Clifton’s Corner :: Volume 10 – Freakbeat Primer

(Volume 10 of Clifton’s Corner. Every other week on the blog Clifton Weaver, aka DJ Soft Touch, shares some of his favorite spins, old and new, in the worlds of soul, r&b, funk, psych and beyond. — AD)

I can’t remember who said it, but I’ve always been a firm believer in “There are only two types of music, good and bad.” Having said that, music has always been (and probably always will be divided into categories). Established genres like jazz, rock n’ roll, and soul all began rooted in the same place (blues) but, as they developed, morphed into their own thing. Sometimes the differences are instantaneously apparent and a new category is made. Sometimes, though, it takes years for a new category to be defined. When was rock n’ roll really created? At one point exactly did funk become disco? I’m sure there are as many opinions and answers as there are people on the planet. All this brings me to one of my favorite post-hoc categories: Freakbeat.

Loosely defined as records that are too wild and aggressive to be Beat/R&B but not LSD drenched psychedelia, Freakbeat straddles the two distinct phases in UK pop and is best typified, in my opinion, by Revolver era Beatles (particularly the song “Taxman”). This batch of songs really shows the young UK groups transforming from mere copyists into original artists. Though brief, this period was crucial to the develop of psychedelia, prog rock & heavy rock. This list is just the surface of a deep well of quality tunes, my humble attempt to give you an idea of what’s out there. I hope you dig it.

MP3: Les Fleur de Lys :: So Come On — Amazing, under rated group that was signed to Andrew Oldham’s Immediate label. In my opinion, they never released a bad song. “So Come On” leans closer to the R&B side on the freakbeat spectrum and is great demonstration of the change that was occurring. My favorite song by Fleur de Lys is their cover of The Who’s “Circles,” but this is a close second.

MP3: Wimple Winch :: Atmosphere

MP3: Fire :: Father’s Name Is Dad — Listen to that vocal melody. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” don’t you think?

MP3: The Smoke :: My Friend Jack — With this song, the LSD influence can be seen creeping into 60s music. Besides the obvious reference to eating ‘sugar lumps’, the prominent use of vibrato on the guitar also sets a psychedelic mood.

MP3: The Creation :: How Does It Feel To Feel? (UK Version) — Not much can be said about The Creation that hasn’t been said already. Groundbreaking and completely original don’t even begin to describe them. For me, they hold a special place in my heart because I had the chance to meet bassist Kim Gardener. My first band and I would spend Sunday evenings at his bar in LA, The Cat & Fiddle, and listen while he would tell us great stories about the 60s UK music scene and all the bands around during that time. He was a real gentleman and I feel honored to have known him.

MP3: The Attack :: We Don’t Know — Another song on the R&B side of the spectrum. The tempo and aggression in playing really sets this song apart from other run of the mill, wannabe R&B copyists.

MP3: The Mickey Finn :: Garden Of My Mind — When I hear this song, one word comes to mind: ‘HEAVY’. Seeing as how Jimmy Page often played with this group (I’m not sure about this song), the heaviness of this recording isn’t surprising.

MP3: Loose Ends :: Taxman — A great, funky cover of the aforementioned “Taxman.” I know I’ve posted this one before but since George Harrison’s birthday just passed, I figured it was a fitting tribute.

*Previous Clifton’s Corner entries can be found here

13 thoughts on “Clifton’s Corner :: Volume 10 – Freakbeat Primer

  1. nicely done. i enjoy reading your blogs on Clifton’s corner. guaranteed i’ll find a new favorite song. 🙂

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