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That time Neil from ‘The Young Ones’ released his ‘Heavy Concept Album’

Hippies make the best capitalists. They are the passive-aggressive masters who use their artificial sense of moral superiority to sell you shit you don’t need. You know the kind of shit. Shit, they claim that will save the planet, or feed your soul, or flow in tune with your karmic wholewheat astrological aura, kinda thing.

In a survey I’ve just made up at random, 99.9% of all hippies are capitalist bastards. Take The Young Ones for example. Here was a household consisting of four students from four very different backgrounds. There was a punk called Vyvyan, a radical-leftie-progressive-socialist-Cliff Richard-fan called Rik, a mature student-cum-yuppie-businessman called Mike, and a hippie named Neil. There was also rumored to be a fifth roommate, but we don’t talk about him. Now, you might think out of this small group that the punk or the mature student would go on to make the most money and have say, a pop career that sold literally dozens of records across the world and lasted for days if not weeks. But you’d be wrong. It was, in fact, Neil the hippie who saw the potential in marketing his miserable lentil-stained life and selling it on to an unsuspecting public.

And very, very successful he was at this, too.

It all started, you see, when Neil the hippie (aka the divinely talented actor Nigel Planer) recorded what some might describe as a kind of “novelty record” called “Hole in My Shoe” in 1984. Planer had astutely chosen to cover a song, which in many respects, captured aspects of Neil’s miserabilist, psychedelic personality. The song had originally been a hit for the rock band Traffic in 1967.

Planer used a little help from his friends to record his single. He collaborated with Dave Stewart, a prog rock keyboardist with bands like Uriel, Egg, and National Health, and singer Barbra Gaskin. Stewart, not to be confused with the other Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, had scored a UK #1 with Gaskin on their cover of “It’s My Party” in 1981. Neil/Nigel’s “Hole in My Shoe” reached #2 on the UK charts. Its success led Planer, Stewart and Gaskin to go one further and record Neil’s Heavy Concept Album.

Neil sings ‘Hole in My Shoe’: Today the 45rpm record, tomorrow the 33⅓.
Neil’s Heavy Concept Album was the most splendid spoof LP since, well, The Rutles in 1978.

This was a concept album that paid homage to the, er, “concept” of a concept album, but didn’t actually have any real concept other than the unifying character of Neil who riffed on a variety of surreal adventures (a trip down a plughole, a meeting with a potato, a movie advert, and reading a poem to his plant) and singing a few classic, beautifully-rendered songs.

The whole album brilliantly parodied the musical form of those trippy conceptual albums released by progressive and psychedelic bands during the sixties and seventies. From the early musings and backward guitars of the Beatles, through Gong (Pip Pyle plays drums on the record), King Crimson, Pink Floyd, the Incredible String Band and a hint of Frank Zappa. The front cover mimicked that of the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request album, while the back, in red with liner notes and four images of Neil, copied the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but instead of a guaranteeing a splendid time for all, Neil offered that:

A heavy time is guaranteed for all.

More heavy concepts, after the jump, man…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
01:26 pm
Fuse: Rick Nielsen’s awesome pre-Cheap Trick psychedelic rock band
10:50 am

An early shot of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.
Long before he helped Cheap Trick take over the world by way of Budokan, guitarist Rick Nielsen recorded a record with another Rockford, Illinois band called Fuse. Originally going by the name The Grim Reapers, Nielson was instrumental in convincing another Rockford band Toast and Jam to join forces and Fuse were born from that rock and roll union sometime in 1968.

According to Nielson, he had already secured a record contract at the time Fuse was coming together and they recorded a couple of singles on Smack Records in 1969, “Hound Dog” and “Cruisin for Burgers.” Fuse drummer Chip Greenman recalls that their manager at the time, Ken Adamany, had been pitching the band to different labels hoping to land them a record deal. Later that year—and again according to Greenman—Fuse scored the opening slot for a Fleetwood Mac gig in Chicago. Luckily Mort Hoffman, who was doing A&R for Epic Records was in the audience and told the band that he had to sign them. As all of the members of Fuse had yet to turn 21, their first record contract was signed by their fathers in July of 1969. Awww. Here’s more from Nielson on the early days of Fuse—whose name came about at the insistence of Epic as a requirement in order to finalize their record deal:

The guys we were with were all superior musicians—they’re probably in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now. Tom and I had the stick-to-it-iveness and positive thinking to know what we wanted to do, so we split the band and went off to hang out in England. That Fuse stuff was my finest work. We stand by it and wished Cheap Trick played that well!

Fuse would record their only self-titled album in 1970 and it is full of loud, raucous psychedelically tinged rock with Nielson’s ever present guitar squalls raining down throughout its eight tracks. With influences from The Yardbirds and Cream, there isn’t a single jam on the record that isn’t rock solid.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
10:50 am