Dick’s Picks: Vintage 1970 Cult Mod/Psych 7″ vinyl single by future TV star Paul Nicholas…..
Paul Nicholas – really?
Yes really…….this highly sought after (and really rather good) cult Mod/Psych 7″ vinyl was released by none other than Paul Nicholas. Those of a certain age will remember him starring in the West End productions of musicals ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, others will recall his turn as perma-permed ‘loveable rogue’ Vince Pinner from the ’80s ‘will they/won’t they’ comedy drama ‘Just Good Friends’…..or perhaps much more recently as Gavin Sullivan in Eastenders – yes that Paul Nicholas!
Turns out Nicholas has quite the musical back story, as far back as 1960 he was spotted by Screaming Lord Sutch (a bit of a player in the ’60s music scene), before being signed by Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood. Then followed a string of mid-’60s releases on Stigwood’s short-lived ‘Reaction’ imprint, early ’45s were written for him by none other than Pete Townshend – ‘Join My Gang’ released in 1966 and never actually recorded by the Who plus ‘Over The Wall We Go’ written by David Bowie no less!!
By 1970, Nicholas had turned his attention to the West End and had high profile roles in Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair (well, he did have nice hair), against this musical backdrop he recorded this 1970 single for Polydor entitled ‘Freedom Train’ – it’s a big rousing piano ballad that could easily be an outtake from one of these musicals, however, it’s the B-Side where the real action is; a cult favourite on the mod and psych scenes, recent years have seen it saddled with the dreadbeat ‘freakbeat’ tag, whatever, you call it, there’s no denying its supremely funky psych with Nicholas’s sonorous vocals lending it an other-wordly edge – the percussion breakdown mid-way through is pretty darn hot too!! Prepare to cast your prejudices aside, strap yourself in and off we go!!!
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