John's Children - A Strange Affair: The Sixties Recordings

Part of the then emerging London mod scene, 60s act John's Children counted a young Marc Bolan temporarily among their number, which - partly - explains their ongoing cult status, although the Bolan connection has often overshadowed the fact that they produced solid trippy mod-psych of their own. With a history of unreleased and rare material, their catalogue has always been collectible (the withdrawn 'Midsummer Night's Scene' sells for around £4000) but is now handily gathered together on this 2-CD set from Grapefruit, alongside some solo recordings and alternate mixes.

Their initial contract with Columbia produced two decent singles in 'The Love I Thought I'd Found' and 'Just What You Want ...' even if they were heavily reliant on session musicians (b-side 'But She's Mine' brazely lifts the main 'I Can't Explain' riff from The Who and has Jeff Beck deliver a piercing solo). A switch to Track Records brought Bolan onside - numbers like 'Sara, Crazy Child' and 'Desdemona' immediately show his stamp - and a growing confidence saw them thrown off a German tour with The Who, their boisterous and anarchic stage show presumed to be a threat to the headliners. A fake live album, Orgasm (overdubbed with audience noise from The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night soundtrack) didn't surface until 1970, by which time the band had already been defunct for two years. Vocalist Andy Ellison had a brief solo career including a couple of interesting Beatles covers and a version of Bolan's 'Hippy Gumbo' before re-emerging with Radio Stars who were signed to 70s indie Chiswick Records. With the John's Children mastertapes long-since disappeared, Grapefruit have done an excellent service in rounding up such an authoritative - and decent sounding - collection for one of the period's most intriguing outfits.

Overall

7

out of 10

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