Listen to this track by British songwriter and lost Macca-esque psychedelia creator John Bromley. It’s “So Many Things”, a 1969 song as taken from his sole album Sing. On that album, and on this song, he is backed by The Fleur De Lys, his labelmates at the time. That band in turn was something of a rearguard to the British Invasion, launching in 1964, but never quite reaching the heights of their fellow beat combos who’d made the trip across the Atlantic.
The Fleur De Lys had trolled the edges of the ’60s rock scene, with touches from Chas Chandler, Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records, and Jimmy Page who had produced one of their singles, “Moondreams”. As you can hear, their sound had morphed into a classic Beatlesque stew with not just a few Who references, with the band having once recorded Pete Townshend’s “Circles” in 1966.
Bromley was primarily a songwriter, penning tunes for singer Jackie DeShannon. By the end of the decade, he was encouraged by Polydor to collect some of his singles together, including this one, for a full length album – Sing. Appropriately, it’s Bromley’s voice that stands out here, with lyrics that touch on a very important ingredient to be found on a certain kind of psychedelia that was in it’s last phase by the time this song had been recorded.
This song is rich with contrast, between the clanging guitar and the sweetness of the strings. You can practically hear the kaleidoscopic colours in this tune, as should be expected in a psych tune. The key ingredient here is the childlike nostalgia that this song evokes, lyrically speaking. For me, that’s what makes this something of a lost British psychedelic classic. It rings with hazy reminiscence that can be found in the best of the genre.
But by 1969, there had been a bit of a shift where this approach was concerned since the height of the psych period in 1966-67. The world had become less optimistic and open to whimsy by then, two years after the summer of love, and after some of the figureheads of the civil rights movement were no more. British psychedelia had begun to mutate into a more “progressive” and serious direction to contrast the nostalgic and twee nature of what psych bands had created. King Crimson’s “In The Court Of The Crimson King” is a good example of a darker, and less romanticized musical and thematic landscape from bands in Britain by the end of the 1960s when Bromley’s record came out. Perhaps this is why the song, and the record as a whole, didn’t take off.
Bromley eventually left the music business for a time, escaping the ins and outs of an often callous industry. This record has been a sought-after treasure for vinyl collectors over the years since, an artifact perhaps of a lost era that is attached, ironically, to a new kind of hazy nostalgia for many. Listening to this song now, it’s easy to appreciate its charms, especially with some distance between the time it was made, and now in the 21st century. My first listen to this song was via a Songza playlist that I frequent; the aptly named Have Some Twee: ’60s British Psych. As is so often the case, sometimes it takes a greater passage of time for something to sound new again.
If you’re a record collector, you should check out this link to investigate this record further.
If you’re not a vinyl collector, and want to buy the record, you can do it here on iTunes. Talk about a 21st century paradigm shift!