Another year has passed and again that time is upon us to announce the Pooterland Album Of The Year 2002.

We have lost track of exactly how many albums we have received for review over the last year and most have been very good and very interesting. There was one album that really grabbed us the first time it was played, it had so many good qualities that it was immediately put on the shortlist and that was where it stayed, virtually unchallenged.
At this point we must mention its closest contender, Escapade - Rule #3. This in itself is a brilliant album and easily worth awarding Album Of The Year 2002. Not an album that can easily be compared to the band that DID get the award as both their styles of music are very different.

The band we did choose have been around in various guises for over 20 years now and it would not be an overstatement to say they have probably never released a bad album.
They have one of Britains best songwriters at their helm, a man we would put up there with Steve Marriott and Paul Weller, they have one of the tightest and most exciting rhythm sections you will ever hear and also have their own unique sound, not easy in this current climate of bands of similar ilk.
These guys were here first though and they have stood the test of time, influencing countless bands over the years, but sadly not getting the recognition they deserve.

So we are going to set the record straight on these unsung heroes and Britains Best Kept Secret, without further ado we give you the Pooterland Album Of The Year 2002:

The SolarFlares - Look What I Made Out Of My Head
(Big Beat CDWIKD 20)
 
 
Nearly 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 heard...'
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.

"There were only two bands I listened to in the 80s - the Prisoners and New Order" Tim Burgess - The Charlatans

Never 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.

Part 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 valve gear.

Allan 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, d
on't leave home without one, in fact leave your cellphone at home and take this instead.

There are a 1000 names for God and one of them is Graham Day..

Reviewed by pOoTer - December 2002

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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Page last modified Tuesday, December 31, 2002 2:05 AM