Dick’s Picks: With this week’s pick Dick has really upped the ante, offering for your delectation this so-rare-it-hurts 1970 vintage Brit-pop-psych 7″ vinyl single on the cult ‘Spark’ imprint from the super mysterious Sir Ching I, for full condition/price info on the website please click here – be warned, it’s not cheap….for the back story, read on…
Sir Ching I / ‘Hello Everyone / Hiawatha Mini Ha Ha Love’
Before we go any further it should be noted that on this occasion phrases like ‘holy grail’, ‘rare-as-the-proverbial-hen’s-teeth’, ‘monster-rarity’ and so on are applicable here, on-line searches for info reveal that up until last Friday (when we gratefully took ownership of it here at eil Towers) only one, yes just one, stock copy was known to exist – yikes!!
So What Is It?
It’s a one-off single released under the pun-tastic nom de guerre Sir Ching I (Searching Eye, geddit?), details are thin on the ground so here’s what we know….
A recent compilation on Grapefruit (part of the Cherry Red roster of labels) celebrated this quirky UK imprint, this is what they had to say…
“Between 1968 and 1970, some of the finest, most obscure British psychedelic pop singles of the era escaped on the Spark label, the newly-inaugurated recording arm of long-established publishers Southern Music. Recorded in the basement studio of the companies Denmark Street premises, these tracks often featured the same cabal of musicians and songwriters, leading to a homogeneous in-house style that perfectly encapsulates the late 1960’s British pop-psych studio sound”.
“The best of Sparks impressive roster is now collected on CD for the first time on Hello Everyone: Popsike Sparks from Denmark Street 1968-70, which assembles highly-prized, highly-priced 45s from pre-Rare Bird band Fruit Machine, Gene Latter, post-Sorrows outfit the Eggy, the New Generation (subsequently to become the Sutherland Brothers), the Dennis Wheatley-inspired Icarus and both sides of the magnificent and astonishingly rare single by Sir Ching I (only one stock copy known to exist). Also included are exquisite Brit popsike singles from Timothy Blue, Just William, both sides of the superb John Carter/Russ Alquist collaboration The Laughing Man/Midsummer Dreaming and two sensational offerings from Eartha Kitt during her brief and unlikely immersion in late Sixties hippy chick chic”
So Who Were Sir Ching I?
The label credits the writers as being Lewis/Alquist/Kingston, a little spot of CSI eil.com reveals that the Lewis in question is none other than Ken Lewis who, by 1970, had already carved out quite a career, starting off as a member of Carter-Lewis & The Southerners before morphing into the Ivy League who would score a couple of minor ‘Beat-Group’ era hits whilst also performing backing vocals on the Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’! By 1967 Jon Carter and Ken Lewis had their (third?) eye trained on the emergent summer of love vibe and wanted in on the action, and, before you could say ‘where’s me kaftan’, the Flowerpot Men were born!
Russ Alquist was a Denmark Street/Tin Pan Alley mainstay who had penned songs for the Fourmost and was a regular co-writer with Jon Carter, lastly, Barry Kingston was the labels in-house producer and, by all accounts, session player extraordinaire….
So What’s It Like?
In certain cases the rarer-than-rare-rarity that commands a huge price does not always equate to good music, we are very pleased to say that’s not the case with this superb slice of Brit-Bubblegum-Pop-Psych, both the A & B side are first class British Psych tunes, with sumptuous swirling Mellotron & dreamy kaleidoscopic arrangements & vocals, showcasing that these were no mere studio dilettantes, and this was in fact the work of three, more than capable, musicians/writers who really knew how to craft a record. I can find no details as to why this particular release is so scarce….Was it withdrawn? Did they fall out? Label problems? Or was it simply that the times were-a-changin’, that psych’s ‘golden age’ had passed? If that’s the case, consider this classic slice of 7″ vinyl a final parting shot….
If you know anything about this record please let us know as we’d love to know more….
For full details on this monster rarity please click here