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We Are Ever So Clean: Expanded Edition
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2009
We Are Ever So Clean is the stunning debut album by the band Blossom Toes. The album is one of the finest example of psychedelic pop that Britain produced. It has such a quintessentially British charm to it, much like The Village Green Preservation Society, with songs about alarm clocks, tea, hot air balloons and budgerigars. There is also a strong comedy element to the album, it has quite a whimsical sense of humour, especially the short spoken introductions to each track. It is that wonderful sense of humour that makes this album such a pleasure to listen to, it is certainly one of the happiest albums in my collection!

The band started out in 65/66 as The Ingoes, playing R&B music, until they were snapped up by Giorgio Gomelsky, renamed as the more psychedelic Blossom Toes, and signed up to his new Marmalade label. Jim Cregan and Brian Godding were the two main songwriters in the band, but it was Gomelsky who was responsible for sending them in a more psychedelic direction, bringing in session musicians to add overdubs to the basic tracks recorded by the band. The band apparently weren't too keen on this, but I think the results speak for themselves!

The album opens with Look At Me I'm You, which has a very interesting opening, I think it involves piano notes being played backwards and xylophones. There's something very disjointed sounding about the song, but it works so well, as does the backwards guitar breaks and flutes in the background. It is definately "psychedelic", and not a conventional pop song! I know I said that this was a very happy album, but the lyrics in this song are actually fairly bleak, with lyrics like "The air is black with coal dust from smokey chimney pots", and "poor old johnny, he was poorly" and so on. It keeps you on your toes (no pun intended) with little interludes including a nice acoustic section and towards the end the song drops out and a brass band start playing (very British!). A very interesting opener!

The glorious I'll Be Late For Tea comes next. It is a lot more upbeat that the opening track, and is essentially a song about someone who is running late for a tea engagement. The vocals on this track are sublime, especially the harmonies which are perfect. The rythm section is actually pretty heavy, in contrast to some of the overdubs that Gomelsky has added which features gentle flute and trumpet. Overall this juxtaposition works really well, and the tracks is one of my favourites!

The bizarre The Remarkable Saga Of The Frozen Dog comes next, it is a very very odd song, which may have been the result of taking too much LSD. The guitars certainly sound like they are on acid, as do the bizarre background vocals (which consist of odd noises rather than singing)! The track is possibly my least favourite on the album, I think it is a bit too odd for my tastes!

The next track Telegram Tuesday is a nice upbeat pop song, again featuring a strong rythm section and some lush harmonies, along the same lines as I'll Be Late For Tea, although it is not quite as good. It is follwed by Love Is which is quite a slow and sombre love song, featuring great orchestration containing vibes, chello, harp and flutes. I don't think slow ballads were the groups forte, but it is not a bad song.

The whimsy returns in full force with the excellent What's It For?. The production on this track is fantastic, the chello works so well as do the latin sounding trumpets. The lyrics are certainly whimsical "What's it for, the mere existence of a door, is something to be grateful for". It's a good, upbeat track, well worth a listen!

The whimsy goes up a level on the next track, The People of The Royal Parks. This song is yet again very British, the lyrics are all about park keepers and parliament and the Sunday papers. I don't know if words can do this song justice, it is just fantastic. I actually have goosebumps listening to it right now! Its an upbeat singalong song with a great rythm, lovely harpsichord, oboes, strings and a blaring brass section, and towards the end it erupts into a Mellow Yellowesque party! It's definately one of the best tracks on the album, and indeed one of the best psych pop tracks of all times surely!

What On Earth is another great track, and the lyrics contain the albums title; "We are ever so clean, cleaner than the top of a washing machine". There is once again wonderful orchestration and great harmonies. It is another wonderful track, the bass sounds very interesting, almost like a wobble board in fact

.My favourite song of the album is next, easily equalling the whimsy of The People of The Royal Parks, it is the smile inducing Mrs. Murphy's Budgerigar. This song feels like a warm blanket around me when I listen to it, I don't know where to start talking about it. The backing track is fantastic, starting with guitar, bass, drums and harpsichord in a great bouncy rythm, but eventually building up to include strings, oboes, and brass (there is a great trumpet solo towards the end). The vocals are great, featuring some of their best harmonies. The lyrics are great too, the song has a very toytown feel to it, it covers the topics of lost budgerigars, trainsets and buying bicycles. It is an utterly fantastic song, worth the price of the album!

