CD Review – Blossom Toes – We Are Ever So Clean (Box Set)

The 1960s were enormously fertile times for popular music, indeed all the arts, and there was a seemingly endless stream of bands trying to gain themselves a toe hold. Many of these bands fell by the way side, failing to gather any purchase on the slippery slope of success. Some others achieved a start and a degree of limited achievement. Blossom Toes were a British psychedelic pop band active between 1966 and 1970 who signed for Marmalade Records owned by Giorgio Gomelsky. We Are Ever So Clean was the band’s first album originally released in October 1967, but is now released in an impressive expanded three CD boxset version.

Time has been kind to the album. On release it was described, rather bitingly, by Melody Maker as “Giorgio Gomelsky’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, but by 2008 it was included at number 40 in Record Collector’s list of the “100 Greatest Psychedelic Records”, a higher position than Disraeli Gears, Their Satanic Majesties Request, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake and A Saucerful of Secrets amongst lots of others. For this edition, the album has been remastered and massively expanded to include twenty-seven bonus tracks consisting of live recordings, demos, and BBC sessions.

The group was originally known as The Ingoes, and featured Brian Godding on guitar, vocals, and keyboards, Jim Cregan on guitar and vocals, with Brian Belshaw on bass and vocals, with Kevin Westlake playing drums and percussion. They were very good musicians with some fine ideas. Godding and Cregan would go on to have successful careers after Blossom Toes had folded, Godding playing with Mike Westbrook, Kevin Coyne, Centipede and Magma, whilst Cregan was fruitful with Family, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Linda Lewis, Rod Stewart, Kate Melua and others. Godding and Cregan were both interviewed for the booklet that accompanies the release.

Musically, you can hear an influence of The Beatles, particularly from the vocal harmonies Blossom Toes employed having three singers in the band, and touches of the whimsical side of The Kinks. There is also a more than slight wackiness too, somewhat suggestive of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, although that band’s first album wasn’t released until 1967 either. Such things were in the air! But the band shows an innovative and original side of its own, particularly on the opening track Look At Me, I’m You and What On Earth. The songs are still in quite a poppy psychedelic vein, the shift to a heavier rocking style still about to coalesce, both for this band and popular music in general.

For the most part the remastering gives a very clean listen, but on the second disc, a performance from Philipe’s Club in Stockholm in August 1967, the sound is muffled and it sounds like a bootleg. The vocals are particularly difficult to pick up, which is a pity for the more story-telling songs such as The Remarkable Saga Of The Frozen Dog. There’s a little fuzziness to some of the demos and sessions too, but nothing too dire. You would expect it on recordings of this vintage.

Blossom Toes were, on the strength of this release, a little unlucky not to be more successful. They are undoubtedly good musicians and had plenty of song writing skills and nous. Perhaps the market was just too flooded at the time, or they didn’t just get the publicity that would have creaked the door to success just a little further open. They managed just another album with slightly different personnel, released in 1969, before folding. Latterly, this album has been lifted into something of a cult. It is an interesting though dated listen, coming from an era that was important for popular music. Out of psychedelia arose heavy metal, space rock, and progressive rock. Blossom Toes contributed a little to that creative atmosphere, and they certainly had worthwhile qualities. Overall, in spite of the sound quality of disc two, this release is an attractive one.

DISC ONE:

We Are Ever So Clean Released: October 1967

1 Look at Me, I’m You

2 I’ll Be Late for Tea

3 The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog

4 Telegram Tuesday

5 Love Is

6 What is It For?

7 People of the Royal Parks

8 What On Earth

9 Mrs Murphy’s Budgerigar

10 I Will Bring You This and That

11 Mister Watchmaker

12 When the Alarm Clock Rings

13 The Intrepid Balloonists Handbook, Volume 1

14 You

15 Track for Speedy Freaks (Instant Digest LP)

Bonus tracks

16 Everybody’s Talking (studio out-take)

17 I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (A- side of single, released in March 1968)

18 Look At Me, I’m You (instrumental track)

19 I’ll Be Late for Tea (instrumental track)

DISC TWO:

Live at Philipe’s Club, Stockholm – 26th August 1967

1 Listen to the Silence

2 Electricity

3 Captain Trips

4 Love Us Like We Love You

5 The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog

6 Woman Mind

7 Smokestack Lightning

8 First Love Song

DISC THREE:

Demos And BBC Sessions Autumn 1967 – Spring 1968

1 Collects Little Girls (first demo)

2 Hometime (first demo)

3 Looking Up I’m Looking Back (first demo)

4 Mister Watchmaker (BBC Radio One “Top Gear” session – 23rd October 1967)

5 What On Earth (BBC Radio One “Top Gear” session – 23rd October 1967)

6 The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog (BBC Radio One “Top Gear” session – 23rd October 1967)

7 Jim Cregan Interview / Love Is (BBC Radio One “Top Gear” session – 25th March 1968)

8 I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (BBC Radio One “Top Gear” session – 25th March 1968)

9 Collects Little Girls

10 Backstreet

11 Ever Since a Memory

12 Going Home

13 Hometime

14 Looking Up I’m Looking Back

15 Penny And The Pennies

Release date: 28th January, 2022

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: CD Box set

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