The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tea & Symphony


4-21-08 Tea & Symphony

An old favorite…

CD ASYLUM FOR THE MUSICALLY INSANE, AN TOSHIBA JPN TOCP-7753

LP ASYLUM FOR THE MUSICALLY INSANE, AN HARVEST UK SHVL 761

LPx2 ASYLUM FOR THE MUSICALLY INSANE, AN promo HARVEST UK SHVL 761

7" BOREDOM / ARMCHAIR THEATRE HARVEST UK HAR 5005

LP JO SAGO HARVEST UK SHVL 785

Once I started on my path to wanting to hear every record on the Harvest label (after getting Kevin Ayers “The Joy Of A Toy” and Syd Barrett “The Madcap Laughs”), it became apparent that I really needed SHVL 761, “An Asylum For The Musically Insane” by Birmingham band Tea & Symphony – I could see it on the inner-sleeve!!!

About 1972, I was listening to lots of late night FM radio – this is how I met Greg Stewart, the late night KPFK DJ who eventually played a cut by Tea & Symphony (“Armchair Theatre”) – I freaked – it was even better than I’d imagined it would be! Yet when I went in search of this elusive LP at Moby Disc in Van Nuys, CA – I didn’t find “Asylum…”, but their (even harder to find) 2nd album, “Jo Sago” – I paid a whopping $6 for it, out of the ‘rarities’ bin – behind the counter records with jacked up prices, a common practice for 70’s record stores in L.A.

Mr. Stewart made me a reel-to-reel of “Asylum” and I let him borrow my “Jo Sago”, so he could make his own reel-to-reel of that fine album. We became friends, despite our vast age difference (I was a teenager, and he was already – in his 30’s!) – we fell out of touch for a number of years, but I eventually found him again – after spying a “Special Order” slip in the back room of Poo Bah Record Shop in Pasadena, CA. “Wanted: Bob Dylan Bootleg Series LP boxed set, Stewart” and a phone number. I called the number, and he was one in the same, as ever.

Well, back to Tea & Symphony. In a pre-internet world, no way to find out anything easily, when it comes to material of this nature. I knew about the two albums on Harvest – but I was so naïve that I wondered if they were a band from somewhere in the British commonwealth – such as New Zealand or Australia? Those Birmingham accents sounded so foreign to me! When I started going to Europe in the fall of ’79, I lucked out in finding both a Tea & Symphony 45 (“Boredom”, the Procol Harum song – which the people who have issued their first album on CD two separate times have both missed) and a test pressing of “Asylum…” – an EMI UK double LP actual white label test pressing!

Of note is the cover art for both T&S albums – “Asylum…” is one of the more beautiful ’69 UK LP covers, and the ‘black man in a white world’ LP cover of “Jo Sago” is astonishing. I told all my teenaged friends about this obscure British band – but when you can’t find any of their records for sale – few were interested. Where’s the legit CD of “Jo Sago”? I bet somebody could sell a few dozen of them! Afrika paprika!

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2 Comments:

Blogger deepinder said...

Yes, I saw Jo Sago at Birmingham rag market in 1982 or 1983, and I left it behind. I took it out and looked at it, and put it back. Even in Birmingham, home of the T&S it is the only copy I have seen. So god knows how someone in the colonies is going to cope; mind you you had a 10 year start on me.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I have seen exactly 3 copies of "Asylum" for sale and 2 copies of "Jo Sago" for sale in 35+ years. I bought all of them. I do not think either LP was ever imported into the US for sale, as nobody here seemed to ever know about it - when the 1st album was clearly visible on the Harvest inner-sleeve.

6:59 AM  

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