November 14, 2011

Sopwith Camel - A whole lot more than one-hit wonders.

Sopwith Camel are no strangers to this site. I've gone on about how they were pigeonholed as a "bubble gum - one hit wonder" band of the psychedelic era. They did have the dubious distinction of having a hit single right out of the starting gate, and they were only the second band from the San Francisco area to be signed to a major label deal. That last distinction caused a certain amount of ill-will towards the band among musicians in their home town. They had only been together a little less than a year and hadn't really "come up the ladder" as it were, by playing endless bars and gigs all around the Bay area. So there was some resentment towards the band and their early success. It was all unjustified as the hit single was only one hit single, there weren't any more and the album was the first and only to come out before the band broke up and resurfaced in the early 1970's.

If you got past "Hello, Hello" the light, breezy froth-laden single that raced up the charts, and spent time listening to the rest of the album, you would have found a different story altogether, as is evidenced by tonight's track The Great Morpheum - a steaming vat of Psychedelia guaranteed not to get any AM airplay.

Sadly, Sopwith Camel weren't able to recapture the initial excitement when they reformed and they have been overlooked in some circles as one of the prime examples of San Francisco Psychedelia. But the proof is in the listening, and upon listening I realized the band hasn't aged badly at all.

Clearly, they were on to something.

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