THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
806) The Picadilly Line — “Emily Small” (The Huge World Thereof)”
This late-Summer of Love A-side is “whimsical toytown pop-psych” (Vernon Joynson, The Tapestry of Delights Revisited), “a gentle baroque-pop arrangement of strings and horns and period-perfect background vocals. . . . definitely lightweight, but charming”. (Peter Marston, https://www.popgeekheaven.com/music-discovery/lost-treasures-picadilly-line) The song comes from an album (The Huge World of Emily Small) that is a “delightful confection of high harmonies and a Beatles-via-California melodic sensibility[, t]wee in the best way possible . . . . [w]ith whimsical slice-of-life lyrics and a true ear for melody . . . a classic piece of UK pop-psych”(https://www.forcedexposure.com/Catalog/picadilly-line-the-the-huge-world-of-emily-small-lp/RAD.7005LP.html), “breezy post Sergeant Pepper psychedelic pop with plenty of swinging London vibes, orchestration and evocative whimsical lyrics”.(https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-huge-world-of-emily-small/)
Richie Unterberger dives into the album:
The Huge World of Emily Small [was] in the lightest and poppiest side of the British pop-psychedelic style. . . .
[It is] one of the recordings that most epitomizes what has been retrospectively dubbed the “toytown” school of British psychedelia . . . . the songs bounce along daintily; the vocal emphasis is on high harmonies; the lyrics are sometimes populated with observations of British everyday life and characters, sprinkled with a coat of whimsy; and the arrangements benefit from touches of baroque orchestration. It’s executed here, however, with a fey, twee touch that makes the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, for instance, sound rough ‘n’ ready by comparison. It’s thus going to be too light even for some British psychedelic pop enthusiasts, but it’s not quite the most saccharine entry in the genre, though it’s undeniably precious. There’s a folky lightness that keeps this from being too wide-eyed and childish, sometimes sounding a bit like Simon & Garfunkel gone toytown, though with some similarities to both the 1967-era Beatles and ’60s California pop in the vocals and arrangements.https://www.allmusic.com/artist/picadilly-line-mn0001587854/biography; https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-huge-world-of-emily-small-mw0000849623
As to the Picadilly Line, Peter Marston explains that:
[The band] was essentially a duo, consisting of Ron Edwards (guitar/organ/vocals) and Roger Hand (guitar/vocals). . . . [who] met up while students at London University, and began performing in local clubs in the mid-’60s. After securing a residency at the influential folk club Les Cousins, they signed a management deal with Roy Guest who quickly landed them a contract with CBS Records. The duo decided a suitably swingin’ named was required . . . finally settling on the misspelled Picadilly Line, the misspelling chosen due to a fear that they might be sued by the London Transport system. Sessions began almost immediately, produced by Guest and John Cameron, the arranger on Donovan’s Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow. The players on the album were largely drawn from the same pool of musicians that recorded Sunshine Superman, including, perhaps most famously, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Herbie Flowers on bass. . . .
The Huge World of Emily Small did not receive a heavy promotional push from CBS and failed to generate any traction in either sales or airplay. Sessions for a second album were begun, but when two follow-up singles failed to chart, the band folded—well, not folded so much as regrouped, this time emerging as Edwards Hand [see #151, 663], best known for being produced by none other than George Martin.https://www.popgeekheaven.com/music-discovery/lost-treasures-picadilly-line
Richard Allen adds that:
[The album] was released at the height of Flower Power in the summer of 1967 but, despite its immediate charms and psychedelic flower girl cover, failed to set the pop world alight. [P]lastered [over] the whole of London w[ere] fluorescent pink posters but that didn’t save the album from its fate at the bottom of the CBS list of priorities. They were too busy frying bigger fish such as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel who had just hit the big time with Sounds of Silence.liner notes to the CD reissue of The Huge World of Emily Small
David Wells notes that the Line was “too commercial to appeal to underground audiences, but they were nevertheless an integral part of the club scene, with regular appearances at such venues as UFO, Middle Earth and the Marquee.” (liner notes to Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 CD comp)
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