Monday, December 24, 2018

The Others / Sands / Sun Dragon – Listen To The Sky (1964-73 uk, fascinating mod psych beat, 2006 remaster)

Rob Freeman and Ian McLintock never quite achieved rock stardom, but it wasn't for a lack of talent or effort, and their career together unwittingly serves as a superb example of the shifting tides of the British rock scene in the 1960s and early '70s. Freeman and McLintock's recordings get a thorough examination on Listen to the Sky, which follows the stylistic evolution of their bands over the course of a decade. Freeman (guitar and vocals) and McLintock (bass and vocals) first worked together in the Others, an R&B combo from Southwest London whose lone single, a cover of Bo Diddley's "Oh Yeah," was a well crafted rave-up in the manner of the Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things. Both sides of that single appear here, along with an unreleased follow-up, but by 1966 the Others had split and Freeman and McLintock had formed a new band, the more pop-oriented Sands. 

There was more than a bit of nascent psychedelia in Sands' music, especially their cover of the Bee Gees' "Mrs. Gillespie's Refrigerator" and "Listen to the Sky," an original that ends in a bizarre noise coda that quotes Holst's The Planets! After one single Sands fell apart, despite management by Brian Epstein, but Freeman and McLintock soldiered on with a new project, Sun Dragon, which scored an almost-hit with their cover of the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine" in 1968 (with typical luck, their label's pressing plant went on strike as the single was starting to gain radio play, prematurely ending its run on the charts). 

Sun Dragon's music was more polished and calculatingly commercial than their earlier efforts, with polished production and a strong emphasis on covers, but the group's first and only album, included here, is well-crafted U.K. pop that would have done some of the better-known production teams of the day proud. The set closes out with two cuts from post-Sun Dragon projects of the '70s, which are slick but solidly professional pop product. Given the stylistic diversity of the music here, Listen to the Sky would best serve loyal fans of Freeman and McLintock, who unfortunately are small in number, but folks with an interest in how U.K. pop changed during the '60s will find this edifying, and Freeman and McLintock's undervalued talent is certainly evident throughout. 
by Mark Deming
Artists - Tracks
1. The Others - Oh Yeah (Ellas McDaniel) - 2:53
2. The Others - If You Don't Come Back (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:17
3. The Others - Smokestack Lightning (Chester Burnett) - 2:36
4. The Others - I'm Taking Her Home (Ian McLintock, Paul Stewart) - 2:17
5. Sands - River Deep, Mountain High (Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector) - 3:27
6. Sands - Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator (Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb) - 2:06
7. Sands - Listen To The Sky (Paul Stewart, Peter Hammerton) - 3:45
8. Sands - Weddings Make Me Cry (Andrew Pope, Herb Rooney) - 2:43
9. Sun Dragon - Green Tambourine (Paul Leka, Shelley Pinz) - 2:25
10.Sun Dragon - So You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 2:01
11.Sun Dragon - Seventeen (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:43
12.Sun Dragon - Peacock Dress (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:19
13.Sun Dragon - Five White Horses (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:30
14.Sun Dragon - Far Away Mountain (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:53
15.Sun Dragon - Blueberry Blue (Paul Leka, Shelley Pinz) - 2:22
16.Sun Dragon - Love Minus Zero (Bob Dylan) - 3:19
17.Sun Dragon - I Need All The Friends I Can Get (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:26
18.Sun Dragon - Windy (Ruthann Friedman) - 2:10
19.Sun Dragon - Empty Highway (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:39
20.Sun Dragon - Look At The Sun (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:56
21.High Noon - Drivin' Drivin' (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:29
22.High Noon - Bring Back That Love Again (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:39
23.McLintock - Hey, Hey, What Do You See (Ian McLintock, Bob Freeman) - 2:43

*Ian McLintock - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Freeman - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Paul Stewart - Vocals (Tracks 1-8)
*Nigel Baldwin - Drums (Tracks 1-4)
*John Standley - Lead Guitar (Tracks 1-4)
*Peter Hammerton - Lead Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 5-8)
*Ray Cook - Drums (Tracks 5-8)
*Richie Blackmore - Guitar
*Jon Lord - Keyboards
*Ian Paice - Drums
*Nick Robbins - Synthesizer

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