I Will Bring You This And That is another upbeat bouncy sort of song, it seems to have escaped the overdubbing however, as it consists of simply guitar, drums and bass. It works very well however, and the harmonies once again sound wonderful. The lyrics are very odd indeed; "I will bring you plastic flowers, you can play with them for hours".Mister Watchmaker is the next track, another slow, sombre track. It's quite lovely however, featuring plenty of orchestration in the background. I really like the melody, particularly in the bridge section. It is interesting to compare the song to Mr. Small the Watch Repairer Man by Kaleidoscope. Perhaps they are singing of the same person? Who knows.

The next track is When the Alarm Clock Rings is a pretty good song, the bass playing in it is great, and the little bits of orchestration which have been added work really well. Overall there is a feeling of urgency to the song, which is fitting I suppose as it is a song about time.

The Intrepid Balloonists Handbook, Volume 1 is another odd track, definately displaying their sense of humour! The track features a lot of accordian ond organ, and is sang with an exaggerated British accent, and is about hot air balloons. It's all very Monty Python! It ends with "Really, you're going ever so high Felicity, we'll never be able to reach you now!".

You is a great track, very upbeat, great vocals, and lovely production. For some reason it never stood out much for me on the album, but as I listen to it, it's definately a good song! It just lacks the character and charm of some of the previous tracks.The original album closes with Track For Speedy Freaks (Or Instand LP Digest), it isn't a proper song as such, just an amalgamation of the previous songs, all played over each other at once producing this cacophony of sound. Experimental for its time, and perhaps it sounds good when you are high.

The Sundazed reissue adds several bonus tracks to the album. The best of these are the LP out take Everybody's Talkin which is a really good upbeat pop song with really good vocals, probably dropped from the album in favour of one of the more wacky tracks! Their non LP single is also included, a cover of Bob Dylans I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, which is very good, and prominently features some odd sounding metallic instrument that I can't quite work out! It's a very interesting cover all the same! We Are Ever So Clean is a very fun album, I can't recommend it enough to 60s pop fans. The songwriting is excellent, and the vocals are very distinctive throughout. It for me epitomises the comic, funloving side of British psychedelic pop, as much as Piper At The Gates Of Dawn represents the cosmic side, Tangerine Dream represents the fairytale side and World of Oz represents the childlike side. It is a must have album, it will surely put a smile on your face!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2006
I first heard of this album about a year ago (mid 2005) and eventually got a copy of it a few months later. I'm amazed this band and this album particularly is'nt better known.

This is soft-psyche at it's best. I have rarely heard such interesting chord sequences and vocal harmonies in what is essentially pop music, with the possible exception of the wonderful Brian Wilson.

The guitar work is superb. Not the wild freak-out guitar of Hendrix or early Clapton in fact there are no solos on the album at all, but there is a lot of well thought out guitar interplay which is reminiscent of early Steve Howe when he was in Tomorrow. This also reminds me at times of The Pretty Things (S F Sorrow), The Idle Race, The Move, The Left Banke and occasionally early Floyd (Piper....).

There are a few VERY silly songs on this, The Remarkable Saga Of The Frozen Dog and Mrs Murphy's Budgerigar to name but two. The only song that gets a little bit too silly for me is The Intrepid Balloonist's Handbook, Volume One. But hey this was the late sixties what do you expect.

For me this platter is worth the price for the absolutely beautiful Mister Watchmaker (marvelous string arrangement) and Telegram Tuesday, a song with possibly the shortest verse ever, one line and you're straight into the chorus.

It's a shame that their second album Only For A Moment wasn't anywhere near as inspired with them sounding like a slightly heavy version of Wishbone Ash, didn't work for me.

WE ARE EVER SO CLEAN.... buy it, I did and never looked back.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2009
Well after all these years of seeking quality psychedelia from the sixties it's great to still be able to discover new gems. Being intrigued after seeing their name in ads for the Middle Earth club and such I finally decided to get this, not quite sure what to expect and being quite fussy. I like that certain 'OOMPH' which many bands, much more well known than the Blossom Toes, so often lack. This is fresh, mature and very sophisticated in the harmonies and sound. Although the orchestration could have rendered it weak and twee, the intensity of the band is there and the orchestration really works (unlike the unfortunate Emotions album by the Pretty Things from the same time). The opener is right up there with the great British psychedelic marvels of the time ('Talkin' about the good times' by the Pretties, 'Flower King of Flies' by the Nice etc...). There are almost no bad songs, my least favorite being 'the Intrepid balloonist's Handbook' and all songs flow beautifully, underpinned by powerful bass and drums. The opening of 'Love is' is almost Caravan-like. Writing about each song would be tedious, but every one would be worth writing about.
The extra tracks are interesting. The so-called 'live' tracks seem to be radio or television recordings rather than concerts but interesting nonetheless in hearing 'simpler' versions. The three demos at the end give a tantalising glimpse of what another album in that vein could have sounded like.
All in all a brilliant discovery - Can't wait to hear the grittier sounds of the forthcoming live performances...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2008
This CD is brilliant. It is so endearing with its vision of intelligent, quirky British psychedelic pop . " I'll be Late for Tea", is an example, of this, as is " Telegram Tuesday". " The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog" has always been my best, it is so far off the wall in its period imagery. The quality of the musicians is indisputable and it has a friendly, believable feel to it , i.e. the gentler side of 1967, as opposed to the forced Beatles effort of that year .David Whittaker's Orchestration is to be congratulated, it makes the Album. Their follow up " If Only For A Moment" was Rock orientated effort, but that's the Sixties for you, a swirling mist of change. So enjoy this CD - a time capsule of Excellence.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2009
Twee, humourous, vibrant, psychedelic, fun, melodic, whimsical - Yep, you name it this album is all of these and it's all the better for it. For me this album sums up all that was good about British music from the period. The tongue seems to be planted firmly in cheek and it doesn't take itself to seriously, yet the result is quite an artistic success.

