The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dr. Strangely Strange

1-24-08 Dr. Strangely Strange

As a youth, I decided pretty early on that I liked to investigate new music by what record label it was on. One of the first labels I investigated was Atco Records – because they put pictures of their album covers on their innersleeves. Largely because of artists like Jethro Tull, White Noise, Traffic and Spooky Tooth…I became interested in Island Records in England. Their address appeared on the back cover of nearly all of their LP’s, so I wrote to them, requesting a catalogue, about 1970 or so.

I knew what a lot of the stuff was in the Island Records catalogue – but there were, of course, titles I had never seen, didn’t really know who / what it was etc. One of those mystery records was “Kip Of The Serenes” by Dr. Strangely Strange, Island ILPS 9106, 1969. It took a few years, but I got a beautiful copy of this LP, and I still have it – all these years later. Good thing too; the world’s only CD of it (that I am aware of) is mastered at an incorrect speed. It’s a long-ish album anyway, but when I put the disc in my player, it registered to be even longer than I remembered it being! Long story short: it’s mastered wrong, slow. Maybe Hux Records will fix it? I’d love to see “Kip…” available again!

Dr. Strangely Strange are an Irish folkie band (they’re all still alive, I think!). “Kip Of The Serenes” was produced by Joe Boyd and it’s as spiffy as your favorite Incredible String Band album (yes, I like it as well as “Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”, even!).

For some reason, I never got into their 2nd album, “No Heavy Petting” (on Vertigo Records). Didn’t even hear it, really – until ’07, when I got a kami (paper) sleeve CD of it in Japan. They get some help from their Irish friend Gary Moore on it. I am still warming to it, but “Kip…” will always be my favorite: very sweet 1969 psychedelic folk music from the British isles.

I recently obtained “Halcyon Days” (Hux Records), a 2007 CD of previously unreleased songs / recordings from the early 70’s – and it’s very good. There are 2 or 3 songs recorded in 2006 by the same guys – in “Kip Of The Serenes” mode, as the liner notes tell us. I’d love to see them play live – but I suspect they have never played live anywhere in the U.S.! And I’d want to see all of “Kip Of The Serenes” played live – complete with the sing-along of “Donnybrook Fair”.

They really are a charming band – and my close friends will tell you that I am not (generally speaking) into Irish artists very much! Oh, OK – one of them (Ivan Pawle) was British. The two Irish members of the group are named Tim – Booth and Goulding.

So, thank you for the music, gentlemen – I owe you a drink, if you are still drinking. My life was enriched by having the music of Dr. Strangely Strange come my way years before many other aspects of modern life did. I paid DSS the compliment of paying full price in a retail shop for their new CD of “Halcyon Days”.


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Well, I don't care for "Irish music" per se: The Chieftains, I suppose, would be the stereotypical Irish band. All I can say is they helped take a Scotsman [Midge Ure] down a dark path! Various and sundry purveyors of "folk music" replete with pennywhistles and bodhrans, et. al. just glaze my eyes over. Gaelic fayre does nothing for me - and I live in a city sick with "Irish" businesses: pubs, clothing, gift stores, etc.

And let's not forget that Irish culture is a strong foundation upon which American Appalachian culture was forged - and I pretty much hate it. I have all the right as I live in Asheville and you probably don't!

But I do like some Irish musicians: Elvis Costello, John Lydon, The Boomtown Rats, Gavin Friday/Virgin Prunes. But Scotland, now there's a Gaelic culture that delivers mightily for me! Hail to Simple Minds, Revillos, Altered Images, Strawberry Switchblade, Cocteau Twins, Associates, Billy MacKenzie, Paul Haig, Josef K, Edwyn Collins, The Skids, Armoury Show, Fairground Attraction, The Proclaimers, Alex Harvey, Jesus & Mary Chain, and even Midge Ure. Remember - if it's not Scottish, it's cr@p!

8:38 AM  

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