Fitting pieces to the jigsaw’
Why did I want to review this book? Let me explain.
72/73 being a late-flowering trainee hippy in a Northern mill town, I was introduced to Dr Strangely Strange (DSS) by a chap I’d met well versed in the ways of music as he was three years older than me.
We listened to their music, well the first album anyway as that’s was all we possessed.
We recited various pieces from the songs and greeting each other with ‘There you go’ (even though we may have wondered where we were supposed to be going).
Forward 36 years and a visit to the maze like Barbican, for the Witchseason season to see Fairport Convention, noticing a poster for the next day’s event I see that DSS will be playing in the foyer and playing with the Incredible String Band (sometime referred to as the Incredible Bing Strand).
As I was staying in that London I thought I’d go and see the band I’d liked all those years ago. Stood in that foyer I travelled back over those years to the person I was then a smile on my face as I realised that quite a few of those lyrics had stayed lodged in a quiet corner of my brain.
Two years later I saw them again at the Jazz Café in Camden at a gig organised by the author of this book.
I told my friend who’d introduced me to DSS all those years ago (still three years older than me), unfortunately he wasn’t that impressed. There you go!
So to the book. ‘Fitting Pieces to the Jigsaw’ a quote from band member Ivan Pawle.
As the author says in his introduction
‘The Strangelies had no hits, virtually no-one covered any of their songs, they only recorded two albums, and they were around on the British music scene for rather less than three years. So what kind of book is this, anyway? It certainly isn’t a traditional music biography; after much deliberation, I decided Ivan’s line about ‘fitting pieces to the jigsaw’ sums up the approach nicely’.
The book is not just a history of DSS but of the Dublin music scene at the time, participants, musicians come and go, sometime returning. ( I suppose the term umbrella organisation would be used now, a meeting place for like-minded people). Gary Moore a teenage friend of the band would later play on their second album ‘Heavy Petting’ and later on their third album ‘The Difficult Third Album’ (he would not accept a fee, saying they could not have afforded anyway – which was true – so it was better he do it for nothing)
A splendid read, there are some excellent stories throughout the book, touring Europe. Touring with a horsebox. Lysergic experiences, mushrooms and a comeuppance for the Edgar Broughton Band (though not by the DSS).
I don’t want to say too much as I recommend reading this yourselves, if you don’t know the story and let’s face it very few do. DSS were hardly a name band, though they have attracted some well known fans. Stephen Fry tweets about the Jazz Café gig.
Illustrated throughout with drawings from the band and photographs at various stages of their ‘career’. Love the phonofiddle.
Adrian Whittaker has done the band proud, letting them speak in their voices remembering events slightly differently from each other. ‘There are no facts only versions’ (of each other) as it says at the book’s beginning. I typed this up having just read the opening again and added the words ‘of each other’. Thus is memory changed.
Read and enjoy.
Due on the 15th of March.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Music bios, psych folk. Tales from the road.
One thing you’ve learned
Things are strangely strange but oddly normal. (well at times)