Hendrix Experience, The Nice, The Doors, early Pink Floyd, Pretty
Things and The Creation.'
The original pressing of 500 copies soon sold out and more had
to be pressed, in the meantime they were gigging all over the
place and gaining a loyal fanbase. 12 months later they were
signed up by Big Beat and went back into the studio, surfacing
with the psychedelicised 'Thewisermiserdemelza'.
Soon they were hot property and became regulars at one of my
favourite venues of all time, The Hammersmith Clarendon Ballroom
as one of THE Garage/Psych bands of the time, playing alongside
The Playn Jayn, The Milkshakes, Sunglasses
After Dark, The Scientists and The Stingrays.
The story of The Prisoners has
a sad ending, after releasing 'Revenge Of The Prisoners' (Pink
Dust 1984), 'The Last Fourfathers' (Own Up 1985) and 'In From
The Cold' (Countdown 1986) which was never really liked by the
band and left them in wrangles with Stiff Records (who owned
Countdown) and in September of that year after months of frustration,
poor distribution deals and stress they played their last gig
at The 100 Club on London's Oxford Street.
were only two bands I listened to in the 80s - the Prisoners
and New Order" Tim Burgess - The Charlatans
a man to give up easily, Graham Day soon put another band
together with Allan Crockford called The
Prime Movers who released several albums, 'Sins Of
The Fourfathers' (Unique 1989), 'Earth Church' (Cyanide 1991)
and 'Arc' (Cyanide 1993). They split in 1993 and briefly formed
the short lived Planet who after
releasing a couple of singles split before the year was out.
2 - That Was Then, This is NOW...
So, to bring this history lesson up to date, all was not lost
as by 1998 Graham Day had put together The
SolarFlares along with original Prisoners
member Allan Crockford, Ex-Prime Movers
drummer Wolf and more recently Hammond Organ wizard Parsley
playing both Farfisa Compact (as used by Rick Wright on Piper
At The Gates Of Dawn) and a Hammond L100.
Their debut album was 'Psychedelic Tantrum' (Twist 1999),
followed by 'That Was Then...And So Is This' (Twist 2000).
'Look What I Made Out Of My Head' sees a return to Big Beat
for The SolarFlares in what is
their strongest ever album, still capturing that trademark
visceral Garage/Trash edge that made The
Prisoners so unique and exciting as well as moving
forward, showing Graham Day's never ending talent for brilliant
songwriting in an age of younger Garage Bands such as Von
Bondi, The White Stripes and The
Hives who should really take a look at these guys.....they
'wrote the book' when it comes to the current guitar based
Garage Band sound over 20 years ago and are way overdue the
wider recognition they should have gotten years ago.
You cannot get more of a Bona Fide Garage sound than this
album, the salubrious sounding 'Recorded at Priestfields,
Rochester, at the cutting edge of 8-Track recording technology'
actually translates to an 8 track Ampex, a couple of compressors
and some mikes in Graham Day's garage........you can't get
MORE garage than that!!
The SolarFlares value the songs
and the performance over technology and quite rightly so,
not only that, using their 'Garage Studio' they also get total
control over the recording process and can take as long as
they like to get things the way they want them. The whole
album was recorded and mixed in under six weeks, again all
done at Graham Day's house, the exception being 'Reflections'
that was recorded at Toerag in London, a popular studio for
bands like the 'Flares due to it being crammed full of vintage
Crockford says of the LP "I thought when we rehearsed
the songs that it would turn into a major psychedelic album,
but it's still as angry and spiteful as ever, despite the
spacey touches. Sort of Punk Floyd."
'Punk Floyd', this phrase totally sums up the general vibe
of this album with the trademark SolarFlares
sound being melted and twisted my Parsley's keyboard wizardry.
For newcomers, you will find influences pouring in from all
sides....The Who, Small Faces, Hendrix,
Pink Floyd, 60's Garage Bands and more, all played
with real power.
From the opening power chords of 'State Of Mind' there is
not a weak track on this album and even after umpteen play's
you will NOT tire of these dudes!!
We generally play review albums a minimum of 10 times before
writing a review, this album has been played
at least 100 times between receiving
it and writing this review, it really is THAT good.
'State Of Mind' is crashing power chords, thick layers of
organ and awesome drumming, the opening seconds bringing back
memories of The Who at their
best before it settles into a fast Garage groove with Day's
snarling vocals backed up with a thumping bass and Wolf's
drumming......WOW I just LOVE drumming like this.......so
many bands have drummers that just bash away, keeping time
and generally holding things together......this dude is all
over the place, thrashing his kit to within an inch of it's
life right up to the fade out!!. 'Feet The Wrong Way Round'
is another stomping track with a high power Mod vibe to it,
full of Parsley's organ and that Wolf guy's killer drumming
again....'Tired Of Being Abused', a powerful story of being
ignored and abused by a woman, with powerful vocal harmonies
and some wonderful guitar.
'Girl In A Briefcase' is quite possibly a tongue in cheek
response to the cult Sixties TV show Man In A Suitcase featuring
Richard Bradford as McGill, an ex-CIA agent who had been wrongly
accused of treason, it certainly has all the hallmarks of
a 60's TV Theme tune being totally instrumental, full of Wah-Wah
guitar and huge chunks of Hammond organ. 'In Your Hair' has
a kind of Beatles meets Power
Pop sound to it, with some nice Bass hooks and a wonderful
Farfisa groove winding through it amongst the power guitar.
'Watch From The Shadows' one of my favourite tracks from the
album has some excellent Syd Barrett
style guitar effects and builds into a powerful song and at
about 2:40 Parsley launches into a haunting Farfisa piece
that tantalisingly echoes See Emily Play for a few brief (psychedelic)
seconds before Day's guitar comes crashing back in taking
the song back to reality before ending.
One of Britain's best bands just got better with this tight
and visceral masterpiece of it's genre, don't
leave home without one, in fact leave your cellphone at home
and take this instead.
are a 1000 names for God and one of them is Graham Day..
Reviewed by pOoTer
- December 2002