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Tapestry of Delights:
Based in West London, this interesting psychedelic group started life in 1964 as The Side Kicks and later changed their name to The Key. Apparently, their drummer made an acetate of recordings from this era. By 1967, they had changed their name again to Kaleidoscope and signed to Fontana.
Their first 45, Flight From Ashiya, was an amalgam of pop and psychedelia, it told the story of the pilot of a crashing aeroplane. It picked up quite a lot of airplay but failed to chart. Some collectors seek out the Dutch release, which came with a different picture sleeve. After a further, equally good 45 (A Dream For Julie), sadly also flopped, the group were afforded the opportunity to record an album. The result, Tangerine Dream was a varied collection of psychedelic pop with whimsical lyrics often delivered in that breathless style that characterised the UK genre. It featured both sides of their debut 45 and the flip of their second (Please Excuse My Face). The opening track was fittingly called Kaleidoscope. Other highlights were Dive Into Yesterday, a typical slice of whimsical pop psychedelia; (Further Reflections) In The Room Of Percussion, which had some great vocals and out of tune strings; A Lesson Perhaps, with its spoken lyrics; and The Sky Children, a fairytale dream, which was very much a preview of some of the material on their second album. Tangerine Dream came in a superb psychedelic sleeve.
The band appeared on several BBC radio shows for overseas broadcast which brought them into contact with deejay David Symonds who became their manager. BBC transcription discs of this material exist but are rarely offered for sale and are obviously expensive. There's also been a bootleg EP containing versions of Flight From Ashiya, A Dream For Julie, The Murder of Lewis Tollani and Dive Into Yesterday from these sessions, and the sessions also make up the bonus material included with the Footprint CD reissues.
Their next 45, Jenny Artichoke, was distinctly less psychedelic than the previous two. Its singalong style makes it less interesting too, but the fact it was not featured on either of their albums has made it collectable.
Their second album Faintly Blowing had a slightly more 'progressive' feel and contained psychedelic gems like Music with its liberal use of phasing and electronic sound effects, and Snapdragon, along with acoustic numbers like Poems and I'll Kiss You Once. Many of the songs had a story line or moral, none more so than A Story From Tom Blitz, the fictional story of an unfortunate traveller who tries to chat up a pretty female on a train journey in the USA. The girl slips him a potent liquid which gets him drunk and he ends up in the County Jail with a sentence of six months hard labour. Whilst in jail he pals up with an old cowboy, for whom he is caught trying to steal a horse and duly receives an extended sentence!
Their last two 45s, Do It Again For Jeffrey and Balloon, were very much in the style of Jenny Artichoke and were less interesting. The 'B' sides were from the Faintly Blowing album but the fact the 'A' sides were unavailable elsewhere has made them minor collectables.
With the decade at a close and a commercial breakthrough still eluding them the group agreed a change of name to Fairfield Parlour and with it came a different musical direction and label (Vertigo), although they also recorded a one-off 45 for the Isle of Wight festival (under the name I Luv Wight).
Sadly, on 1st May 1999, Steve Clarke was killed by a car as he walked across Chelsea Bridge in London.
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