Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Second Hand - 1968 - Reality

Second Hand 

01. A Fairy Tale
02. Rhubarb!
03. Denis James the Clown
04. Steam Tugs
05. Good Old '59 (We Are Slowly Gettin' Older)
06. The World Will End Yesterday
07. Denis James (Ode to D.J.)
08. Mainliner Reality
09. The Bath Song

CD Bonus Tracks:
10. The Bath Song
11. A Fairy Tale (Alternative Mix)
12. Steam Tugs (Alternative Mix)
13. James In The Basement
14. I Am Nearly There

- Ken Elliott / keyboards, vocals
- Kieran O'Connor / drums & percussion
- Nick South / bass
- Bobby Gibbons / guitar

Guest musician:
- Chris Williams / flute, cello, violin & saxophone

Is there an exact limit between Psychedelia and Prog Rock?

After listening "SECOND HAND", the only answer possible is no and that's the main reason why Proto Prog was created as a link between the two genres. Outside Prog Rock's petite universe it would be easier to describe what these guys were doing and that's why you will find them in almost every Psychedelia site or catalogue something that is not wrong but neither truth, "SECOND HAND" is somewhere in the grey area between both genres. The story of this British band starts around 1965 when the keyboardist Ken Elliot formed a band named THE NEXT COLLECTION but in 1968 they signed with Polydor Records and the label suggested them to change their name that could lead to a confusion (maybe mistaken with any compilation) so they chose MOVING FINGERS but this name was already taken, so as joke in reference to their used instruments they went with SECOND HAND.

The band was formed by the already-mentioned Ken Elliot playing keys and singing, Kieran O'Connor on drums, Bobby Gibbons on lead guitar, Nick South playing bass and they invited Chris Williams to add flute, cello, violin and saxophone in their debut album "Reality". This first release is clearly more oriented towards late Psychedelia but very advanced for the genre, anybody can feel the characteristic early-Prog sound, hidden somewhere. Despite being an excellent album, it never reached a great popularity in the charts, and stayed an undeservedly obscure and underrated gem from the late 60's.

They had to wait almost three years to release another album, but this was too much for Bobby Gibbons and Nick South who left the band, being replaced by George Hart (bass, violin and backing vocals), Moggy Mead on guitar and they recruited Ken's brother Rob as a new lead vocalist and a frontman, seeing that Ken was too busy working with his new mellotron and organ. With this line-up they left Polydor Records and joined the new Mushroom Records label with whom they release their second album "Death May Be Your Santa Claus". Now, this album is really weird as it is described not as Psych, Prog, Rock but all of them at the same time. Dark, obscure, excellent arrangements, with a clear influence of Arthur Brown, it's definitely a tremendous advance in SECOND HAND'S career but at the same time was the beginning of the end.

After some members quit, the band changed their name to CHILLUM (who knows why?) and released an eponymous album, which is also included in the discography of SECOND HAND but they eventually split after its release. Ken Elliot and Kieran O'Connor joined later to form a new band named "SEVENTH WAVE" with less success.

The debut album from Second Hand which was released in 1968 and called Reality is a pretty psychadelic experience. The music is heavily influenced by rock/ blues bands like Jimi Hendrix and Cream but in addition to that sound Ken Elliott´s vintage keyboards are a trademark in Second Hand´s sound. His voice is very strong and humourous. This music seems to be made while having lots of fun and probably under the influence of various drugs.

Most songs are fairly ordinary rock songs with a psychadelic touch while Mainliner Reality is a 15 minute long song with lots of string arrangements. The most progressive track on Reality for sure.

The musicianship is allright but a bit sloppy. The production is muddy and far from clean but I guess that´s the way the band thought it should be ( or maybe they just didn´t have enough money to buy themselves a better sound).

If your introduction to Second Hand was their second and most known album Death May Be Your Santa Claus this album probably won´t blow you away. But on the other hand if you liked Death May Be Your Santa Claus this is a a nice way to see how they started out. I´ll rate Reality 3 small stars. It´s a good psychadelic rock album with vintage keyboards and a great singer, but not much more than that. I´ll recommend that you start with Death May Be Your Santa Claus if you´re curious about Second Hand.

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