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Plain and Fancy

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sidetrack - Baby (1969 us, baroque psych pop, with some colourful melodic clarity in expression)

Very little information is known from this group. This seems to be a professionally recorded demonstration copy for an intended Elektra release, which never happened. The Sidetrack consisted of Alan, Christopher and Peter Brown, Kenneth Gullmartin, Andrew Higgs and John Lewis.

The album has is own special atmosphere, which is end of ‘60’s styled, song driven –with some colourful melodic clarity in expression-. It is well arranged, often with multilayered keyboards (piano’s, harpsichord, organ), bass and drums but almost no guitars. The songs fit well together as if there’s a story line between them. The baroque elements are also very special which are worked out now and then, at first only a little bit on “Baby”, and well adapted into the composition on “Sweet Substitute”.

“Blues for Matthew” has true Bach-like arrangements, a complex almost symphonic track with string-,band- and vocal arrangements. A blues element of harmonica is mixed greatly into this rather unique track. The first tracks on the second side are rather short. A separate song easily remembered into as a pop standard and to take out of the context of the album, might be “Summership”. “2314-B” is the second long track, with a jazzy/bluesy, half composed, half improvised evolution of organ, harpsichord, bass, harmonica, and some complex rhythms. Also this track has a rather baroque symphonic theme further on, which is equally successfull and in a catchy way mixed with the other styles.

After such an impressive complex track, “Knowing what you hold so dear” is held much simpler, a short song accompanied by some acoustic guitar arrangement only.  A very enjoyable album which deserves this first reissue. Only a shame there isn’t a real cover designed for it, we don’t have real band info, not even a photograph.

Andrew Higgs wrote on PHROCKBlog
Yes it's too bad it wasn't produced and released by Elektra, but it was our fault not the label's. The label's offer of a contract was firm. We opted (we were young!) to create our own record to market to labels as a finished product but, certainly in my opinion, the professional production offered by Elektra would have resulted in a much better recording... and no label offered to release our independent effort. (And fyi my vote was to accept the Electra contract) We had even received an expression of interest from Dick James at Apple Records at one point (that was really exciting!), but alas didn't hear from them again. Thanks for your very nice write up... especially the bit about the bass playing.
Andrew Higgs, Sidetrack bass player.
May 3, 2010 6:25 PM

1. Rock 'n' Roll - 3:33
2. Peace Of Mind - 2:54
3. Summership - 2:08
4. 3214-B - 3:00
5. Knowing What You Hold So Dear - 3:54
6. Baby - 6:23
7. Colors - 2:30
8. Wild Eyes - 3:22
9. Monkey - 2:49
10.Sweet Substitute - 11:05
11.Blues For Matthew - 1:50

The Sidetrack
*Alan Brown
*Christopher Brown
*Peter Brown
*Kenneth Gullmartin
*Andrew Higgs - Bass
*John Lewis

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