Friday, February 13, 2015

Orange Bicycle - Orange Bicycle (1970)










John Bachini - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Kevin Curry - Drums, Percussion
Bernie Lee - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Steel], Vocals
R.J. Scales - Lead Vocals
Wilson Malone - Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Mellotron, Vocals, Arranged By



The British psych-pop outfit known as Orange Bicycle evolved from a Beat group, Robb Storme & the Whispers, also known as the Robb Storme Group. They had recorded a handful of harmony pop singles for Pye, Piccadilly, Decca, and Columbia Records during the early '60s, but with little success. In 1966, the Robb Storme Group covered the Beach Boys' "Here Today." It was arranged by the band's own multi-talented keyboardist/producer Wilson Malone and produced by Morgan Music's co-owner Monty Babson at Morgan Studios in the Willesdon area of London. With psychedelic music at its zenith, the group decided to change its name change and, in 1967, re-emerged as Orange Bicycle. Over the next few years, they released a half-dozen singles; their first single -- "Hyacinth Threads" -- remains the band's best-known track, appearing on numerous compilations. In late August/early September 1968, Orange Bicycle -- wearing matching black and orange suits -- performed at the Isle of Wight music festival, reportedly covering songs by Love and the Rolling Stones. In 1970, already somewhat past its prime, Orange Bicycle recorded its only album, The Orange Bicycle. It was comprised largely of covers, including Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot," Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You," and Denny Laine's "Say You Don't Mind." A few tracks were produced by John Peel. Psychedelic pop music, however, was on the wane, or transmogrifying into heavier prog or hard rock, so the group decided to call it a day, breaking up in 1971. Wilson Malone's self-titled solo album (as Wil Malone) for Fontana was released that same year. Meanwhile, drummer Kevin Currie joined Supertramp, then Burlesque, before becoming a session drummer. Malone went on to form the heavy psych-prog trio Bobak Jons Malone with celebrated engineer/producer Andy Jons and guitarist producer Mike Bobak. They recorded one album, Motherlight. Malone also collaborated with bassist John Bachini on singer/songwriter Robert MacLeod's 1976 solo album Between the Poppy and the Snow. That same year, they covered the Beatles' "You Never Give Me Your Money" for All This and World War II. Malone then went on to become a top producer/arranger on his own, working with many successful groups and solo artists. His string arrangement for the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" (which appropriated the symphonic arrangement from the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time") caused a ruckus that resulted in Andrew Loog Oldham suing the Verve for songwriting royalties. In 1988, the Morgan Bluetown label issued an Orange Bicycle compilation, Let's Take a Trip On..., which contained all of the band's Columbia singles but no Parlophone-era recordings. Edsel later reissued all of Orange Bicycle's recordings -- 33 tracks total -- on a double CD in 2001.

1. Lady Samantha (03:34)
2. Country Comforts (03:15)
3. The Sweet Thing Is (02:17)
4. Make It Rain (04:07)
5. Say You Don't Mind (02:57)
6. Hallelujah Moon (03:28)
7. Jelly On The Bread (03:52)
8. Take Me To The Pilot (03:04)
9. Come To Tomorrow Morning (04:12)
10. Back (03:37)
11. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You (04:32)
12. Hyacinth Threads (Bonus Track) (02:55)
13. Amy Peate (Bonus Track) (02:09)
14. Laura's Garden (Bonus Track) (03:16)
15. Lavender Girl (Bonus Track) (02:21)
16. Jenskadajaka (Bonus Track) (03:33)
17. Sing This Song All Together (Bonus Track) (02:41)
18. Trip On An Orange Bicycle (Bonus Track) (03:36)

A somewhat late-in-the-day attempt at psychedelic pop, this album does have a few advantages, mostly in the way it's executed -- for starters, it isn't as wimpy as a lot of U.K. psychedelic pop was during this period; Orange Bicycle plays hard and generates a fairly hard sound, despite their pop orientation, the wattage turned up fairly high and the vocals pretty intense. The album is top-heavy with outside songwriting, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and Denny Laine all playing prominent roles as composers, with Laine giving the group perhaps their best moment with his "Say You Don't Mind", where they even sound a little bit like the original (Roy Wood-era) Electric Light Orchestra. Still, they're neither fish nor fowl, too heavy to pass for pop but not intense enough to be taken too seriously -- the material is a little too off-kilter to have worked at the time, or to be of anything much more than historical interest today.





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