Saturday, February 4, 2012

Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours(1968)

An interesting though barely recorded mid-'60s British band, Deep Feeling fed members into major psychedelic bands, star and cult, of the late '60s, including Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Family, and the Blossom Toes. The group evolved from an outfit called the Hellions, which featured future Traffic members Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. After Mason left Deep Feeling, future Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor joined. This lineup, also including vibraphonist and flute player Poli Palmer (later in Family and the Blossom Toes), guitarist Gordon Jackson, and bassist Dave Meredith, did some unreleased recordings with influential U.K. manager/producer/impresario Giorgio Gomelsky (most famous as the manager/producer of the Yardbirds). One 1966 track, "Pretty Colours," does show up on the Luther Grosvenor CD Floodgates Anthology and is a pretty nifty early psychedelic venture, with flute, vibes, distorted vocals, and the kind of pop-friendly yet Asiatic-Middle Eastern melody that the Yardbirds often explored. 

Unfortunately, nothing by Deep Feeling was released at the time, although they did record at least one other track with Gomelsky, "Poltergeist of Alice" (according to the liner notes of Floodgates Anthology). Gomelsky has recalled that they recorded an album's worth of material, and that some of the ideas -- including African percussion and vibraphone -- were incorporated by Traffic, the band Capaldi joined, signaling the end of Deep Feeling. In addition to the post-Deep Feeling projects mentioned above, there was a solo album by Gordon Jackson on Gomelsky's Marmalade label in the late '60s

Deep Feeling was a band that didn't last very long, but proved to be a way station for a number of notable British musicians, including Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi of Traffic, Luther Grosvenor of Mott the Hoople and Spooky Tooth, and Poli Palmer of Family. Deep Feeling were cutting their debut album in the fall of 1967 when, after five tracks had been completed, Capaldi got an invitation from Mason (who had already left the group, to be replaced by Grosvenor) to join Traffic, and the band soon fell apart. Pretty Colours collects those five songs along with one song from a BBC Radio taping in 1966 (when the group was still known as the Hellions), a live performance from a club date, and four demos Palmer and Gordon Jackson recorded not long after Deep Feeling's breakup. In the liner notes, Capaldi writes that "Deep Feeling was definitely the forerunner of Traffic," and it's not hard to spot the similarities; Palmer's use of flute and vibraphone in the group's arrangements gave their music a texture that was quite unusual for the day, and while the influence of the first wave of psychedelic rock is obvious in these songs, one can also hear faint echoes of what would become progressive rock along with traces of the waning days of British beat. Listening to Pretty Colours, one gets the feeling that this group was just about to hit their stride when Capaldi's departure pulled the plug on their future, and the fragments they left behind are fascinating but suggest their formula hadn't quite worked itself out when the five studio tracks were laid down. Ultimately, Deep Feeling's lineup promises something more satisfying than Pretty Colours delivers, but there are some great moments on this collection, and fans of these musicians will be grateful to finally hear this band's recorded legacy after decades in the vaults.

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