The late British DJ/Tastemaker John Peel once claimed this was the best 45 of all time, and who am I to disagree with him. Besides Peel knew first hand, as he more or less discovered the group in Riverside, California while he was spinning discs in the USA. Peel brought the group back to England with him with the intent of making them England’s new sensation. Of course that would never happen due to a number of factors one of the biggest ones being the US draft board was after the boys for trying to dodge the draft. Yet luckily the group did make it into the studio and cut 2 singles and a handful of others tracks that wouldn’t see the light of day until 1982 on Cherry Red’s essential “Before The Dream Faded” collection.
My friend in Hartford, Connecticut tipped me to that album when it was first issued and it just reduced me to ashes when I first heard it. Being a Yardbirds fan growing up I was just astounded by The Misunderstood, as to me ears they actually kicked the Yardbirds sound up a notch or two. At the time I was just discovering The Creation, Birds, Factory, Eyes, Attack (and a host of other incredible, super obscure UK psychedelic/beat groups, later termed freakbeat by Phil Smee of Bam Caruso Records I believe.) So hearing The Misunderstood was just more gasoline on that already well stoked fire.
As luck would have it I found a UK dealer who had both Misunderstood 45’s for sale, and I wound up trading him some USA Bowie/T-Rex promos (which didn’t mean shit to me) for the singles. “I Can Take You To The Sun” is an awe inspiring disc that manages to cram a whole album’s worth of ideas into 4 minutes, kinda like fellow UK psych. legends Wimple Winch’s “Atmospheres” and The Factory’s “Path Through The Forest.”
The song begins sort of on the gentle side, with it’s subject matter being the then fashionable outer reaches of the human mind. Well this record actually gets you there without the use of drugs (a friend of mine once said psychedelic music is better than psychedelic drugs anyway, I do agree on that point.) “I Can Take You To The Sun” actually builds up momentum as it goes aided by the shrieking electric pedal steel guitar runs of lead guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell (later of Juicy Lucy.) It’s incredible to hear the sounds Campbell delivered with this country and western instrument. I wonder if Campbell’s playing would influence The Move’s Roy Wood’s later excursions with a similar instrument? Anyway after the song actually takes you to the sun, it disappears in a gentle acoustic flash similar to Bert Jansch. Whew!!!
The flipside is a break-neck verson of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” which is actually in the same territory as Quicksilver Messenger Service’s version but even better, and a full 2 years earlier. Luckily all the recordings by The Misunderstood have been re-released in one form or another. The group would carry on a few years more but with a radically different lineup. Most purists hate their later stuff, buy I enjoy some it, especially “Golden Glass.” Here’s to one of the truly original groups of the classic “psychedelic era” who were going places even Jimi Hendrix could only envision in 1966. …..by Dave Furgess,…………..