Picture sleeve for Pink Floyd's "Apples and Oranges"
Pink Floyd had its genesis in an earlier band called Tea Set featuring guitarists Rado “Bob” Klose and Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and wind instrument player Rick Wright. All four had been in a band called Sigma 6 which had since broken up. Tea Set added guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett (Roger Waters switched over to bass guitar), and the band was rechristened Pink Floyd (or The Pink Floyd), an amalgam of the names of blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Klose left the band, leaving Pink Floyd as a quartet. Barrett started writing his own material, influenced by both British and American psychedelic music, but incorporating his own whimsical humor. Pink Floyd became a favorite in the underground movement, and in October 1966, they formed a six-way partnership with managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King. This led to a contract with EMI and the release of their first single, “Arnold Layne”, in March 1967. “Arnold Layne” reached #20 on the UK singles chart and the follow-up, “See Emily Play”, reached #6. This led to their first full-length LP, “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, released in August 1967. It was a commercial hit in the U.K., reaching #6 on the album charts, and was a critical success as well, with many critics recognizing it is a prime example of British psychedelia, second perhaps only to The Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. While the band was still working on a second LP, they released a third single, “Apples and Oranges” b/w “Paint Box”, in November 1967. This is today’s featured single.
The A-side, “Apples and Oranges”, was written by Syd Barrett and provides a prime example of Barrett’s pop psychedelia at its finest. It opens with a slightly distorted guitar, augmented by a wah-wah pedal. Soon we are introduced to Barrett’s vivid lyrical imagery: “Got a flip-top pack of cigarettes in her pocket/Feeling good at the top/Shopping in sharp shoes/Walking in the sunshine town feeling very cool/But the butchers and the bakers in the supermarket stores/Getting everything she wants from the supermarket stores”. And then we find out about a girl that Barrett saw walking around town in Richmond. The chord arrangement is relatively simple, relying heavily on G, which is probably the most oft-repeated chord here. The song fades out with a music box-like melody repeated, giving way to a wail of guitar feedback. Although “Apples and Oranges” failed to make the charts in either the U.K. or U.S. (in the latter country, it was released on Capitol subsidiary Tower Records), it is a memorable piece of psychedelic whimsy. Although the song was initially not intended for inclusion on an album (its first appearance on an album was on the compilation LP “The Best of Pink Floyd/Masters of Rock”, released in 1970), both tracks on the single were mixed in stereo, although the single was released in mono (the “Masters of Rock” LP represented the first appearance of the stereo version).
The B-side of this single, “Paint Box”, was written by Richard Wright, and the song features a minor key melody that prominently features E minor ninth and E added ninth chords. The song is played in the key of G and has a more complex chord arrangement that “Apples and Oranges”. The song is notable for its anti-social lyrics (also sung by Richard Wright): “Last night I had too much to drink/Sitting in a club with so many fools/Playing to rules/Trying to impress/But feeling rather empty/I had another drink”. The song also features some rather extended drum fills from Nick Mason. As the lyrics end, a piano solo begins, which lasts through the song’s fade-out. Listening to the song, this music listener is a little disappointed that Wright didn’t compose more songs, either for the Pink Floyd canon or as a solo artist. Still, “Paint Box” is a testimony to his capabilities in crafting rather ponderous music. This song can also be found on the “Masters of Rock” LP, as well as the “Relics” (1971) compilation of early Pink Floyd material.
The single (catalog #: DB 8310) was issued on November 18, 1967; it
"Apples and Oranges" single without the picture sleeve (U.K. release)
Picture sleeve for the dBs' debut single, "(I Thought) You Wanted to Know", issued on Car Records.
The dBs were the brainchild of Chris Stamey, who played bass with Alex Chilton (the Box Tops, Big Star) in 1977. After the breakup of the the Sneakers, a band Stamey co-founded with Mitch Easter, Stamey (guitar, vocals, keyboards) recruited former Sneaker members Gene Holder (bass) and Will Rigby (drums) for the dBs. They released their debut single, “(I Thought) You Wanted to Know” b/w “If and When”, credited to “Chris Starney and the dBs”. This is today’s featured single.
“(I Thought) You Wanted to Know” starts with a drum beat, followed by a catchy riff, joined by Stamey’s vocals about 20 seconds into the track: “I want to know what it is that we’re looking for/You say to me in a voice that’s both soft and sore/I’ve got the key, it’s just that I don’t think anymore/I am in the air, I don’t have a care”. Stamey evokes comparisons to Chris Bell here (while the bouncy melody, in this listener’s opinion, evokes comparisons to contemporaries such as The Rubinoos), and this song is a solid slab of power pop, a worthy addition to any collection of 1970s pop. This song was written by Richard Lloyd of Television; the dBs thus provide a link not only between the power pop/jangle pop bands of the 1970s and those of 1980s, but also between the latter and the 1970s punk movement. From the opening to the soaring, ethereal fade-out 3 minutes and 16 seconds later, this is one of the more memorable debut singles of this era.
The B-side, “If and When”, has more of a garage-rock feel to it, with a gritty-sounding guitar pounding out a catchy melody punctuated by Rigby’s solid drumming. The lyrics are as abstract as they are on the A-side, if somewhat more vexing: “If and when you come/I will see you there/I submerge your face/Blood all in your hair/I’ll be true and I won’t know/If and when you come/I’ll go slow”. We get a very cool-sounding guitar solo (albeit brief) 1 minute and 11 seconds into the track, followed by one last verse, and the song closes with Stamey’s vocals reaching a fever pitch with the lyric “I’ll be hot” (for the most part, Stamey would abandon his yelp in later releases) repeated several times preceding a wail of guitar feedback that brings the track to a screeching halt. One has to assume that the fact that the band chose two very different songs for this single has some significance, and the dBs show an amazing degree of range and depth that belies their status as a newly-formed band.
View of the back of the picture sleeve.
This single (catalog #: CRR 7) was released on Stamey’s Car Records imprint, a short-lived label that nonetheless released a few interesting records, including Chris Bell’s only solo single, “I Am the Cosmos”, and a Peter Holsapple maxi-single. There was a picture sleeve (shown above). In October 1978, Peter Holsapple (guitar, vocals) joined the band. The dBs were unable to secure a deal with an American label, so they signed with U.K.-based Albion Records, who released their debut album, “Stands for Decibels” (1981). The album received critical acclaim but achieved negligible sales. Their second album, “Repercussion” (1982), built on the strengths of the first and contained such singles as “Judy”. Stamey left the band after the second album and pursued a career as a solo artist and producer. The band finally landed a deal with an American label (Bearsville Records), but the release of their third album, “Like This” (1984) was delayed due to distribution woes. Rick Wagner, who played keyboards on “Like This”, joined the band on bass, and Gene Holder took over lead guitar duties. Peter Holsapple became the lead singer. After Bearsville Records went out of business, the band signed with I.R.S. Records, who released their next album, “The Sound of Music” (1987), on which Jeff Beninato played bass. The band subsequently broke up, although two CDs were released posthumously: “Ride the Wild Tom-Tom” (1993), consisting of early demos, recordings and singles, and “Paris Avenue” (1994), which consists of demos recorded in the band’s waning days. The band reunited in 2005, and began work on a new album. They recorded a version of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. They played two shows in Chicago and two shows in Hoboken, New Jersey that year. In early 2007 they played at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City and at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. Work on the new album continues as time permits.