The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. On this occasion, many rare finds from the London Underground music scene found their way into the public ear again. Now, with a little delay, perhaps the most important rediscovery from the time of Swingin’ London is available: Iapetus presents this compilation for the first time, “Hallucinogenic Treasures from the Convolution of an Imaginative Brain” is a comprehensive review of the work of the legendary British band Banging Colours.
“Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys or “Freak Out” by the Mothers of Invention had already been announced the year before, but 1967 was the Year of Great Change in rock and pop. From “Sgt. Pepper” to “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” from “Are You Experienced” to “Surrealistic Pillow,” unprecedented sounds broke into pop music and redefined what popular music is and can be. In place of hit production came the work on the album. The setlist of performances no longer consisted of a string of singles; instead, the musicians experimented live with their material and sounded out the possibilities of rock music in long improvisations. The studio itself became an instrument for expanding musical boundaries, and drug-induced changes in consciousness manifested themselves in psychedelic sound.
During the short period of their existence in London from 1967 to 1969, Banging Colours featuring keyboarder and singer Manny Wolfe was considered one of the most important and influential bands of their time. Performances at the U.F.O. Club and in Middle Earth established their reputation as a cult band by British psychedelia fans. Joint performances with the main acts of the scene consolidated this status as well as their innovative light show, which gave the band its name.
Matthias Derer has meticulously searched and rummaged through the archives of record companies, radio stations and film studios, bringing to light some amazing things. More treasures than ever hoped for could be recovered, in almost all cases in the form of original tapes of the individual tracks and in far better quality than feared. Markus Reuter has remixed them with great devotion and has given these pearls of the psychedelic era, which were considered lost, new radiance. The result is a fascinating testimony of probably the most creative period of rock music.
Album 1 of the compilation brings together studio recordings from almost two and a half years, from the first and only single that not only sings about London’s underground scene but also became its secret anthem, to songs from various album projects from 1967 to 1969. The material was written entirely by the band’s head Manny Wolfe and bears his compositional signature.
Album 2 includes jams and studio live sessions and shows the band from a slightly different side: it impressively documents their impartiality and freedom to improvise freely, leaving the three-minute format suitable for radio light years behind.
Both showcase the extraordinary lineup of Banging Colours: Bas Ricken, whose powerful and soulful playing was acknowledged by the major drummers of his time, is the pulse in which the colours are banging. Pekka Jokinen on bass is an exceptional phenomenon: Seldom in this era has a bassist shaped the overall sound of a band as much as he did. On these recordings he not only proves that he lives up to his idol Paul McCartney and is on the cutting edge of his time, but he also shows himself to be a harbinger of a new type of bass player, as he was later embodied by Chris Squire or John Wetton in the 70’s. You don’t have to be a music expert to imagine what a brilliant career Young Patel could have had on the guitar if fate hadn’t objected. He effortlessly freed himself from his roots, the R‘n’B, without ever having to deny his musical origins. Especially his interaction with Keith Friedell is one of the most exciting elements of Banging Colours. While Young lets the blues flow in, Friedell makes the wide field of swing and gypsy jazz fertile for psychedelic proliferation. His virtuosic playing leaves its mark on the band and contributes significantly to the incomparable sound of Banging Colours. The creative centre around which this ensemble of exceptional musicians is grouped is Manny Wolfe, who not only wrote all the songs but also lends them the psychedelic sound carpets on organ, piano and mellotron as well as his unusual voice. At the moment he is writing an autobiographical story of Banging Colours, and it will be interesting to see if more treasures of the band will be salvaged in the course of this.
But not only the acoustic side of this rediscovery is interesting. In the course of extensive research, Matthias Derer has also succeeded in making the work of one of the most important graphic artists of his time partially accessible again. Wes H. Bernatt was not only a friend of the band and designer of their record covers, posters and the band logo, but also one of the most creative draftsmen and illustrators in London in the late 60’s. His contribution to psychedelic art and graphic design was unjustly forgotten. Bernhard Wöstheinrich’s revision of the album covers for this compilation brings Bernatt’s merits back into focus.
This compilation is a major act and an important contribution to the history of music, which gives an idea of the importance of Banging Colours. A must for all fans of the 60’s and lovers of psychedelic music.
Release Date: December 4, 2020
To purchase: www.bangingcolours.bandcamp.com