Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Review: Blossom Toes' 'We Are Ever So Clean' Vinyl Reissue

Blossom Toes began as a trio of apprentices at a scientific (not musical) instrument company, which will seem oddly logical when you listen to their first album. We Are Ever So Clean doesn't sound played; it sounds wired, more the product of mad scientists than a band. Of that original trio, only guitarist Alan Kensley played an instrument. Brian Godding had to figure out how to mess with a guitar a bit and Brian Belshaw learned to pluck a bass well enough that the guys could start gigging (and ultimately backing the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson and Chuck Berry!). 

They also developed into a group capable of making one of the most outlandishly psychedelic British rock album of that most psychedelic of years, 1967. Blossom Toes' debut is sometimes chaotic and crazed, but it's also exceptionally tuneful and well-played. The dirty secret behind that is manager/producer Giorgio Gomelsky (early Rolling Stones; Yardbirds) used sessionmen on certain tracks and tended to bulldoze the band with his own zany ideas that sometimes didn't sit well with the group. 

But anyone who gets too nitpicky over the way music was made in the mid-sixties is missing the ultimate point (and possibly cheating themselves out of enjoying great records by combos such as The Beach Boys and The Monkees). In Blossom Toes' case, the end product is an unimpeachable product of the psychedelic era, and the band certainly make their mark with great vocals, hot playing that is indistinguishable from the session pros' contributions, and a lot of truly original, truly bizarre songwriting. Their musings on reincarnation (at least I think that's what "Look At Me, I'm You" is about), ballooning gone awry, frozen dogs, and liberated budgerigars make Syd Barrett's ravings about gnomes and LSD cats seem positively lucid. Godding, who also wrote tunes for his sister-in-law Julie Driscoll, also displays genuine craftsmanship with more traditional compositions like "When the Alarm Clock Rings",  "Telegram Tuesday", and "Love Is", a song normal and pretty enough that one could imagine The Buckinghams covering it.

Anyone who has dipped their toes into the vividly swirling waters of British psych and wants to really take the plunge needs to get immersed in We Are Ever So Clean. Long hard to come by on vinyl, Esoteric Records recently reissued it with freshly remastered sound that sounds refreshingly natural--no over-pumped bass or volume, which too often passes for "improved sound" among contemporary remasterers. The plastic is perfectly flat with a perfectly centered spindle hole. All the better for taking in Blossom Toes' perfectly mad music.

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