What a band. Everybody loved the Fairies and on their night they were the best band in the world; on their off days – well, the less said the better.
They played every free festival there was, always turning up for them, but sometimes forgetting to turn up to the ones that they were supposed to be paid for. They toured with the equally infamous Hawkwind, ending every concert with a set of “Pinkwind”, where everybody got up on stage for a jam that would either be marvelous or, depending on the state of the respective band members, a complete shambles.
The Pink Fairies were well known for their excessive Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle; ultra cool looks (denim, leather, very long frizzy hair, cowboy boots and eternal shades), couldn’t care less attitude, and excellent musicianship. Unfortunately the latter quality was generally ignored by the press, but mind you, the band didn’t exactly help themselves with their barely concealed contempt for the press or the music business hierarchy in general.
This dog’s favorite Fairies’ story is that of turning up at Maidstone Civic Hall in southern England to witness the band in motion. After a very under-rehearsed Fairies had blown the roof off with a ramshackle 40 minutes set including encore (“City Kids”, “Lucille”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Well, Well, Well”, “The Snake” and a 10 minute “Uncle Harry’s Freak Out”), we were greeted by a very annoyed looking Larry Wallis announcing from stage that the management had told them they were booked for 90 minutes and if they didn’t play 90 minutes they wouldn’t get paid. The band then came back on stage, played exactly the same set again, only with “Uncle Harry’s Freak Out” including an extra 10 minutes drum solo. So the band got paid, management were happy, and the audience all got to see the Fairies twice.
This album under review, “The Kings Of Oblivion”, was the Pink Fairies third official release, after “Never Never Land” in 1971 and “What A Bunch Of Sweeties” in 1972. But to say the lineup had been consistent was like saying that the English cricket batting lineup was reliable. Already come and gone through the revolving Fairy door had been ex-Pretty Things drummer Twink (off to play in The Stars with fellow spacemen Jack Monk and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barret), ex T.Rex man Steve Peregrine Took, Trevor Burton of Move Fame, Mick Farren and Larry Wallis (who both came back), Paul Rudolph (lured away by promises of fame and fortune by Hawkwind… another fine mess) and Mick Wayne, who, although only in the band for 6 to 7 gigs, wrote their surprise hit single “Well, Well, Well”.
When Mick Wayne was kicked out of the band, this left the way open for the glorious return of Larry ‘Lazza’ Wallis, who’d been showing off his wares with Blodwyn Pig and U.F.O. (Wallis’ parting shot to U.F.O. after being fired for not turning up to rehearsals had been, “You may rehearse, I create”). Joining the nucleus of Duncan Sandersand on bass and ‘Wildman of Rock’ Russel Hunter on drums, the Fairies then enjoyed a period of stability (18 months) during which they recorded this remarkable guitar driven album.
There is no doubt that this is Wallis’ album, having a hand in writing all the songs, singing, playing guitar, plus production and engineering credits.
The album opens with the classic “City Kids”, which Wallis was to take with him when he formed Motorhead with Lemmy after the latter was kicked out of Hawkwind (it all gets very incestuous, doesn’t it). Here, the song is in its original version, all crunchy guitars, rock solid bass and drums with a catchy chorus, which you’ll find yourself singing along to second time around.
All the songs here are 24-carat solid gold easy action and it is one of Rock music’s great injustices that this album is not regarded as one of its all time classics. Out of all the Fairies albums this is possibly their best, certainly their most refined studio effort (but should be played at 11 for maximum effect).
Over the years there have been many Pink Fairies reformations and comebacks, at one time there were four different versions of the band on tour, plus up to eighteen albums released under the Fairies banner. But take my word for it, anything with Larry Wallis on it is sheer class. As for “The Kings Of Oblivion”, who can resist a cover with three flying pink pigs on it, all wearing shades?
Rating: 5 Stars
I Wish I Was A Girl
When’s The Fun Begin?
Larry Wallis – lead guitar, big guitar, lead vocals
Duncan Sanderson – bass guitar, lead vocals
Russell Hunter – drums