The Mike Stuart Span— “Remember the Times”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 24, 2023

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

711) The Mike Stuart Span — “Remember the Times”

“Remember the Times” is thundering UK psych, a 68 MSS demo + ‘69 A-side released under the band’s new name Leviathan. As Richie Unterberger, the Span “takes a more raucous guitar-based approach than many of their psych contemporaries”. (https://www.allmusic.com/album/timespan-mw0000967359)

As to Leviathan’s release of the song, David Wells explains:

[Elektra chose to launch the renamed band by] issue[ing] two separate singles . . . on the same day under the portentous banner “The Four Faces of Leviathan”. Elektra backed up this bold marketing ploy by sending out a now highly sought-after press package containing the two 45s, a biography and a photo. . . . Although an enterprising idea, Elektra’s decision to issue two singles simultaneously served only to confuse. Some music paper reviewers focused on “The War Machine”, others on “Remember the Times”, and sales were hopelessly split between the two. Elektra would surely have been better advised to concentrate on “Remember the Times”, a far more commercial song that the band promoted on the Joan Bakewell-hosted TV show Late Night Line-Up.

liner notes to Leviathan: The Legendary Lost Elektra Album

Nice try at mansplainin’, David. The real problem was the bad karma resulting from naming the song “Remember the Times” in the first place. Of course, if you remember the ’60s, you really weren’t there!

Like the Holy Roman Empire, the Mike Stuart Span (see #225, 268, 658) was neither Mike nor Stuart, as there was no Mike Stuart in the group. Unterberger:

The Brighton group had been around since the mid-’60s, and recorded a few other singles for Columbia and Fontana with a much more conventional pop approach. [It] began to rely much more upon self-penned psychedelic material in 1967. Most of this never got beyond the demo/Peel session stage, though. The band was pressured by management to make an out-and-out pop single in 1968 that flopped, helping to squelch any prospects of the musicians asserting themselves as a significant presence in the British psych/prog scene. In the late ’60s, the Mike Stuart Span were actually featured in a BBC TV documentary entitled A Year in the Life (Big Deal Group), which charted the band’s successes and (more commonly) failures over the course of a year. By the time it aired in September 1969, however, the group had changed their name to Leviathan, signed with Elektra, released a few singles, completed an unreleased album, and broken up. . . . [T]hey left behind a number of demos that demonstrated a promising ability to wed hard psychedelic guitars with a fair knack for melody and harmony.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-mike-stuart-span-mn0000493422

Finally, Dave Furgess opined years ago that:

The great thing about groups like The Mike Stuart Span is they arrived on the scene cut a few classic sides then got the f*ck out of town instead of torturing the world for decades later like so many of the DINOSAUR groups that I try to ignore now! ( Mick Jagger are you listening? ). For that we should be grateful for the likes of The Mike Stuart Span and their cohorts in obscurity land.

https://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/319/

I do not agree with such views (just in case Mick Jagger is reading)! However, they are so gloriously bilious that I had to quote Furgess. Guilty pleasure!

Here is Leviathan’s version:

Here is Leviathan performing the song on A Year in the Life:

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