…prepare to enter the strange world of the privately pressed vinyl LP….
Back at the tail end of the ’60s and early ’70s, small regional bands that wanted a crack at the ‘big-time’ would record, produce and very often create their own homemade artwork for a promotional LP. These releases were pressed in quantities of just 99 copies (or less), any more might result in a potentially hefty bill from the taxman. In the case of legendary UK psych/prog collectable ‘Around the Edges’ by Dark, just a handful of copies are rumoured to exist. Once made, these records would then be eagerly pressed into the hands of industry bods, sent for review or simply used to drum up gigging opportunities – some were most likely left under the bed!
Fast forward 40 years and these long forgotten records have occasionally resurfaced, much to the delight of the hardened record collector. Beware, not all privately pressed LPs are of the uber-collectable, hen’s teeth variety, many were issued by chicken-in-a-basket type working men’s bands, country & western acts, and some good ‘ol all-round entertainers got in on the act too (not that there’s anything wrong with that mind).
However, it’s the albums recorded by bands that were trying to emulate their psychedelic, progressive and folky heroes which are the most sought after, – the record by Complex below, described by acid/psychedelic bible ‘Acid Archives’ as ‘one of the holy trinity of rare British psychedelia’ …..is one of the rarest…..
Complex were formed in Blackpool & consisted of lead guitarist Brian Lee, rhythm guitarist Tony Fisher, bassist Lance Fogg & lead vocalist and drummer Tony Shakespeare. The album was hastily recorded under primitive circumstances at “107 Studio” in St. Annes & cut for record at Craighall Studios in Scotland. EMI offered the band an audition but a recording deal never bore fruit. This album was recorded ostensibly for demo purposes. Just ninety-nine copies were pressed due to the imposition of purchase tax on quantities greater than 99. This record is essentially a promotional only item for bringing the band to the attention of major record companies for the purpose of obtaining a recording contract.
Musically the album is notable for its homemade, organ driven, US Garage type sound. “Witch’s Spell” for instance has a very fuzzed-up, psychedelic appeal with guitars upfront. “Self Declaration” opens the second side with lengthy, almost Iron Butterfly-like excursions, with the whole album ultimately staying within the confines of its small-town, teenage dreams, headset. This one is sure to please collectors of true underground British psychedelia of the late sixties, early seventies.
The sleeve is a primitive wraparound design & held together by tape along the “spine”, with tape residue along the top & bottom edges where it was once sealed, but ultimately couldn’t house the record due to the weight of the LP!Other than a couple of tiny thumbnail splits at the far reaching edges, the panels are clean & vivid with all text clearly legible & no other blemishes. Lance Fogg’s signature is clearly visible in blue against the white surround on the back & he has also penned a small ‘L’ on the side one label, all of which confirms this was one of his original personal copies.
The record sounds as good as it could possibly be given the low grade vinyl. Both sides are clean & playback reveals merely the lightest bit of natural surface during the quieter sections. There are a few very faint cosmetic scuffs which can not be felt & do not affect play. There are no heavier marks or scratches & the vinyl is Excellent. Very much a dream find for the right collector!