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2 Aug 2017

The Mirage ‎“Tomorrow Never Knows - Singles And Lost Sessions 1966-1968” Bam-Caruso Records ‎2006 Compilation UK Beat,Psych Pop Rock

The Mirage ‎ “Tomorrow Never Knows - Singles And Lost Sessions 1966-1968”   Bam-Caruso Records ‎2006 Compilation UK Beat,Psych Pop Rock

Another unsung band of the sixties UK pop sike scene . The package contains their singles leased to Philips for release in the late 60's, plus the unissued sessions, and also including 11 previously unknown about tracks. These recently surfaced in a band member’s archives. 

The Mirage have an upbeat, harmony-laden approach akin to 1966 era Beatles and the Hollies. Many songs, mostly self-penned, were storytelling, observational songs ,the most famous of these being their 1967 single, ‘The Wedding of Ramona Blair’, about a bride whose groom fails to show up at the ceremony, which has appeared on several compilations of British Psychedelia. 

The Mirage signed to Dick James Publishing and served as the house band for a penny or two, including sessions backing Elton John during his embryonic song writing days. Indeed later on, following the bands break up in 1968, Mirage guitarist Dee Murray then joined Elton John’s own band for his run of classic early 70's albums and tours. 

Another connection The Mirage had was through writer / producer Kirk Duncan, who in turn had a deal with the Hollies’ own Gralto Music Publishing company. So a propensity for some material to sound akin to the Hollies is not quite so surprising. It even culminates in a song demo from Ray's collection with Graham Nash singing lead for a (previously unheard) Mirage session recording. 

This is the definitive collection of the classic pop sike period of The Mirage and the glorious packaging is enhanced by material from the band members archives..

As already proven quite a few times, being at the right place at the right time, doesn’t always mean instant success, or for that matter, any kind of success at all. 

As if they had foreseen it themselves, for this bunch of Hertfordshire based lads, it remained a “mirage” for as long as they kept the name. For example, for bassist Dee Murray, it took to join Elton John’s backing band in the ‘70s, while some of them at least felt a taste of it, during their short time within Spencer Davis Group’s final line up. 

Even though about half of the content has already been available through the not exactly legal, to say the least, CD release titled You Can’t Be Serious, this one’s more than worthy enough, comprising first ever remasters of their three Phillips singles, and no less than 17 (!) previously (officially) unreleased recordings (11 of which weren’t included on the boot either). 

On the other hand, unlike this one, You Can’t Be Serious includes the second (Clarke-Nash produced) of the first two 1965 CBS singles, pairing up an unreleased Hollies tune, Go Away, (here present in it’s acoustic demo, featuring Graham Nash) with a similar harmony fueled beat number called Just A Face, as well as 4 more unreleased recordings, 5 live-on-BBC’67 ones, as well as the post-Mirage Portobello Explosion single from 1969, so considering all of the above, however happy I am with this new (and sound-wise way superior) one, I’m keeping the boot as well! 

Anyway, for all of you without any of these, Tomorrow Never Knows should be a natural starting point, and of course a MUST for any harmony fueled mod stomp fan! As far as the singles go, their only claim to (not really) fame, was their pretty competent cover of Tomorrow Never Knows, with the band, thanks to their Dick James Music Publishing association, getting hold of Revolver before it was actually released, backed by a much superior blue-eyed soul mod stomp of You Can’t Be Serious, finding them halfway between The Action and The Creation. 

They retained the laters vibe for Hold On, the follow up single’s A-side, which was a pretty cool mod-ish Taxman rip off, with The Hollies stepping in for the chorus, coupled with a kinda Rubber Soul-ful ballad Can You Hear Me, followed by The Wedding Of Ramona Blair, which might’ve been described as a groovy little “pocket symphony” that wouldn’t sound out of place on Billy Nicholls’ Would You Believe album, while it’s flip, Lazy Man, takes it back to the mod-ernistic pop approach, by way of the early Who, with the unreleased pair of Gone To Your Head and I Want Love, sharing the exact same formula. 

Of the other unreleased stuff, One More Time and That I Know clearly display the presence of The Hollies on the band’s earliest sessions, while it’s the later ones from ‘67/’68, that find them swing along with the times, throwing in some quirky popsike vibes, along with “fresh” phasing effects in the Lennon-ish whimsy Ebaneezer Beaver, or backward drum loops in Mrs Busby, while I See The Rain and See My World find them in a more dreamy, slightlydelic vibe. 

