Monday, February 12, 2007

SECONDHAND- Death May Be Your Santa Claus,LP ,1971,UK (NWW List!)

First released in the early seventies, this extraordinary work can now be seen at last for what it is - a ground-breaking masterpiece. At times funereal, at times intricately classical and at times almost hard rock, the whole explosion of keyboard-driven music is fuelled by Kenny Elliott's dextrous and versatile mellotron, Wurlitzer organ, piano and other keys. The background powerhouse rhythmn section is supplied by George Hart on bass and Kieran O'Connor on drums. Songs and instrumentals have a Hieronymous Bosch feel to them with a mixture of surrealism and tongue-in-cheek black humour. Tracks such as "Cyclops" are based on a Bach motif while "Something you've got" is almost a straight-ahead rocker. The final instrumental of the album is probably the high point among many - the main riff kicks in so hard that it makes you jump out of your seat and ends with a triumphant classical wall of chords against some quite extraordinary phased drums from Kieran, who must have had at least four hands to have played them and indicates a very jazz-influenced background and training. Really, there is not a dull moment on this album, even though one is bound to have favourites. It has been compared to Pink Floyd elsewhere but this is misleading - even though both bands looked at the edge of reality and human experience, the sheer musical ability of Secondhand allowed them to explore much deeper.
This is a "must" for all those truly interested in the development of progressive and classical rock, although it is neither of these. In truth, it is really like nothing else you will hear again and is thoroughly recommended. Try to get hold of "Reality" by the same crew and you will not be sad that you did.
Kenny and Kieran (sadly no longer with us) went on to record two albums "Things to come" and "Psi Fi" as Seventh Wave. Both are exceptional and so far ahead of the Fall out Boy syndrome that many would not "get" them at all. Really recommended. All is not lost, folks.

I find it hard to get a grip on Death May Be Your Santa Claus, but it is certainly an original piece of work. The album starts like a fairly bombastic symphonic rock opera sounding like a mix of the finale of Zappa's 200 Motels, Ciclos by Los Canarios and the movie soundtrack Hair. A bizarre beginning, although an over-the-top, uncompromising atmosphere pervades the whole album. The album listens like an avant-garde symphonic rock album with a nice dose of psychedelica mixed in. I can hear fragments that are somewhat similar to Moody Blues, early Mothers of Invention, Beatles from the Sgt. Pepper era and the Vanilla Fudge. A pleasant feature on the album is the frequent use of a rather psychedelic sounding organ. The second half of the album has several, extended, spacey organ washes that remind me of the Italian band Paese di Balocchi, but other parts are almost a forerunner to the Residents. A few, eerie passages recall the German horror movie soundtracks from the 30's. A strange, but interesting album.

get this gem here


musicgnome said...

This Second Hand Album brings back memories of a time where I found this album in a "Used" bin when skimming a crappy record store in NYC. It was an incredible moment. And, gives me a warm feeling to this day.

Shane said...

Oh man! I'm digging this one! Wild stuff...all over the place!

Thanks again for all this overwhelmingly beautiful stuff you've given me.

Anonymous said...

This really is amazing. I love hearing a new record that squashes that cynical I've-heard-everything feeling.

Anonymous said...

Great record, many thanks!
Cheers!! - SCM

Anonymous said...

This is a great LP, don't miss it!!! OOP for a while now & v.expensive/hard to find.
Can anyone else recognise Mike Patton's vocal style all over the title track?!?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Its an great lp, i've buyd it in 1974 and i will never give it away!!! Im looking for the cd from 1997, but ist not found. has anyone an idea?

Anonymous said...

Hello my Friend!
Many Thanks for some Share's
I call 'PsiFi' from 'Seventh Wave' my own, it's a great record(!), and I call it one of my beloved's.But I'm hardly looking for'Things to come'-any Idea?
Please go on this Way!
Greetinga frim Germany

Anonymous said...

I am interested to see that you have used my Amazon review as the starting point for this feature. It's a fab record but there's a hell of a lot more to it than this .... would have been nice to have mentioned your source...

Tom Thatcher

Nikos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malpica said...

I think MR. Bungle is a son of Secondhand

Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!