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Icarus Peel - Forget Me Not Under Pussy Willow

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 17 / 10 / 2016



Icarus Peel - Forget Me Not Under Pussy Willow
Label: Mega Dodo
Format: LP

intro

Fourth solo album from the Honey Pot’s Icarus Peel is a concept album about an undertaker, which is steeped in the sounds of the classic concept albums of the 1960s but also more


They make us proud to be English, these eccentric, hugely talented artists who seemed to disappear sometime after the early 1970's but have now made something of a comeback. Sure, they all look back to the golden days of the 1960s for inspiration, but the fact is this small but expanding group of musicians are using those sounds as a springboard for their own vision and creating wonderfully refreshing music. Three names come immediately to mind, Glenn Prangnell who explores the more beat side of the 1960s with Groovy Uncle and Suzi Chunk while throwing in touches of Northern Soul as 60's film soundtracks filter in and out of his music, then there’s one-man band multi-instrumentalist Chris Wade who, under his Dodson & Fogg project, shows no signs of letting-up with his unique blend of psych/prog and folk and finally we have Icarus Peel, the West-country’s very own Syd Barrett who is the brains behind the Honey Pot and Crystal Jacqueline. The last we heard from Peel was The Honey Pot’s ‘Inside the Whale’ album, which explored Peel’s darker musical side although the single release at the time, ‘Lisa Dreams’, was a perfect slice of English summer pysch which is still spinning round in my head months after the first hearing. Over his previous solo albums Peel has shown that he’s no one trick pony, ‘Sunflower Army’ had a more rockier vibe while ‘Tea At My Gaffe’ was as English as the title would suggest. For his latest album on the wonderful Mega Dodo label Peel has taken the concept route, another nod to his 60's influences, and created an album centered around an undertaker and a bunch of villains. And it’s wonderful… The album owes less to ‘Tommy’ or ‘S.F. Sorrow’ and more to the work that Mark Wirtz did for his ‘Teenage Opera’ project. Try to imagine Syd Barrett or even Kevin Ayers having a hand in Wirtz’s ‘Teenage Opera’ and delving deeper into characters like Sam, Auntie Mary and Grocer Jack and you’re part of the way there at least. Add a few embellishments from Dave Mason period Traffic and it becomes even clearer. It’s also very English evoking a period and place in time that some even doubt existed at all (it did); it’s certainly recalls a place that we will never see again; a England that is long since gone. Peel has been no stranger to showing his love of 1960's English psychedelia before but this time it’s more apparent than ever before. While it’s very English it’s far from the toy-town pysch that so many bands of that era embraced. There’s humour in Peel’s writing, which was usually missing from concept albums of that period, for the most part ‘concept’ meant that the band in question was trying to make a more serious statement but there are more than a few times during ‘Forget Me Not Under Pussy Willow’ when the smiles break out. The fourteen-track CD album (just one of the formats available, more about that at the end of this piece), and, yes, that includes the minute-long spoken introduction because it forms an essential part of the album, much like Stanley Unwin’s contributions to ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ (another classic album that ‘Forget Me Not…’ owes a passing debt to) doesn’t have to be listened to in one sitting to be fully appreciated. Apart from that short introduction and the penultimate song, ‘Here’s The News’, which is another short, spoken word piece, every song here would have been pulled off as a single back in the day so radio-friendly and hook-laden they are. It’s pointless highlighting just a few tracks as each one is a killer, but ‘Something I Should Say’ is a dreamy summer Sunday afternoon psych soundscape, the female vocals complimenting Peel’s and the lysergic musical backing beautifully. ‘It’s Raining’ is the sound that Marriott and Lane would have created had the Move’s Roy Wood joined the Small Faces. ‘Catch Your Breath’ is a gentle acoustic ballad that Stevie Winwood would surely have found a place for on ‘Mr. Fantasy’. The following ‘Melody May’ follows in a similar vein; it’s absolutely stunning, before the next couple of songs find Peel back in Barrett/early Floyd territory. It does require listening to in one session to gain the benefit of the whole story that is just as captivating as those concept albums we’ve loved in the past but the fact that the album is really made up of at least a dozen cracking 1960's inspired singles means you can also dip into it at any time if time is tight just to hear your current favourite without any loss of enjoyment. And, no, I don’t give a flying one if this reads like a gushing schoolboy hearing the greatest album of all time for the first time. The fact is that Icarus Peel, who already has a remarkable body of work, has created one of the top three concept albums of all time. Any music lover who has even a passing interest in English 1960's psych needs this album. You’ll not only hear elements of your favourite bands in here but you’ll also hear a contemporary artist at the top of his game. At the time of writing the Mega Dodo site at http://www.mega-dodo.co.uk lists the following as being available; Limited Edition (200 copies) 180 gram black vinyl with lyric sheet, the first 50 signed by Icarus Peel, a beautiful Limited Edition handmade wooden box (100 copies) containing remastered CD versions of ‘Tea At My Gaffe’, Sunflower Army’ and ‘Sing!’ along with ‘Forget Me Not’ so you get the entire Icarus Peel solo recordings in one neat box or the vinyl LP of ‘Forget Me Not’ along with the 10” Barnburner EP signed from which the bonus track on the CD version of ‘Forget Me Not’, namely ‘Auntie Powders Her Nose’, one of the more Barrett flavoured tracks, is lifted from as a bonus. Whichever version you choose it will be worth every penny.



Track Listing:-



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