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Kaleidoscope / Fairfield Parlour (from the 'Please Listen to the Pictures' sleeve notes)
 Of all the commercially unsuccessful bands prevalent in the rich tapestry of late sixties pop, Kaleidoscope command from many a degree of respect, esteem and admiration which surpasses that bestowed upon any of their contemporaries. A bold claim indeed but examination of their brace of singles and albums as both Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour reveals a musical legacy of unparalleled consistence, magnificence and beauty, and a standard of perfectionism attained only by those at the very summit of the pop world. 'Please Listen To The Pictures' unveils a rarely heard side to their work, and collects together for the first time all the known extant examples of their recordings for BBC radio from 1967 to 1971.


In the notoriously fickle and cluttered sphere of pop music the commercial failure of Peter Daltrey, Eddy Pumer, Dan Bridgman and Steve Clark remains it's most unjust episode, but the reasons lay primarily in the vacillation of the British public and the negligence of chambers of their record company rather than from a lack of support on the part of the BBC or the pirate radio stations. Indeed singles like 'Jenny Artichoke' in particular were subject to saturation airplay and that record especially had passers by whistling in the streets, but the band themselves distinctly remember fans bemoaning the dearth of available copies in the shops. Infuriatingly the live take of 'Jenny' that was committed to a BBC transcription disc in 1968 could not be located in the BBC Sound Archives, but the existence of six other similar discs has enabled the inclusion of the majority of the tracks on this collection.

A BBC transcription disc was a normal twelve inch vinyl record housed in a fairly plain generic sleeve, replete with continuity sheets which furnished the recipient with song titles, time duration, music publishing details and a running order for the programme. Despatched to radio stations all over the world, the discs had a shelf life of six months and were designed to present a British pop music programme in regions outside of the UK. With the exception of 'Bless The Executioner' [which was included on a transcription service broadcast under the banner of 'Progressive Pop'], the selections that emanate from transcription discs on this album were all collected on the long running 'Top Of The Pops' series. Unconnected to the familiar television programme, the 'Top Of The Pops' series took live radio recordings principally from the prime pop shows of the time that aired live and specifically recorded music [mainly 'Saturday Club' and 'Top Gear'], and embellished them with a fresh commentary from Brian Matthew to create a new radio programme. Usually running for about forty five minutes, a 'Top Of The Pops' show generally featured two or three numbers by a selection of four or five artists and groups - the first disc for example [from October 1967] that premiered music by Kaleidoscope also included performances by Eric Burdon and the Animals, Tomorrow, the Moody Blues and the Flowerpot Men.


Assembled, manufactured and despatched it would appear on a weekly basis, a large number of the transcription discs pressed still reside in the BBC archives and remain the most vital evidence of live radio recordings of the period. Even at the time [particularly in the case of daytime programmes], huge numbers of tapes were erased and re used and in the climate of the early to mid 70's many that had survived the previous decade [along with thousands of television programmes] were similarly wiped or simply destroyed.
The historical and cultural significance of the entertainment contained therein was not an issue at the time, not to mention more down to earth matters of issues like artists' rights and the omnipresent financial considerations.

A system was in operation whereby producers etc could place retention cards on tapes that were thought to be of particular importance or value but the system was not foolproof - consequently producers like Jeff Griffin stockpiled tapes in their offices and their premises would soon become engulfed with tape boxes. Jeff remembers annual visits from over zealous tape wiping staff who would enquire as to which further programmes could be dispensed with, and recalls being pressured to "Get rid of some!". With such practices and attitudes prevailing even the Beatles' and the Stones' legacy was not safe - so what chance for Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour?

Aside from a reel of Fairfield Parlour performances that were recorded at the Aeolean Hall for a John Peel programme in April 1970, no Kaleidoscope/FP tapes are known to survive in the BBC archives - as enlarged upon earlier the transcription discs are the primary source for the surviving material. However thanks to the phenomenon of home taping [which was still rather in it's infancy in the 60's], four more recordings have been found and are included on this collection. Since both radio [and television] reception in those days could be notoriously erratic, reel-to-reel tapes of off - air recordings are often of varying quality and the four said inclusions are no exception. Despite expert sound restoration the quality of the taped recordings left little scope for improvement but the disposition of the tapes has definitely been bettered, and since they are in all probability the only extant surviving source of these performances their inclusion is fully justified [and it's bloody good music too].

