BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It was 1967, the year of Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd, Cream, Hendrix, the Summer of Love and dozens of other musical tremors that would shake the foundations of modern pop for decades to come. Buried beneath that haze, Britain witnessed the birth of one of its strangest amalgams ever, an outfit founded by singer/journalist Mick Farren and borne from the nascent U.K. underground.
Originally dubbed the Social Deviants, the band quickly abbreviated their handle and landed the backing of one Nigel Samuel, a 21-year-old heir to a huge financial fortune. With his support, the band recorded and released Ptooff!, a bizarre excursion into blues, psychedelia and pure mayhem wholly indicative of those twisted times. Freed from the constraints of major label dictates (they eventually signed with Decca Records), the band indulged their every madcap inclination, emulating the fearless stomp of the Yardbirds, Them and the Pretty Things on “I’m Coming Home,” “Charlie” and “Garbage,” including a Floyd-like acoustic sojourn with “Bun,” and, with “Deviation Street,” a shifting musical collage filled with wacky dialogue, shifting styles and even a borrowed bit of “The Banana Boat Song” (“Daylight come and me wanna get stoned…”).
In retrospect it still sounds strange, but as a quaint curiosity, it provides an intriguing artifact of extreme English eccentricity.
DOWNLOAD: “Deviation Street,” “I’m Coming Home,” “Bun”