Guess I'd better give you the breaking news before I go into my rave about this fave. The last deal was a disaster and a week ago tonight I went so off the rails as a result that I'm still in a state of shock over how out of control I became. Records are great, but when they lead to things like constant friction in the family and uncertainty about my future then it's time for some things to go. I'm not saying I'm giving up- that will never happen. I'm merely saying that I plan on doing everything even inhumanly (for me!) possible and making a big effort to go from addiction back to obsession.
I've always had a passion for one subject at one time and oftentimes not two. It began with video games which isn't surprising as I was the perfect young age little boy to get big into them when they first came out. That was my major interest for a long period of time. I went from that to botany and from botany to the occult and from the occult to my admittedly it-always-was-there passion for music. I've been a music buff since I was 12. I started out in the 99 cent and metal sections which again was typical as "metal" was just beginning to go wrong in 1988 and there were loads of great bands to listen to who nowadays would never get called metal. It was fun.
Throughout my school and post school years it's been all about music, hockey players, and soldiers. I admit to having a penchant for uniformed men and it's not just the uniform. When you put on a uniform that's as blatant as when I put on my ruffled shirt and floral apparel in high school, had long hair, and went "Go Fuck Yourself Go To Hell" to the 90s generation. The truth about soldiers and hockey players is I feel some kind of warmth being generated by men and boys who risk their lives or risk serious injury. War is a tragedy. It never can be anything else, but fighting is another matter. I like a good argument. I don't support the kind of fights that lead to death and injury, but aggression never hurt a man to have on his side. Unfortunately, I seem to have for the last 4 or so years been ignoring the disciplined aspect of my heroes and following in the wake of my long since or recently dead musician heroes who died of overdoses/overindulgence. The frightening similarity has dawned on me now. Records won't kill me, but to keep on going with the kind of suicidal destructive behavior I've been exhibiting could well kill me if I don't stop it at once. I'm getting 13 or something like that monster great records from Europe, England, and one from New Zealand and I will not only show a whole lot more patience than before I am in true Robert Graves WW1 fashion after this is done giving a "GOODBYE TO ALL THAT." I shall go away from the bad part of my record addiction and get back into listening and soaking up the good vibrations that come from a saner lifestyle. You'll be hearing a lot from me, but the blatantly poor excuses and off-the-rails addictive tendencies have to be stopped at once.
Music was at a real high in the 60s and early 70s as The Beatles had made anything possible. I'm not big on early beat music before psychedelia came into play around 1966 and I really start in 1967. Beat is OK, but like garage rock the sleeve wearing of influences and numerous cover versions are a real turn off for me. In the psychedelic era cover versions had more punch, more energy, more go-for-the-throat interesting arrangements than the standard beat group who would just run through the latest top 40 hits.
There was something known as Freakbeat and also Mod Soul and that's where things get tasty and the transition from beat into Freakbeat and Mod soul is where The Fourmyula began. The name may be unfamiliar to you if you aren't a serious collector or from New Zealand where they came from, but these boys had a whole lot more to offer than almost any bands from Australia and make American psych sound like complete rubbish. I will have their first album which is the self titled one in a while- it will take some time to come from New Zealand, but I know the music well enough to say that the combination of perfect toytown psychedelic pop at its finest and crunching soulful Freakbeat make for a brilliant debut.
The Fourmyula got almost instantly huge in NZ, but it wasn't too surprising that they didn't get far elsewhere. It was enough to raise a grin, but having played their second album Green B. Holiday enough times to get blown away by it every time I can firmly say that they should have had a worldwide record deal and been huge everywhere. My opinion of The Zombies' masterwork Oddesey and Oracle has soured a bit because they unwisely included on it Chris White's gruesome tale of the carnage and horrors suffered in World War 1 "Butcher's Tale" whose title tells you everything you need to cringe about whenever this track comes on. It doesn't belong on such a beautiful record and really kind of does in Side Two making for a rather lopsided affair. Green B. Holiday not only matches the best material on Oddesey And Oracle it way surpasses it.
Looking for an album of perfection from outside the UK that equals the best of the best such as Kaleidoscope's Faintly Blowing and The Koobas one off work of genius? Look no further than The Fourmyula. What this quintet achieved on their second album, which by the way is a concept album/song cycle of sorts, is absolutely staggering in its power and majesty. From the opening title track through to the melancholy World Of Oz/Bee Gees alike masterpiece "Home" that closes the album the way Queen closed their albums with amazing tracks like "Bohemian Rhapsody" this is the best poppsych record ever recorded from anywhere. Strong words I know, but this may be EVEN BETTER THAN THE KOOBAS!!!! I don't know if that's possible, but I think it certainly equals them.
