303) The Syn — “14-Hour Technicolour Dream”
Ah, yes, the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream at the Alexandra Palace on April 29, 1967. In my mind, it and not Woodstock was the defining moment of and catalyst for the counterculture of the 1960’s. “Wow, I guess I’m not the only freak in this whole country.”* While the event is well known and documented, the following links might be of interest:
In any event, let’s get to the Syn’s ’67 song “14-Hour Technicolour Dream.” A few points:
First, I think the Syn’s main sin clearly was paving the way for Yes (guitarist Peter Banks and bassist Chris Squire).
Second, the song was a friggin’ B-SIDE (from the second of the Syn’s two singles)!
Third, THE SYN DIDN’T ACTUALLY PLAY AT THE 14 HOUR TECHNICOLOUR DREAM! I don’t know if they were even there (though, of course, many of the actual attendees couldn’t remember if they had actually attended). But, as David Wells says, “like Joni Mitchell and Woodstock a little while later, that wasn’t going to stop them commemorating the event in song.” (Record Collector: 100 Greatest Psychedelic Records: High Times and Strange Tales from Rock’s Most Mind-Blowing Era)
Fourth, I think the song is as tongue-in-cheek as its A-side “Flowerman.” Read the lyrics:
Reality is getting you down, just can’t seem to get your feet off the ground? Could it be that you’re caught up in a gravitational pull? Is it society making you out to be a fool? Forget it child, you can become a freak. The prettiest girl that the world has ever seen. At the 14 Hour-Technicolour, 14-Hour Technicolour Dream. Shades of orange and shades of green, shades of purple, yellow and tangerine, shades of blue, black and even cream. It’s a 14-Hour Technicolour dream. You got your freedom. Do what you like. Shoot yourself, root yourself, that’ll be alright at the 14-Hour Technicolour, 14-Hour Technicolour Dream . . . and it’s groovy ’cause they’re showin’ movies, yes they are. And everybody’s gonna be there, yeah. Ah, Suzy Creamcheese gonna be there, yeah. Yes, I said have a Havana and smoke a banana if you want to. I said, I said do what you want to.
To me, they sound like they were written by someone trying really hard to parodize the 14HTD and the counterculture.
Fifth, it is a really good song! David Wells calls it “an irresistible acknowledgement of the Ally Pally gathering of the tribes.” (100 Greatest Psychedelic Records) Richie Unterberger says in All Music Guide that:
The[ Syn’s] first single, “Created by Clive,” was a foppish Carnaby Street takeoff that the band disliked . . . . Their promise really bloomed on their next and last 45, “14 Hour Technicolour Dream,” one of the best obscure British psychedelic singles (indeed one of the best British psychedelic singles by any band). Inspired by the 1967 psychedelic London festival of the same name, it was an exhilarating distillation of the best attributes of British pop-psychedelia — a hook-happy ebullient melody, precise harmonies, unexpected structural twists and turns, Who-like drumming, and tasteful guitar distortion — into a compact package. It wasn’t a hit . . . and the band broke up in early 1968.
- This “quote” was made up by me, not that somebody at the Ally Pally might not have actually said it or thought it.