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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Misty - Here Again (1969-70 uk, wonderful baroque beat psych light prog, 2022 digipak remaster and expanded)

In 1968, the band Misty came to be when organist Michael, who’d turned down a university place to pursue his musical dream, and bassist Steve Bingham both answered an ad to be part of a soul band. And while the resulting outfit didn’t end up going anywhere, Michael and Steve realised they were creative kindred spirits, even if as a classically trained player (Michael) and an R&B obsessive (Steve), they were very different.

“We realised we had an affinity, musically,” explains Michael, now aged 72. Misty was later completed by singer Tony Wootton, guitarist Freddie Green, and drummer John Timms.

There were high hopes for Misty. They were managed by Michael Grade, who would later become the controller of BBC1. After only a handful of gigs, the band was signed by the record label Parlophone and their first single, 1970’s Hot Cinnamon, arrived with a press release declaring: ‘Yesterday was The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cream. Today is: Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, Deep Purple. Tomorrow will be MISTY!’

Sadly, despite those high hopes, that grand future for Misty wasn’t to be. Despite being well liked and receiving a lot of radio play, Hot Cinnamon failed to chart, resulting in the album they’d recorded being shelved. Furthermore, a tour with Roy Orbison, whose grown-up pop stylings couldn’t have been more at odds with Misty’s unusual progressive rock, didn’t earn them many new fans – and the band soon called it a day. “We went our separate ways, which was sad and disappointing because it was a great band,” recalls Michael.

Some 35 years later, Michael, then working for a hotel and leisure company, was asked by his girlfriend at the time about the band he’d once been in. “She asked me where the album was,” recalls Michael, “and I said I had no idea, because I didn’t. To be honest, the band hadn’t crossed my mind until she brought it up. But somehow, she managed to find the acetate [test pressing] of the album. I was surprised that it worked and my son, who works in production, advised me to take it somewhere to be digitally enhanced.”

So, Michael did, and when he went to collect the recording three days later, the engineer told him that the boss there would like to see him as he was sure he’d heard that music before. When the boss eventually appeared, he asked some questions about the identity of the band, including its name and when they had originally recorded.

As it turned out, the boss, George ‘Porky’ Peckham, had been in a band called The Fourmost, peers of The Beatles and had been on the same Roy Orbison tour bill as Misty. “The fact he’d remembered our music 35 years later was astounding and was a sign it had an enduring quality,” smiles Michael.

Several years later, Michael went to a gig at the 100 Club, the legendary London venue. He happened to be wearing a t-shirt that had been made for him by his friend and featured a promotional picture of Misty taken back in the late 1960s. The t-shirt caught the attention of a man at the gig, who asked whether it was a picture of Misty.

“It turns out the guy had a copy of our single,” laughs Michael now. “He asked me many questions about what we did, including some television appearances. He asked where he could watch them, and I told him that I’d looked for them but had been told they weren’t available anymore. A few days later, this man, who was a Metropolitan Police Detective as well as a TV archivist, rang me to tell me he’d found one of our television appearances in the archives of the British Film Institute and arranged a screening for me.”

Despite being recorded some 52 years ago, the quality of the footage was remarkable and allowed Michael to reconnect with his younger self and music. “It was so vivid,” explains Michael. “It was like unearthing a time capsule and rediscovering an interesting part of my life.” Michael would have another chance to do so when an editor friend shared an article entitled ‘1969: The Year That Rocked’ about the sights and sounds of one of music’s most colourful periods.

“Misty recorded our album in a famous studio called Regent Sound Studio based in [London’s] Denmark Street, which was mentioned in the article,” says Michael. “So, I emailed my editor friend to tell him. He was on the phone within five minutes asking me about Misty’s album. Half an hour later, he called again to tell me many of the tracks were on Spotify!”

Now, however, Misty’s debut album ‘Here Again’ has been released properly. This hasn’t only resulted in the band’s fascinating and complex music finally being heard as it was meant to, but a reconnection between the men who made it after several decades apart. “I hadn’t spoken to Steve for 40 years,” Michael says of his one-time creative partner. “To be in touch again has been wonderful. When he walked into my flat again four decades on, it was like we’d never been apart.”

So, what effect does Michael hope Misty’s music will have on new listeners? “10 years ago, this was ancient history. I just hope that people find the music memorable and unique and appreciate our musicianship because it’s intricate stuff.”

Sadly, while the death of Misty’s drummer John Timms in 2012 has ruled out the chances of the band reuniting on stage again, Michael is still playing music for special occasions. “I only play for weddings and funerals,” he says, “and I definitely play at more funerals these days.”

1. Witness For The Resurrection - 4:09
2. Here Again - 2:34
3. A Question Of Trust - 4:00
4. Julie - 2:25
5. I Can See The Stars - 4:25
6. Harmonious Blacksmith - 2:40
7. Hot Cinnamon - 2:47
8. Cascades - 2:27
9. Animal Farm - 3:01
10.I Will Be There - 2:32
11.Lazy Guy - 2:35
12.John's Song - 3:42
13.Final Thoughts - 3:17
14.Witness For The Resurrection - 3:57
15.Cascades - 2:34
16.Hot Cinnamon - 3:17
17.John's Song - 3:51
All songs by Steve Bingham, Michael Gelardi except tracks 1,2,14 written by Tony Wootton

*Freddie Green - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Timms - Drums
*Michael Gelardi - Keyboards, Vocals
*Steve Bingham - Bass, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Wootton - Lead Vocals, 12 String Guitar