Despite their less than perfect timbre these four unique recordings are amongst the most interesting selections on 'Please Listen To The Pictures'. 'Faintly Blowing' and '[Further Reflections] In The Room Of Percussion' were transmitted on 'Top Gear' in January 1968, though were actually recorded [as Peter Daltrey's diaries corroborate] on the 13th of December 1967 in the BBC's Maida Vale studios. As that Wednesday afternoon session faintly blew into early evening Kaleidoscope completed their Beeb work and left at 7.00 p.m, arriving at the Fontana label's studios in Stanhope Place at 7.30 to record their next single 'A Dream For Julie' that very night. As 'Faintly Blowing' did not appear on record [on the similarly titled album] until early 1969, the existence of a 1967 recording is particularly fascinating and offers another variation on what is indisputably one of the finest and best loved Kaleidoscope compositions. Peter Daltrey noted at the time that the 'Top Gear' recording session "went well", which is less than surprising when taking into account the fact that the team of producers and engineers behind the show were far more sympathetic to the trends in pop music than many in similar positions in the BBC's employ. It must be remembered that few in the highest echelons of the BBC at that time had any real inkling of what pop music was about and were very much steeped in the old traditions - even the BBC's head of pop music [as Jeff Griffin recalls] was far more inclined to the classical side of broadcasting. Despite the BBC's awareness of the necessity for a 'progressive music' programme, Bernie Andrews remembers receiving a lot of flak for "putting on a load of rubbish" and having to compromise somewhat with 'Top Gear' at times by including familiar mainstream pop artists. Nevertheless the programme [which was first transmitted on the Sunday after Radio One's launch] was the most innovative and interesting show on the radio, thanks to its producers' devotion to seeking out and recording the most respected and progressive artists of the day. Bernie selected the groups through a variety of channels, whether it was through seeing live performances or receiving demos, acetates or test pressings from record labels or managers. Though John Peel would become synonymous with 'Top Gear', in it's initial months he co - presented the show with a number of deejays who too had been shortlisted as possible long term anchormen for the programme - consequently following 'Faintly Blowing' and '[Further Reflections] In The Room Of Percussion' you can distinctly hear the familiar vocal chords of Tommy Vance.
The other two off air recordings premiered on 'Please Listen To The Pictures' are of especial significance, and for many will have justifiable claim as the most singular inclusions on the album.

Though the bulk of the selections on this collection are indeed Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour performing in an assortment of BBC studios, 'Do It Again For Jeffrey' and '[Love Song] For Annie' are no less than Kaleidoscope live on stage in front of an audience - and are almost certainly the only surviving testimony to their stage presence. The deficiency of the off - air recordings was enlarged upon earlier but the boom and distortion of 'Jeffrey' and 'Annie' can be attributed as much to the amplitude of messrs. Daltrey, Pumer, Bridgman and Clark and the less than perfect positioning of the BBC's microphones, rather than simply the less than ideal setting of taping off a radiogram on that April afternoon in 1969.


Throughout their BBC experiences Peter remembers engineers regularly imploring Eddy to "turn it down!" and the amplification of the instruments together with Peter's more pronounced and less restrained vocals on 'Jeffrey' and 'Annie' give us an indication at least of the potency and volume of a Kaleidoscope gig. 'Jeffrey' and 'Annie' were aired on the afternoon of the 15th of April 1969 on 'Radio One Club', a daily weekday programme that was vaguely a precursor to the 'Radio One Roadshow' us thirty something's may remember. With a variety of guesting deejays and visiting artists the show entertained audiences at many venues throughout the British Isles, and these Kaleidoscope performances were broadcast from London and enthusiastically linked by Keith Skues. Sadly only two out of six numbers performed by the band on that day survive, though an entry in Peter's diary recalls the whole proceedings: "On Tuesday 15th of April 1969 we did our second Radio One Club. Arrived at 9.30 a.m., had a run through. Played six numbers live;'Snapdragon', 'Face', 'Music', 'Jeffrey', 'Annie' and 'Faintly Blowing'. Pete played organ. Good crowd. Played well, not as nervous as last time. Keith Skues and John Peel deejayed". You'll note the rather abrupt close to '[Love Song] For Annie', unfortunately that is the point where the tape ends.
In terms of BBC work live sets before an audience were comparatively rare - even in the live setting of 'Radio One Club', bands often used to mime to a specifically recorded backing track and simply furnish the proceedings with a live vocal. For their own first appearance on 'Radio One Club' Kaleidoscope themselves recorded the instrumentation at the Paris Studios with producer Don George on the 30th of October 1968, and the following day the band mimed whilst Peter sang the songs live to the audience. That particular show isn't known to have survived, and incidentally was repeated a month later.

The more usual rule of thumb however for BBC sessions was to record numbers a week or two before the date of transmission, and then the tapes could be slotted in where desired during a broadcast. Peter remembers instances of the band listening to themselves playing and being interviewed on the radio on a number of occasions, whilst actually sitting in a van on the way to a gig in Cleethorpes or some similarly inviting beauty spot. Therefore [particularly in the case of daytime programmes such as 'Sounds like Tony Brandon' or The David Symonds Show'] the tapes could be retained for a short while, and then re - utilised for another programme. David Symonds especially was one of the band's keenest supporters, and would go on to manage them from late 1969 onwards.
Unlike today BBC radio programmes at that time were laden with specifically recorded music in accordance with needletime restrictions imposed by bodies such as the Musicians Union, to offset the scenario of music purely through discs and thus allowing their members another avenue of paid work. By their very nature the pirate stations had no reason to pander to such legislation but the BBC as an official broadcaster had no alternative, so employed scores of groups and artists to fulfil the criteria. Since so many sessions were undertaken many BBC production staff were rather indifferent in their attitude to the job in hand, so the daily succession of artists bred something of a conveyor belt mentality in some of those working behind the recording desks.


