Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We Are All Together: Medicine Head: "One and One is One"

It may come as a surprise, dear readers, that anything that isn't either Glam or Teen Idol material can show up here - in competitive, who-can-wear-the-most-outrageous-outfit-on-TOTP-this-week 1973, and yet here we are with...hippies. 

Just because the 60s ended technically didn't mean hippies disappeared; at this point, in fact, they are slowly but surely the cause of all sorts of things to come, things that don't really exist at this point but eventually will (everything from organic food to recycling to flotation tanks and crystal healing; some of these will prove more popular than others).  Hippies, as I understand/imagine it, may well have given up buying singles altogether in favor of albums; but this got in the chart, an anomaly to say the least, and an NME #2, as well.   

For those of you who might think that maybe this song is proof hippies can't do math, well, man, it's all about how love puts two together so they are one, dig? (Hippie declarations of love are of course the lower octave, as they'd say at the Omega Centre, of the higher octave of universal love, man*.)  Far from being a pompous blowhard-type declaration, this is as easygoing as a Sunday and may well be the first appearance of a jew's harp on MSBWT, if I'm not mistaken.  Medicine Head were a blues band, mostly, but this is pure pop, the lyrics all love-eagerness (more phone talk, "little darling") - if anything this is what a more lively Dire Straits would sound like, had they existed yet.  (The guitar here sounds a bit like the guitar on "So Far Away" and there are little organ blips and bleeps too, less frenetic than those on "Industrial Disease.")  The vocals are laid back, so much so they're almost spoken word, and it is a shame that the band (signed in the 60s to John Peel's Dandelion label) didn't get to build on this success; perhaps they were too offhand and hippie to compete in the Glam Rock/Big Important Album dichotomy of the time, and end up, effectively, as the kind of band only people (pardon me, "heads") from back in the day remember at all.  This song is thus part of The Void - I have yet to hear it on UK radio - drowned out by its noisy neighbors in the chart, from Suzi Quatro to 10cc, Wizzard to Wings.  There were other laid-back songs on the chart, of course, but none as lo-fi as this. 

Next up:  Did someone say hippie?   

*I'm not sure if the term "New Age" was being used in '73, but the Omega Centre is a New Age place in Toronto, in case you're wondering - in Yorkville, where people would go in the late 60s to make fun of hippies.  Things have changed...


Mark G said...

Medicine Head had a few pop moments and hits onwards from here, but because they were hippies, this probably didn't matter too much to them, thanks to alternative lifestyles and living, and so forth.

And if that seems a bit 'pat' and generalised, it is..

However, it's mainly because when the punks broke out, they all shouted that they hated the hippies, then discovered that they had to be real nice to them as they owned all the amps, rehearsal studios, venues, and a fair few record labels that were prepared to listen...

Bob Stanley said...

I've never really got this song. I don't remember it, even though I could sing every lyric from songs lower down the chart. Odder yet, the follow up - Rising Sun, a #11 - is a stone cold classic in my books. Emotional, danceable, sampleable, everything 1+1=1 isn't. This one baffles me.