Mr Cocking's Descent - Green Circles (Off The Hip)

cockingtonIt's easy to rave about things being unjust and how universally lauded a band would be if the world was different. Green Circles not only struggle with the fact they're domiciled in Adelaide, a remote and near geographically featureless Australian city that makes Sydney look like a happening musical town, they're existing 40 years too late.

Translate Green Circles to 1967 and you're just about there. If they had geo-tagging back then, they'd be sharing an N10 postcode with The Kinks in Muswell Hill, Swinging London, and hanging out at St James nightclubs with Jimi, Eric and the Pretty Things. Named after the career path of the world's first unsuccessful parachutist, "Mr Cocking's Descent" is a swirling mix of jangle, muscly pop, keyboard wash and rock-psych that's all embracing that soars, not plummets. Odds are you won't hear it played at your hip flavour-of-the-week nightclub because the DJs would take one look at the cover art and think "Antique Roadshow". Fuck them. Start your own nightclub.

You'd cheerfully put Green Circles in the veteran class. They might only produce an album at times of the century when Mars, Venus and Jupiter are aligned and the long-haired Tibetan timber elk is in heat, but it's worth the wait because they're ensemble players. They listen to each other without getting too complicated. Mark Gilbert holds sway at the mic with a commanding vocal that switches from serious pop contender to doom-tinged psychic warrior with ease. The engine room does its job (admirably well) and Andrew Piper (guitars/ukelele/organ, harp) applies sonic layers on top.

"Descent" is strong all over the park but really comes into its own in the second half. I'm looking at the ultra-catchy catchy "Semaphore Girl" here. "Where's Charlie" gets its pop smarts on in the singalong style of Ray Davies. "Baby You Flirt" is a declamatory pop gem with a rise-and-fall melody line. "Tin Toy" is a surreal psych sway, the sort of track The Soundtrack Of Our Lives used to lay on us with regularity.

"Martin's Wild" is a driving instrumental with organ and stabbing sax placed front-and-centre. "Watermelon Sugar Blues" is the showstopper, a 13-minute trip that holds guitars in check so Piper's keys and Glibert's vocals can weave a beguiling web, before morphing into a "Town and Country" Humble Pie acoustic coda at the death. Wow.

Retro psych pop with depth. Colour me mightily impressed.

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Tags: off-the-hip, green circles, pop, kinks, who

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