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Hippies almost play punk rock shock!,
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This review is from: Neverneverland (Audio CD)
This, the first of The Pink Fairies records, was released in 1971 and then followed by What A Bunch of Sweeties and Kings of Oblivion. All three have recently been re-released with additional bonus tracks. The Pink Fairies arose from the remnants of Mick Farren's band, The Deviants. Farren was a leading light in the alternative scene of the late 60s, and ten years later was writing for the NME during the punk explosion (for more details see his excellent biography Give The Anarchist A Cigarette). The Fairies themselves were still on the road in the late 70s, and their single Between The Lines was one of the first releases on the Stiff label. The booklets that come with the reissues make a major point of crediting The Fairies with pre-dating punk rock. I'm not sure about this - apart from drugs, what else did hippies and punks have in common? Answer - they couldn't play their instruments very well. OK, The Beatles and Paul Weller, amongst many others, weren't great when they started, so this really isn't the point.
There isn't much on Neverneverland that suggests instrumental virtuosity, and this isn't the point either. There are two drummers, Twink and Russell Hunter, bassist Duncan Sanderson, guitarist Paul Rudolph, and very few keyboards. Apart from Twink they all try to sing which is perhaps why almost all the tracks are fun, especially now, listening with 30 year's hindsight (sight?). No doubt about it, Do It and Teenage Rebel are almost punk songs, but many of the other tracks find The Fairies flirting with hippy oblivion - the guitar soars whilst the vocals drift. This applies to Heavenly Man, War Girl, Never Never Land, and Track One Side Two, but even these tracks have an underlying rockiness. The harsher side of their music comes out on Uncle Harry's Last Freakout. You get two versions of this, with and without vocals. The vocals give the 10-minute version a bit more edge, but swamp some of Rudolph's finer moments. Listen out for the electronic bleep that should focus your concentration as Uncle Harry starts to drift away! War Girl is a personal favourite, with whispered vocals that definitely work, Say You Love Me is a fine pop song, even though it carries many of the trademarks of its time. It might have made a more successful single than either Do It or The Snake. The second of these shows that The Faires liked a laugh. The lyrics could have been written by one of Benny Hill's scriptwriters, but it's fun, rather than offensive, and the words don't really harm the only one of the 4 bonus tracks that offers anything new. You then get editted versions of Do It and War Girl, and finally poor old Uncle Harry stretched out to 12 and a half minutes. With these extra tracks Neverneverland extends to 70 minutes, but this may be a case where more is actually less. Even I find it difficult to listen to The Fairies for more than an hour! In small doses - and Do It which opens the album is a good sampler, if you don't like it, don't do it - there is enough here to make this CD well worth buying - if you like guitar driven rock played by hippies with a sense of humour.