World of Oz: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 10, 2021

278) World of Oz — “Peter’s Birthday”

Oz may be a darling of critics and collectors, but I admit that this ‘68 carnival ride of a B-side to “Muffin Man” (Oz’s best-known song and 1st A-side) is the group’s only song I think is really cool. I guess you can chalk it up to the Peter Principle.* By the way, Richard Metzger at Dangerousminds.net says that “Muffin Man” might be “the greatest/goofiest song ever written”. Well, it is certainly goofy. I once played it to my kids to celebrate their consumption of some blueberry muffins. In the Netherlands, the single hit #6, but didn’t hit the top 50 in the UK.

In any event, the band consisted of Brummies who moved to London to seek stardom:

They decided that while Birmingham’s club scene could provide work, it didn’t offer the kind of prospects for a recording career that they had in mind, and so they headed to London. Their songwriting ability got them snatched up by Sparta Music. And for a manager, they had no less a figure than Barry Class, who was best known for his most successful client, the Foundations (of “Build Me Up Buttercup” fame). Class lived up to his last name by setting the group up in a luxury apartment on Park Lane, in London’s exclusive Mayfair district, long a fashionable locale for movie stars and theater performers seeking to put on a big front in their lives. It made for a fair amount of press access and good press, as well as impressing various record company executives, accustomed to dealing with up-and-coming bands living in near squalor.

Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

However, as summed up by John Tracy’s liner notes to their sole album’s CD reissue:

They achieved in a short period of time success — with the likelihood of more to come — that many of their peers in the late-1960s could only dream of, yet for reasons that we’ll probably never know, simply imploded when they needed to sustain.

“It was little Peter’s birthday and all his friends were there. His mother gave them lots to eat and there was lots to share. They drank his health in orangeade and wished him all the best. They didn’t know that night that Peter was to have no rest. Black and white rainbows took him away to a place where licorice [sauce?] was made every day. Black and white rainbows were only part of his dream . . . .”

* According to Investopedia, the principle “is an observation that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence.”

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