You can begin with the vocals. The lead voice is always sympathetic and deliciously uses oh-so-English phrasing that recalls Angel Pavement, Octopus. and the kind of instantaneous rush you'd get from McCartney and Ray Davis when you hear them. He sings with a lot of feeling and sounds completely into the songs and their changeable subject matter which creates a parallel between this album and The Kinks at their very best. Like Ray and brother Dave he's never overbearing and is more into the story telling aspect of the songs than in the "Let Me See How Much I Can Throw My Weight Around" kind of nonsense so prevalent in most American psych.
There are references throughout Green B. Holiday to old fashioned Victorian 19th century values/lifestyles and to the kind of people who have a tendency to get knocked down because they are a bit eccentric. It's an album of people you never forget, adventures you don't expect to happen, and daily life for people of both the working class and better side of the upper class. There's joy and unrestrained sadness too. I think of the early Bee Gees, but this is even better. The music is very focused and perfectly augments the lead voice and stunning harmonies with both power and restraint when need be. Musically The Fourmyula can more than back up their vocal abilities. You get everything from baroque Left Banke/Zombies/Bee Gees alike meticulous arranging to rockers like "My Mamma George" and "Fun" where the band blast you right clear out of your mind. Every song could be mentioned as a perfect masterpiece, but since Green B. Holiday is conceived as a kind of conceptual thing I can think of no better way to write about it than as a whole. Some of the album is so ambitious you can hear Klaatu and The Moody Blues in it and some is much more straight rocking. They would later try to become an American influenced hard rock band and that was a fatal error. Their later releases are still acceptable albums, but the first two are the two to get as there is none of the nonsense that came into play which always happens when a band loses sight of their identity and tries too hard to accommodate changing times.
A good comparison would be how Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera went from absolute perfection with their first album to the huge upheaval in line up and sound when they lost Elmer and became Velvet Opera. The folksier/rootsier music on Ride A Hustler's Dream doesn't match the excitement of their debut. Unfortunately for The Fourmyula they can't blame their less impressive third album Creation on a line up change they can blame it on the sad fact that they had gone off to England in search of international success and come back dazed by how much things were changing with the advent of harder heavier rock. That's not to say that they didn't rock before. They could knock you out like the best of them on their debut and Green B. Holiday and it would really have to be the American bug that bit them that you can blame. A lot of bands from other countries have gone wrong imitating American bands, but an American influence not an imitation can in the case of bands like Dog That Bit People and quite a few others be brilliant.
The Fourmyula as you hear them on Green B. Holiday sound so English that they manage to knock out of the running quite a few British poppsych "classics" and some that I would call classics for sure. Forget Apple's mediocre An Apple A Day which will set you back 3000 to 4000 pounds Green B. Holiday blows the lid off them, blows the lid off the horrendous Fire's Magic Shoemaker, and yet they are still fairly obscure to British, European, and American audiences as they didn't make any impression outside of New Zealand. In fact, they fared much worse than the Australian band Masters Apprentices who went to England frustrated by the lack of exposure outside Down Under. Masters Apprentices made two albums in England, but unfortunately for The Fourmyula they unwisely abandoned the excitement of their first two releases when sticking with what they had they surely might have almost counted on a completely different outcome in England. I had never heard of The Fourmyula when I was first collecting right up through finding a trashed copy of their first album 8 years ago. I think that makes it obvious what a well-kept secret they are. I'm not like some people who like to keep something this good a secret- I wish I had a reissue label because an exact analogue mastered duplicate of Green B. Holiday would be my first release. I love this album as you are by now more than well aware. I will always love England to the point where I love anything that remotely captures the same magic vibes that came out of that very special country. I've been down on it before, but I keep going back to it and now have decided to stay. I'm thinking of taking my own little holiday and that is part of the whole Goodbye To All That train of thought I'm on. I need a rest. I need to be where The Fourmyula are on this album and it's a really nice place to be. I suggest you join them as soon as you can. This is the kind of magical album that can't be matched by many others.
Goodbye to sickness and I'm ready for the hard work that goes into getting healthier. Till next time, Ben says goodnight and loves you all.