Sunday, February 13, 2011

Angel Pavement - Maybe Tomorrow (1969)

Recorded in 1969 but unreleased at the time, the sole album by baroque harmony pop-psych group Angel Pavement finally emerged in vinyl-only format in 2003. This CD release adds a further eight tracks, including five superb West Coast-leaning demos recorded locally in 1967 before they came down south to London to release two singles, all four sides of which are included herein. A rare treat for lovers of Honeybus/Zombies-style late '60s British pop.

Anyone unfamiliar with Angel Pavement shouldn't feel too bad. After all, the band was hardly a household name in its heyday, and its peak of exposure consisted of a pair of failed singles at the very tail-end of the 1960s in England. But they were a seriously wonderful sunshine pop outfit from late 1960s, hailing from York, with a sound that was equal parts psychedelia and pop/rock in the best Hollies/Zombies/Beatles manner. The band, which took its name from a 1930 novel by J.B. Priestley (himself a Yorkshireman, natch), was assembled by guitarist/songwriter Alfie Shepherd out of the remnants of a soul-based outfit, Wesley Hardin's Shotgun Package, with Paul Smith (lead vocals), Dave Smith (guitar), Graham Harris (bass), and Alan Reeve (drums) (later replaced by Mike "Candy" Candler). They quickly developed an effective pop-oriented psychedelic sound, similar to what the Hollies were doing on Evolution and Butterfly, and the Zombies generated on Odessey & Oracle, with lush harmonies, glittering instrumental textures, horns and brass in the right places on the pop numbers. They managed to build a large following in their native York and also cut some early sides that heavily reflected all of those influences. 

The group's attempt to crack the London club scene coincided with their starting work on a debut album at Morgan Studios, but those efforts were interrupted by an offer to play a series of gigs for a few days in Mexico City in early 1969. Instead, they stayed for five months, and returned to London to pick up work on the album, a process interrupted by Dave Smith's departure (and his replacement by John Cartwright, who played guitar and trumpet). A pair of singles, "Baby You've Gotta Stay" and "Tell Me What I've Got to Do," issued through Fontana Records, failed to elicit any serious chart action in late 1969 and early 1970; a third single and their announcement of a forthcoming LP all ended up missing in action because of disputes between Shepherd and the studio's publishing arm. Their producer apparently put the final nail in the coffin, and they broke up at the end of 1970. Candler went on to join Decameron and the John Coppin and his band, and Shepherd wrote songs and attempted to do a musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, while the others exited the business altogether. In 2005, Wooden Hill Records issued Maybe Tomorrow, the first-ever release of nearly two-dozen songs from those long-ago Morgan sessions by Angel Pavement -- they lived up to all of the stories about the group's sound and potential. The 1969 Wind in the Willows project was finally released on CD in 2009, digitally remastered with extra demo songs, on the Wooden Hill label.

1. The Man In The Shop On The Corner
2. Maybe Tomorrow
3. Time Is Upon Us
4. Green Mello Hill
5. Little Old Man
6. When Will I See June Again
7. Genevieve
8. Water Woman
9. Napoleon
10. Socialising
11. Jennifer
12. Carrie
13. I'm A Dreamer
14. Baby You've Gotta Stay
15. I'm Moving On
16. Tell Me What I've Got To Do
17. Phantasmagoria
18. Rooftop Memories
19. Tootsy Wootsy Feelgood
20. Flying On The Ground (Is Wrong)
21. Five Sisters
22. Desperate Dan
23. I'm Moving On (early mix)
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