That The Mirage were capable enough of churning out tunes just as commercial as any of their more successful contemporaries, can be heard in either Lonely Highway, Hello Enid or Is Anybody Home, all sounding kinda like Tonny Hazzard-through-Bee Gees, as well as the acoustic demo of Katherine, being another piece of pure Hollie-pop, and the Kinky-Vaudeville sounding How’s Your Pa, with just an occasional nod back, towards the earlier mod-ish aesthetics of What Do I Care, with an extremely groovy acoustic arrangement. 

So, considering all the heavy weight references, such as Dick James, The Hollies or Larry Page (releasing two post-Philips singles), record contracts with CBS and Philips, as well as sessions backing Caleb Quaye and early Elton John, it just “can’t be serious” for a band like The Mirage to remain just a “mirage” in pop history isn’t it?! RPM 2006.

I find it sad that there are so many great bands from the 1960s who have now faded into obscurity. The Mirage are just one example. Tomorrow Never Knows - The Pop Sike World of the Mirage: Singles & Lost Sessions contains a selection of their singles, acoustic demos and previously unreleased tracks.

The problem with The Mirage is that they don't have a very original sound. Songs like "You Can't Be Serious", "Gone To Your Head" and "I Want Love" sound like typical mid-60s pop songs and are reminiscent of The Hollies. The album even includes a demo of a song called "Go Away" with Graham Nash of The Hollies on lead vocals. "Hold On" sounds very similar to the Beatles' "Taxman" and the piano-based "How's Your Pa" is also very Beatlesque. "Tomorrow Never Knows", a cover of the Beatles song from Revolver, is a good interpretation but done in a much more conventional style than the original psychedelic version.

Their best known song by far is "The Wedding of Ramona Blair", which was released as a single in 1967. It tells the story of a bride whose groom didn't arrive at the wedding and has an irresistibly catchy tune that will get stuck in your head for days. "Hello Enid" and "Ebaneezer Beaver" are equally memorable.  I also love "Can You Hear Me", a gorgeous and gentle ballad, and the haunting "I See The Rain". Other strong tracks include "Mrs Busby", "Is Anybody Home", "What Do I Care" and "Katherine". ..........

The Mirage existed right smack in the middle of the British pop-psych explosion. Plodding along with a series of pretty good singles, the group never released a proper album, although this disc does a great job of collecting most of their recorded material. Sound-wise, these guys seem to perfect fit the bill of a 'typical' pop-psych band. They rock pretty well when then need to, keep away from the more embarrassing, cloying side of period psychedelia, but rarely stand out. This music slides right down the middle path.

The disc is named after their cover of the Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows." It's a straightforward garage rocking version and would be pretty spectacular if we didn't have the Beatles far superior version to compare it to. Really, most of the compositions here resemble 1965 beat songs with some crunchy guitars and echoing production thrown in. Tracks like "Gone to Your Hear" and "I Want Love" fare pretty well with this method. "Hold On" rips off the "Taxman" bassline for the 6087th time to somewhat mediocre effect. "One More Time" has a truly bizzare mix with an volume-controlled guitar place far above everything else. You will need to give some special attention to the band's signature single, "The Wedding Of Ramona Blair."

Later tracks like "Lonely Highway" and "Hello Enid" add it some Sgt. Pepper orchestration in a reasonably tasteful way. I guess the caveat with the Mirage is that they are always competent but never really surprise the listener. It's definitely something that the psych-pop connoisseur will want to hear, but not the disc you'd want to turn to when trying to convert someone into a fan of 60's psychedelia.

Let me throw in a note about sound quality. Everything here is very listenable, and well-produced, but most of the song do sport a frustrating coating of sonic crust. I don't know if this is due to the engineering at the original sessions or a factor of age, but you'll have to slightly adjust your ears for this one...

1 Tomorrow Never Knows
2 You Can't Be Serious
3 Go To Your Head
4 Spare A Thought For Me
5 Hold On
6 Can You Hear Me
7 One More Time
8 That I Know
9 The Wedding Of Ramona Blair
10 Lazy Man
11 Ebaneezer Beaver
12 Mrs Busby
13 I See The Rain
14 Lonely Highway
15 Hello Enid
16 Is Anybody Home
17 What Do I Care
18 How's Your Pa
19 Lazy Man (Version 2)
20 See My World
21 Katherine
22 Ebaneezer Beaver
23 Go Away (W/Graham Nash)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







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