The Factory — “Red Chalk Hill”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — March 13, 2023


761) The Factory — “Red Chalk Hill”

The fifth song I ever featured was the Factory’s “Path Through the Forest”, one of the most titantic slabs of ’60’s British psych to be found. Later on, I featured the A-side of the band’s second and final single (released a year later in ’69) — “Try a Little Sunshine” see #460). Today comes the B-side of “Sunshine” — “Red Chalk Hill”. Now, this wonderful yearning song has both been described as “a gentle McCartney-esque ballad” (23 Daves, and “sound[ing] like John Lennon by way of either the Bee Gees or Zombies” (Jennifer Lind,, as “a Bee Gees-style ballad”, (, and even as a “long-lost Oasis out-take”. (23 Daves, I think it just sounds like John Pantry, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

23 Daves considers the song:

The B-side “Red Chalk Hill” (also sung by Pantry) . . . ha[s] going for it . . . a lyrically quaint kind of faintly menacing surrealism, combined with echoing, wailing backing vocals. The words bring to mind a Royston Vasey* styled town where one can never escape, whilst the music seems to be pulling the tune in the direction of “Fool on the Hill” styled optimism. It’s worth a lot, lot more than its throwaway B-side status.

OK, this was more a John Pantry record than a Factory one. David Wells tells us that “Pantry [was brought in] as writer and lead vocalist, and thus effectively reduced The Factory to the status of backing band on their own record.” (Record Collector: 100 Greatest Psychedelic Records: High Times and Strange Tales from Rock’s Most Mind-Blowing Era)

Wells elaborates:

The Factory were fatally handicapped by a lack of internal songwriting ability, and two Pantry songs were chosen as the band’s second single in the summer of 1969. Unfortunately they were unable to cope with the vocal demands of either . . . and John was required to supply lead and backing vocals on both songs. The results were, of course, masterful.

(liner notes to The Upside Down World of John Pantry CD comp)

Who was John Pantry? Wells says quite rightly that had “Pantry been American, he would surely now enjoy the same kind of belated cult reputation as the likes of Emitt Rhodes . . . . Sadly, though, John’s body of work prior to his decision in the early Seventies to turn his back on secular recordings in favor of spreading he Christian word is familiar to far fewer people than should be the case.” (The Upside Down World of John Pantry)

Jason delves deep into the Pantry:

[Pantry] had been a talented studio engineer for IBC Studios (working with Eddie Tre-Vett), producing for the likes of Donovan, The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream. He was also a member of Peter & The Wolves, an accomplished mid 60s pop group from Leigh-on-Sea/Southend and had a major hand with many other IBC studio projects of the time: the Factory, Sounds Around, Wolfe, The Bunch and Norman Conquest. . . . Besides being a savvy studio technician, Pantry was a gifted songwriter and vocalist and an accomplished musician . . . . [O]ne of Pantry’s first groups, Sounds Around. . . . played straight pop with slight soul and psych influences . . . . Peter & The Wolves came shortly after Sounds Around’s demise (they were essentially the same group). This is the group with which Pantry is most associated, along with The Factory. Peter & The Wolves[‘] most productive period was probably the years of 1967-1969, where they released a string of pop gems: a good, upbeat blue-eyed soul number titled “Still”, the superb Emitt Rhodes like “Woman On My Mind” and several tuneful psych pop creations, “Lantern Light,” “Birthday,” and “Little Girl Lost And Found” being the best in this style. It was around this time that John Pantry was asked to write two tracks for The Factory . . . .

* “The League of Gentlemen is a surreal British comedy horror sitcom that premiered . . . in 1999. The programme is set in Royston Vasey, a fictional town in northern England.” (

Here is an acetate:

Here is John:

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