The album definitely creates a world of its own as you can probaby tell by reading the song titles. Along with bands such as The Idle Race, (Syd Barrett era) Pink Floyd, World Of Oz Kaleidoscope and The Hollies etc it neatly sums up that very British of genres called Toytown Psychedelia.

The moods of the album are upbeat and bouncy one minute yet sad like a naughty schoolboy the next! Full of wonderful orchestrations there is not a dull moment on the record. My personal favourites are 'I'll Be Late For Tea' which sounds like a hit single, 'Love Is' featuring a lovely Cello arrangement and 'The Intrepid Balloonist's Handbook Volume 1' which is about as wacky as the title implies!

This CD issue features a lot of bonus tracks of which easily the best is the album outtake 'Everybodys Talking' which is a bit harder edged than the rest the album proper but just as good.

Certainly recomended to fans of Sgt Pepper this curious album should not be missed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2007
I was provoked into writing a review for this CD ( my first ever, by the way) after reading the first review posted. I don't have this CD ( yet) but have had it on vinyl for years, one of my favourites from the period. I saw the band live a few times (1968-69?)and always enjoyed the twin guitar parts, they played mostly tracks from the heavier 2nd LP " If Only For A Moment". I never heard them do anything from the first LP live. They also featured on BBC radio, mainly "Top Gear".
I find the songs very strong ( can take a few plays) well produced and presented. Along with "Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera" I think the album is a feast of well written melodic pop songs, both under rated and obscure to most people. Of course it is all subjective.........
I couldn't comment on the bonus tracks, but always nice to get more than the basic original LP length.
Lastly, it makes you wonder how the band felt about this, their first album. On the cover of their 3rd LP "Workers Playtime" ( the band now called themselves B.B. Blunder) the band members are standing in a street with clear bags of rubbish. The cover of "We Are Ever So Clean" is in one of the bags! Ironically I find the 3rd album dire!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2010
What do you want from your British psychedelia? If it's songs about silly little frozen dogs and the people of the royal parks then look no further because Blossom Toes had them, much like they had it in them to produce this `lost' gem (surely in this respect something only gets lost if people don't pay it much attention at the time?) Send your answer on a Bakelite postcard, please.

`The Toes' had range too, without being splayed (ouch) Any band that can take in both the (kind of) knees up that is `I'll Be Late For Tea' and the wistful `Love Is' -both from the pen of guitar wiz `Little' Brian Godding incidentally- can lay claim to that.

`I Will Bring You This And That' has what some critic of the time (1967) would probably have described as `a driving beat' but then he or she would have been writing at a time when such a phrase still had some meaning.

These and other delights make for a quintessential slice of British psychedelia which at the risk of provoking the music police this reviewer reckons to be up there with early Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. All the songs knock seven shades of faeces out of something like `Corporal Clegg`on the second Floyd album for example, and it's high time those Toes were set figuratively a-wiggling again.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Let me just say that this album is everything it's said be, and that the review below probably reflects the view of someone who prefers hard rock to pop music.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This album and "If Only for a Moment" were gound breaking albums and paved the way for bands like Wishbone Ash and subsequently Thin Lizzy in the use of harmony twin-lead guitars. This band shaped my whole approach to guitar and I cannot believe that they are as relatively inaccessible as appear to be, especially as members of the band rose to quite prominent careers, eg Jim Cregan, Kevin Westlake, Pol Palmer. The industry should be proud of this formative contribution and shout it out loud! It shaped a landscape we now so easily take for granted. Back in those days this was unchartered territory.
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true pyschedelic gem - brilliant sixties stuff from an underated band
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