A typical day at the BBC for Kaleidoscope would run something like this; upon arrival the band would unload their equipment and proceed to take it into the studio. Peter remembers the very archaic nature of the environment, with the engineers smart in their white coats surrounded by ancient banks of recording equipment with correspondingly huge knobs and dials.

The engineers would set up the microphones and do a sound check, and then retreat behind the control room window and basically leave Kaleidoscope to their own devices. Selecting the numbers was usually an on the spot thing and the group would generally perform four or five numbers, the time restrictions placed on them leaving little margin for error or manoeuvre to do more than one take. With some production teams being obvious in their rather apathetic attitude to the proceedings [looking at their watches, reading the paper, brewing tea et al], it wasn't always the most conducive atmosphere for making music, and often for the production staff it was after all just another band. The group rarely heard a playback of what they'd just performed and bands weren't often welcome in the control room, so there was frequently little scope for anything approaching overdubs. Don't forget that after all this was the late 60's and Kaleidoscope's music like many of it's contemporaries was treated to all sorts of experimental tinkering, and allowed the full range of double and triple tracking in it's home environment at the Philips' Studios in Stanhope Place - but at the BBC the setting was far more primitive and the procedures far more restrictive. Close harmonies for example could be difficult to replicate outside of the confines of a well equipped recording studio [witness the Beatles no less struggling with 'Paperback Writer' at a Japanese concert in the 'Anthology' series], and with for example the backing vocals on the 'Flight From Ashiya' single being sped up it was obviously a daunting task to reproduce them in the less comfortable environment of a BBC studio.

Nevertheless Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour still managed to produce magic under these conditions, though on a few numbers on 'Please Listen To The Pictures' the keen eared will detect a Fontana or Vertigo backing track hiding behind Peter's vocals. These circumstances didn't occur too often but occasionally the BBC engineers would ask the band to bring along backing tracks to the next session as they were likely to be tight for time, so the group's producer Dick Leahy would knock - up a tape for them to take along to a session. As Kaleidoscope weren't always happy with their treatment at the hands of BBC production teams the use of backing tracks had it's advantages twofold - whilst discussing with engineers the proceedings for an impending session Peter or Eddy for example could drop in "Oh by the way we've brought some backing tapes" to which a delighted engineer would exclaim "Oh we'll use those then!". So then the Beeb chaps would pack their equipment away and cheerfully be in time for the 5.30 to Watford. Being the perfectionists they were though Kaleidoscope felt that the scenario was rather dishonest and though on occasion it did have a benefit or was convenient, it was not a course they pursued often. As for the all important subject of payment for sessions, Bernie Andrews recalls that he would pay a quartet in the early days of 'Top Gear' something like £7.00 per member plus an £8.00 carriage fee for drums and amplifiers - and if the session was re - aired a repeat fee would be paid.

Kaleidoscope's first BBC session work was recorded on the 21st of September 1967[less than a fortnight after the release of 'Flight From Ashiya'] and the set was aired on the first Radio One edition of 'Monday, Monday'. Most of the band's recordings for the BBC were done during their tenure as Kaleidoscope, since the group as Fairfield Parlour preferred to concentrate on live gigs and by that time had lees interest in promoting [and indeed recording] singles. Their last BBC sessions were committed to tape in 1971 and are again of especial importance, since 'Matchseller', 'Diary Song' and 'Long Way Down' were the only contemporary evidence [besides live performances] of the 'White Faced Lady' album, which would ultimately remain unreleased for nineteen years. As Kaleidoscope, the band had also recorded for radio a number of songs that never saw the light of day on singles or albums, and titles such as 'Little Town Girl', 'I pray for rain', 'Little Toys' and 'Face' tantalise us today as more colours from Kaleidoscope that we're sadly unlikely ever to hear. The splendid 'Jump In My Boat' however does survive and makes it's first official appearance since the 60's on 'Please Listen To The Pictures'.

Despite the loss of so many singular recordings 'Please Listen To The Pictures' is nevertheless able to offer a unique barometer on the musical voyages and development of one of our most venerated bands, from the inflorescence of ingenious psychedelic pop to the concluding maturity and reverence of 'White Faced Lady'. And to quote Brian Matthew in his enthusiastic narrative for 'Dive Into Yesterday', we at Circle Records proudly exclaim: " This is the sound of….KALEIDOSCOPE !"
Nigel Lees, February 2003

With many thanks and due appreciation to Peter Daltrey, Eddy Pumer, Jeff Griffin and Bernie Andrews.