Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Purple Gang: Granny Takes a Trip

An article in the Guardian from 1992 tells the story of this single:
Granny Takes a Trip was recorded at Sound Techniques, a converted slaughterhouse in Chelsea, the day after Boyd had produced Arnold Layne, the first single by a young group from Cambridge called Pink Floyd, in the same studio. Beard remembers: "Syd Barrett [the Floyd's enigmatic leader] was there when we were recording. He loved Granny and said we would be No 2 in the charts when they went to No 1. He even offered us a song of his, Boon Tune, for the follow-up."
Unfortunately, it is not to be:
"We we were getting well known - we were booked to appear on Top of the Pops and Juke Box Jury," says Beard. "We had an LP coming out and we thought we were on our way. Then Transatlantic got a letter from the BBC accusing us of 'attempting to corrupt the nation's youth'. Someone had noticed the word trip in the title and decided it was about acid. We were banned and all the big things planned were dropped overnight." The BBC also accused Peter Walker of being a "self-confessed witch" - to be fair, his stage nickname was Lucifer - and said the group "would not be tolerated by any decent society".
Because of this history, "Granny Takes a Trip" was thought by many to be a long-lost psychedelic classic. But as Left and to the Back says, this reputation is hardly deserved:
Sonically it's also about as psychedelic as Lonnie Donegan, and is really some rather pleasing, toe-tapping jugband riffery. If isolated from the scene it emerged from, one would be tempted to argue that it was actually - for it's time - a seven years out of date novelty track. Still, the notoriety lead to a steady, constant trickle in sales, and whilst it didn't make the charts, copies are hardly difficult to come by these days as a result.
It also appears on many sixties compilation discs, which is how I came across it.

And The Purple Gang are still around. They have a website and here they are performing Cream's "The White Room" a couple of years ago.

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