Dick’s Picks: This week’s pick from our man Dick is this late ’60s psychedelic curio from Marty Wilde…..set fuzz guitars to stun!
Marty, or Reginald Leonard Smith to his mum, along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard was one of the first generation of Brit rockers. Spotted by infamous ’60s pop impresario Larry Parnes at London’s Condor Club in 1957 the newly christened ‘Marty Wilde’ was soon racing up the charts with hits like ‘It’s Been Nice’, unusually, for the era, Wilde was a budding songwriter himself and the singles B-Side ‘Bad Boy’ was an early example of his song-writing prowess.
So What’s the album ‘Diversions’ all about?
Released in 1969 at a time when the Brit-rocker’s star was on the slide, ‘Diversions’ can be seen a bit of desperate effort to be down with the kids. However, Wilde wasn’t the only ‘ageing’ (he was only 30 at the time!) rock star that needed a swinging makeover, think Del Shannon’s ‘The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover’ long player or even the oh-so-meek-and-mild folk duo Peter & Gordon’s psychedelic missive from ’68; ‘Hot Cold & Custard’ – it was a case of tune in or errr sod off, maaan.
Thankfully, Wilde did ‘tune in’ (albeit temporarily, by the mid-’70s he was relaunching again as ‘Zappo’ and trying to get a bit of that lucrative glam action like fellow ’50s compatriot Alvin Stardust but that’s another story) and recorded this long lost Brit-psych gem. It’s choc-full of brilliantly orchestrated Hollies style chamber pop with a killer fuzz guitar run lurking round every corner. Check the, errr, interestingly titled ‘Zobo (1871-1892)’ where a distinct spaghetti western type vibe is fleshed out with some super cool Pete Townshend styled ‘windmill chords’ – throw in some primeval, bestial growls as the song fades (unfortunately obscured on the only clip I could find of the song) and you’re more than halfway to a right, royal freakout…..
Elsewhere on the album Wilde offers a swinging update of the ’60s hit by the Casuals ‘Jesamine’ which he co-wrote. ‘Alice In Blue’ (love these trippy titles) is a beautiful baroque ballad with a wonderful orchestral arrangement (Cy Payne, Johnny Arthey and Peter Knight, all seasoned ‘back-room’ musicians/band leaders/arrangers in their own right worked on the album), giving it a huge sound, in fact the dramatic crescendo to ‘Alice In Blue’ bears more than a passing resemblance to the Beatles ‘A Day In The Life’.
What else? With contemporaneous covers of the mighty Quo’s ‘Ice in the Sun’ and Lulu’s ‘I’m a tiger’ – what you’ve got is you’ve got is a wonderful slice of ’60s popsike from an extremely unlikely source! One last thing, special mention must go to the sleeve, amongst the painted swirls, far-away lands and colourful flowers, there’s Marty, coming on like Elvis after hitting the mescaline, although most probably, just a couple of light and bitters were the order of the day – enjoy!
To see the full info on this LP click here