311) Felius Andromeda — “Meditations”
Anorak Thing says that “Meditations” is “[p]ossibly one of the oddest records of British 60’s psychedelia” (http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2010/12/and-with-death-of-my-comprehension.html). Damn straight. The song is also often derided as a Procol Harum copycat crime. For instance, Graham Reid writes that:
[A]ny number of acts at the time [tried to replicate Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”]. Among those who fell for the idea of church organ and trippy lyrics were Felius Andromeda who even managed to haul in some faux chanting (Gregorian or Buddhist, you choose), stabbing strings and one of those very embarrassing spoken word sections which sound like the musings of schoolboy trying hard to be part of the acid generationhttps://www.elsewhere.co.nz/fromthevaults/4870/felius-andromeda-meditations-1967/
But many others, myself included, cherish the song. The Chocolate Soup for Diabetics psych comp says that the song “features a wonderfully sombre sound” and Richie Unterberger writes in All Music Guide that:
“Meditations” was one of the best British psychedelic obscurities, highly reminiscent of early Procol Harum in its organ work. But it also had a gothic churchy atmosphere of its own in its Gregorian backing vocals, almost tearfully philosophical vocal, and solemn spoken incantation . . . . Not the stuff of hit singles, perhaps, but a fine piece of trippy psychedelia. . . . It’s surprising that a group with such evident promise never got to record again, but it was their only single. . . . they did pose for publicity photos in monks’ robes . . . .
The band told Record Mirror that at a seance soon after the song was recorded, a spirit sent a message:
The message, from a spirit signing himself the Devil read: “Felius Andromeda – HIT”. . . . Since working on this record we’ve been surrounded by a strange atmosphere, which has affected the group deeply.http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/felius.htm
Unfortunately (for the devil’s reputation for prognostication), the single was nowhere near being a hit. Band member Alan Morgan reminisced that:
We were so confident that the record would be a success, Johnnie Walker made it his pick of the hour on Radio London . . . . When nothing much happened, disillusionment took over and we eventually drifted apart all going on to different bands.Id.
Ok, let me throw out one possible reason for the song stiffing on the charts — the lyrics. Anorak Thing says that they “are pure fried brain material in my book.” I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but I am sure that the lyrics are some of the most self-absorbed and depressing that I have ever heard in a pop song:*
“Reflected in my soul I see all the damage that you done to me. No pain was spared for my contemplation to bring me down to this degradation. Love’s come and gone and left me. Caused me all this pain. Destitute in every way to spend the rest of my days. (Ah, ah, ah [by a Gregorian chant-like chorus]). Meditate [repeated ad naseum]. Desperation has its hold on me and I know that I can’t be free. Within my heart is this realization my [busted?] soul lives in resignation. . . . Through the ruins of my mind I see premonitions of my destiny, and with the death of my comprehension my heart is locked in my soul’s redemption. Meditate [repeated ad naseum].”
We learn from Alan Morgan that the producer’s girlfriend wrote the lyrics. Hmmm . . . . I wonder if she had the producer in mind.
* Not including tongue-in-cheek lyrics.