Classic Mod Psyche with the Koobas

In the sixties, you were bloody lucky if you were in a group from
Liverpool. Your accent alone could probably open doors that were closed to
others, thanks largely to The Beatles. One of the bands hamming up the scousity
were the Koobas, who wisely uprooted themselves from Toxteth (or wherever) to
find a fortune in the big smoke of London. After a stint in Germany at the much
celebrated Star Club in Hamburg (where else!), and dishing out the usual Chuck
Berry covers, Brian Epstein saw enough in the boys to send them on tour with
the Fab Four on their last ever UK tour. The success of this also led to a tour
of Switzerland with Jimi Hendrix, and a golden future was predicted by all.

Naturally, these scouse beat heads started to grow their hair
out, and don the hippie threads. Psychedelia was afoot, and they wanted in.
From ‘yeah yeah yeah’s’ to overdriven fuzz guitars and glassy eyed drug lyrics.
So, to the only long player made by the Koobas. The eponymous work was the last
thing they did before band member Keith Ellis buggered off to join Van Der Graf
Generator. And what a work out it was.

The LP kicks off with a strong cut called ‘Royston Rose’,
which, compared some a great number of psyche tracks from back when, sounds
light years ahead in terms of production and value. The fuzzy guitar is pared
with a crunchy backbeat, and a superbly cocky vocal. This is not some la-la
psyche. This is tough as nails psyche with two fingers firmly flicked in the
direction of dissenters. This opener is no fluke as the LP charges on with ace
art rock stylings of The Who or The Creation, and the wry eyed spots of Ray
Davies. ‘Here’s a Day’ sees the Koobas in full flow again, with sneers (“I just
dropped by to tell you I’m alive”) that ape Syd Barrett somehow, with wonderful
beat/psyche bubbling beneath, and the wonkiest keys you’ve ever heard.

The LP strongly suggests that this was a band who were more
than aware that this may well be their only chance to record a long player,
which means that all of their energies were flung into it. It certainly shows.
This is an LP with an abundance of excellent ideas, more than a fistful of top
dollar choruses, and real care into making each song unique. ‘Gold Leaf Tree’
is without doubt one of the finest psyche tunes ever released, and highlights
the very fact that, during the sixties, there were bands that inexplicable
didn’t conquer the world. The Koobas are prime examples. Touring with The
Beatles, touring with Jimi, recording your debut in Abbey Road, writing an incredible
body of work… and left on the scrap. Find the reissue on BGO records, and
scratch your head over the bizarre failure of the world against the Koobas.



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