July 30, 2009


(The Smoke - Banned at the starting gate)

I doubt The Smoke are a band anyone on this side of the Atlantic has ever heard of, unless you are a die hard collector of psychedelia or knew someone who actually was familiar with this band at the time.

The Smoke was a short-lived outfit famous (or infamous) for their very first hit single "My Friend Jack" - an innocent sounding title, but the rest of the line goes " . . eats sugar lumps". Sugar lumps being something of a code word for the thing LSD was laced with. Right off the bat, it was banned from any airplay in England. So naturally, when anything is banned it races up the charts just on sheer rumor alone. There have been several bands with the name The Smoke, including one that did get released in the States on Tower, but they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Sadly though, The Smoke were a one hit wonder. And after several tries, of which this particular single "Have Some More Tea" was one, they gave up and went their separate ways. But not before recording an albums worth of material and making an indelible impression on any record collector who came their way. In later years, "My Friend Jack" has become something of an underground classic, being covered by Boney M (which has a connection to The Smoke) and Wondermints. I actually never heard this band the first time around, but discovered them on the recommendation of a guy named Yves who ran Vinyl Solution in London in 1979.

It's all his fault - thank God.

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