Thoughts & Words: “Go Out and Find the Sun”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 13, 2022


580) Thoughts and Words — “Go Out and Find the Sun”

From Pandamonium comes . . . deep, calming Thoughts and Words and a bewitching song of affirmation and encouragement that should have been as ubiquitous in the early ‘70’s as the happy face! 😀

As Vernon Joynson says, “[Martin] Curtis and [Bob] Ponton had been the founders and mainstays of Pandamonium [see #115] but, tired of record company inteference, resolved in 1969 to proceed as a stripped-down duo.” (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited) Bob Ponton himself recollects (in the liner notes to the CD reissue of Thoughts and Words’ eponymous ’69 album from which today’s song is drawn):

It got me down. I went to bed and couldn’t get up for a month. 

We were furious at the way we’d been treated, so decided to ditch the production-heavy approach and make more simple, straightforward music together instead.

We were getting more and more into acoustic sounds and absolutely loved the Incredible String Band. 

As to the album, Ponton calls it “‘classical folk’ — many of [the] chord progressions are straight out of Bach.” Joynson calls it “a dainty collection of earnest folk-pop.”

Team Rock gives some backstory:

Bob Ponton and Martin Curtis met at primary school where they formed the first band and later played around the youth clubs in Gravesend, until they met Ray Jenns and Dennis Jenns. . . . [and] joined [their] band which later turned into the Pandas. . . . [then] Pandamonium[. A]fter the demise of Pandamonium they formed the duo Thoughts and Words. In mid-’68, five years and three singles into their career as Pandamonium, Bob Ponton and Martin Curtis . . . [were] at the epicentre of London’s psychedelic folk scene and hanging out with the likes of Davy Graham and Sandy Denny and the other Fairport members. The duo, fed up with the way they had been treated and supported by Denny and producer Joe Boyd, decided to go it alone. They’d built up songs and confidence, so Ponton decided to contact his old work mate, Andrew Lauder who was in charge at Liberty. After hearing the material, Lauder placed the duo in the tender care of rising producer and head of A&R, Mike Batt. The duo’s delicate, wistful songs gave Batt an ideal opportunity to hone his talents as an arranger and producer, as well as the album’s pianist. Thoughts and Words is a largely upbeat collection of melodic, pensive songs, so unlike the psychedelic rock vibe that had prevailed in their late ‘60s output. The duo decided to name the album after a track on the Byrd’s album Younger Than Yesterday, but were surprised to learn that they had been given the name too! The sound is warm and soft – and so is the music. A great folk album.

Richie Unterberger adds:

Thoughts and Words itself is by and large pleasant folk-rock, but lacked either the identity or strong material necessary to make a strong impression on the late-’60s British rock scene. Certainly they were a versatile group, as “Morning Sky” [see #237] was about as close as any U.K. act came to approximating the sounds of the Byrds circa 1967. . . . [T]he album . . . find[s] its most pleasant groove on dreamy acoustic songs with fingerpicked guitar in the style of Donovan and Paul McCartney at his lightest.

I have never disagreed more with Richie Unterberger than with his first sentence. The album is stellar. Unfortunately, as the CD reissue’s liner notes note: “Despite the LP receiving enthusiastic notices in IT, Melody Maker and elsewhere, Liberty [the record label] did little to promote it and sales were sluggish.”

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