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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Attack - Magic In The Air (1967-69 uk, exciting freakbeat garage, psych)

You can say that the Attack were in fact, at least a couple different groups for the fact that vocalist Richard Sherman had to regroup Attack from almost scratch 3 times.

The Attack's beginnings lie in a group called The Soul System. With members coming and going, once a stabilized 5 piece arouse, the band came attention to Don Arden, a top agent who signed them, found their first single (Try It, a Standells tune), and changed their name to Attack. Issued in January 1967, the single didn't do much on the charts.

However with it's heavy garage sound, it is considered a minor Freakbeat classic. The flip side We Don't Know is a rather strange jazz/soul and freakbeat hybrid with some silly lyrics. This same lineup stayed for the recording of their next single Hi-Ho Silver Lining before disbanding due to the lack of success with both 45's. Hi-Ho Silver Lining was met with fierce competition as Jeff Beck, who presumably heard The Attack's version and rushed out his own version as his first single after only a few days of The Attack's single.

The result was Jeff Beck getting the hit with Hi-Ho. The B side to Hi-Ho was an awesome piece of freakbeat, Any More Than I Do. This number, apart from being featured in recent compilations of the years, was used by John Peel for a radio jingle for the pirate Radio London. The guitarist responsible for the powerful riffing on Any More Than I Do, David O'List left to join the Nice in breaking new ground for a while, whilst drummer Alan Whitehead went back to the Marmalade and the others faded into obscurity.

Richard Sherman, now the only one left, regrouped The Attack with Scottish organist George Watt, drummer Chris Allen, guitarist Geoff Richardson and bassist Kenny Harold. Their follow up to Hi-Ho was another kinda cheeky and very English affair, Created By Clive. In a very ironic coincidence, two versions of Created By Clive were released the same day, by The Attack and The Syn!

The result was neither got any attention that the song was meant for which was probably better off as the liner notes of their posthumous compilation Magic In The Air notes "Clive, a fashion designer who specialized in dressing debs in see-through mini-dresses, would have probably sued anyway".

The new guitarist Geoff Richardson penned their B side, the slow tamped raga Colour Of My Mind. With the single just barely in the shops, a new guitarist John DuCann was added and the drummer and keyboard player were replaced too. With this lineup, The Attack went about playing all the venues available, Middle Earth, Tiles, the Speakeasy etc.

However personnel changes shifted once more in the summer of 1967, and Geoff Richardson and Kenny Harold left being replaced by Jim Avery. The recorded the two sides of their next single, Magic In The Air/Lady Orange Peel but the A side was rejected by Decca for being too heavy and the band were sent in to record the harmless Neville Thumbcatch.

Two more tracks were recorded in October 1967, covers of Morning Dew and Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, but the single that was eventually released in January 1968 was Neville Thumbcatch backed with Lady Orange Peel.

Thumbcatch was very similar to Cream's Pressed Rat And Warthog with it's narrative verses and trumpet melodies. With this single, the group disbanded again. DuCann and Sherman kept Attack alive, recruiting bassist Roger Deane and drummer Keith Hodge and continued on as a four piece.

This last lineup recorded tracks for a future album and single, all left in the can. Before their split in mid 1968, the group recorded many songs, including Winding Up Clocks, Feel Like Flying, Strange House, Just Waiting, Freedom For You, etc. Unfortunately, not all of these tracks survived when the Magic In The Air album was being compiled.

But featuring all their singles (with one exception, Created By Clive) and a handful of unreleased tracks from their 1968 album sessions, the compilation gives a better look at who The Attack were really about.

Tracks like Magic In The Air, Strange House, Freedom For You & Colour Of My Mind justify their high place in British freakbeat/psych history. Perhaps with a more stable lineup, the band would have reached farther than they did.

1.Magic In The Air (John DuCann) - 3:39
2.Colour Of My Mind (Richard Sherman) - 2:29
3.Mr. Pinnodomy's Dilema (John DuCann) - 4:28
4.Hi Ho Silver Lining (English Weiss, Lancer) - 2:30
5.Try It (Levine, Ballack) - 2:03
6.Freedom For You (John DuCann) - 2:35
7.Any More Than I Do (O'List, Sherman) - 2:04
8.Strange House (John DuCann) - 4:11
9.Neville Thiumbcatch (Smith, Bain) - 3:03
10.Feel Like Flying (John DuCann) - 2:37
11.Lady Orange Peel (Richard Sherman) - 2:24
12.We Don't Know (O'List, Sherman) - 2:50
13.Too Old (John DuCann) - 3:08
14.Go Your Own Way (John DuCann) - 2:45

*John DuCann  - Guitar
*Richard Sherman - Vocals
*George Watt - Organ
*Chris Allen - Drums
*Jim Avery - Bass Guitar
*Geoff Richardson - Guitar
*Kenny Harold - Bass Guitar
*Keith Hodge - Drums
*Roger Deane - Bass Guitar
*Gerry Henderson - Bass
*Davey O'List - Guitar
*Bob Hodges - Organ
*Alan Whitehead - Drums

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