THE ONYX Kaleidoscope of Colours - The Onyx Demo Sessions 1967

 

1. Kaleidoscope Of Colours

2. These Are The Things

3. You've Gotta Be With Me

4. Louisa La Belle

5. Porcelain Monuments

6. I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing

7. Travellin' Along

8. He's A Salesman

9. I Put A Spell On You

10. Billy

11. On Our Way

12. Loneliness Cuts Like A Knife

13. I Used To Know Her

14. Life's Anticipation

15. I Just Had To Laugh

16. In Harmony

17. So Sad Inside

18. I Just Die

19. Climb That Tree

 

After relocating to the outskirts of London in the summer of 1967, Cornwall band the Onyx went on to record a clutch of late Sixties singles that are now highly regarded by psychedelic pop fans. A collection of studio demos recorded in late 1967 as they prepared to sign to a major label, Kaleidoscope of Colours features early versions of subsequent single tracks (including 'So Sad Inside' and 'You've Gotta Be With Me', the latter with songwriter Guy Fletcher on lead vocals), the band's original recording of subsequent She Trinity B-side 'Climb That Tree' and a host of previously unissued day-glo psychedelic harmony pop offerings, including the extraordinary, heavily phased title song.

Cornish act The Onyx’s clutch of highly-prized late 60s singles have become the stuff of legend. If not quite up to par with the later releases, their 1967 demo sessions, issued under the inviting title Kaleidoscope of Colours, were recorded when the group moved from Cornwall to the outskirts of London. These sessions see them firmly positioned somewhere between blue-eyed club soul act and tougher psych practitioners. Their guitar-heavy take on ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and the original version of the She Trinity’s ‘Climb That Tree’ are worth the price of admission alone.” (Record Collector)

Cornish band The Onyx are now revered for a slew of, at the time, commercially unsuccessful but excellent pop singles for Pye and CBS. Under the management of local entrepreneur Bob Potter, they recorded proficiently at his studio, which they lived above and from where these 19 tracks originate. Supposedly dating from 1967, many sound far too advanced for this date and more accurately represent the later 1960s generally. Ending with their original version of ‘Climb That Tree’ more widely known by the She Trinity (who seem to have simply dubbed their vocal onto the existing track and edited the ending), this is a valuable document of a top class band. From the phased popsike of the title track, the set demonstrates their immaculate progression over their time with Potter. They later became Vineyard, recording two excellent 45s and an as yet unreleased album in the mid-70s. The Onyx had pop and vocal smarts a-plenty. ” (Shindig!)

Cornwall’s the Onyx are best remembered these days for the trio of singles they released on Pye in the years 1968-69, ‘You’ve Gotta Be With Me’, ‘My Son John’ and ‘Tamaris Khan’.  As those sides amply display, the Onyx were an accomplished harmony pop group with more than a little psychedelic/progressive edge to them.  During the year prior to signing with Pye, they recorded a number of song demos, the majority of them group-written, in the home studio of their Surrey-based manager, Bob Potter.  Nineteen make their first appearance here, and among them are early run-throughs of future A’s and B’s, recordings that would later see the light of day in altered form, and a not a few fascinating nuggets that simply got left behind.  With a driving bass line and soaring harmonies that recall the early Move, ‘Kaleidoscope Of Colours’ is a tripped-out, phased, and Tamla-inflected number which more than fulfils the promise of its heady title.  Also reminiscent of Roy Wood & co. is the ultra-fab, insanely catchy ‘You’ve Gotta Be With Me’, a non-original that would be re-recorded for the A-side of their debut Pye single in March ’68.  Lyrically, it’s nothing more than an extended hipster pickup line (“I can get you into places and show you all the faces you wouldn’t see if you weren’t with me”), but the song’s wide-eyed exuberance lifts it far above the merely sleazy.  Here it’s sung by co-writer Guy Fletcher, and, while opinions will vary, I think the demo significantly out-rocks the later released version.  Also in the psych-pop vein are tasty group originals ‘These are the Things’, ‘Louisa La Belle’, ‘Porcelain Monuments’ and ‘So Sad Inside’, the last of which would be employed - stripped of the semi-creepy kid vocals - as a future B-side.  As the liner notes document, for a time the Onyx gigged on both the underground club/ballroom scene and the (presumably far more lucrative) cabaret circuit.  It’s tempting then, whatever the historical reality of it may have been, to find in a few of these demos that push and pull, between pop and progressive.  Some of the more organ-driven tracks blend the two beautifully, in particular ‘Billy’ and ‘I Used To Know Her’, while ‘On Our Way’ comes off a bit schizophrenic.  There are also, to be sure, some fine specimens of unapologetically pure pop, such as ‘Loneliness Cuts Like A Knife’ and ‘I Just Had To Laugh’.  The collection concludes in somewhat jarring but nonetheless cool fashion with the riff-y wig-out ‘Climb That Tree’, which would eventually appear, minus the Onyx vocals, as the B-side of a 1970 single by another Bob Potter act, She Trinity.

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