Angel Air Records (label)
23 July 2012 (released)
03 January 2013
Ruperts People are a British pop group that emerged in the late 1960s, though strictly speaking they already were around in 1964.
More precisely, they emerged when main man Rod Lynton collaborated with drummer Steve Brendell in an earlier outfit called The Extraverts.
After various changes, the band’s final line-up back in the day was comprised of Rod Lynton, Steve Brendell, Ray Beverley, John Tout, and Dai Jenkins.
This album (finally having emerged from my personal backlog pile!) is not only a ‘must’ for any collector of 60’s obscurebilia and followers of the Mod movement, but for anyone with a taste for nostalgia.
While the accompanying info booklet bears the proportions of a mega-biography, and its content is as confusing as it is fascinating, the music itself is just as unique a hybrid.
Anyone listening to the album will notice certain influences such as The Beatles and The Kinks… This is to a certain extend no coincidence, given the fact that various members of the original and also the later Ruperts People cultivated connections to the aforementioned bands in one way or another.
Opener ‘All So Long Ago’ is actually not a Ruperts People creation but a song by Sweet Feeling – another one of Lynton and Brendell’s musical projects. A thump-thump beat and matching riffs, as well as overall trippy horn arrangements turn this into a slightly rockier version than your average Beatles song. Equally interesting is the song’s fade-out, for it has an almost Morricone spaghetti western vibe about it. Or maybe that’s just me hallucinating on peyote…
‘Dream In My Mind’ (a Ruperts People composition) is, by comparison, juicier and is a great slice of rock-pop psychedelia, with a nod to the Amen Corner.
My absolute favourite of the album is the fourth track in: ‘Hold On’ is an amazingly danceable groover in the best tune in-drop out vein. Just imagine a swinging beat club somewhere in Soho, with rotating kaleidoscopic patterns projected on the walls. Brilliant stuff by Ruperts People, and guitar as well as the old wah wah organ simply rock!
What a downer the next track is, mysteriously titled ‘Prologue To A Magic World’. Though I’d like to point out that I in this case, I don’t mean downer in a negative sense. No, it’s just a very chilled and mellow affair, bursting with harmony. Lynton’s voice comes to particular good effect. There’s a definite Kinks feel to the song, and the music conjures up images of velvet-clad peacocks parading up and down Kings Road or Carnaby Street (and whatever happened to those?!).
In a similar pattern, and once again boasting a keyboard/organ sound so typical of that era, ‘Reflections Of Charles Brown’ is a solidly crafted pop ballad that should have earned mainstream success but didn’t.
‘Rain’ is in fact quite a well-known tune, alas I doubt that many folks out there know it’s by the amazingly confusing Ruperts People. Not sure what to make of ‘Flying High’ – for one, it"s an instrumental number, and although it’s perfectly well crafted it doesn’t set a thing ablaze.
The same can be said about the Rolling Stones cover ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. God alone knows what Jagger and Co. made of it! It’s a bold attempt for sure, but with its seemingly endless keyboard interludes and general slow pace, it feels more like a musical experiment gone pear-shaped. Sorry dear People, but this track sure ain’t for me.
Another incarnation of Ruperts People (or their various members) is the later outfit Matchbox, and two tracks – ‘Suzanne’ (a tribute to The Hollies) and ‘Don’t Shut Me Out’ – are included in this compilation.
And another incarnation, namely the brilliantly titled Swampfox, also got a few tracks thrown on this album. In particular, I like the country-tinged ‘Miss America’ with its laidback atmosphere, as well as closing number ‘River Lady’.
After a moderate ‘success’, Ruperts People disbanded for good in 1969, only to briefly reform in 1994 for a few gigs mainly aimed at friends and some hardcore fans. The band’s FINAL two gigs were at Ray Beverley’s 60th birthday bash, while the final APPEARANCE (didn’t I tell you they’re a confusing lot!) took place at ‘Jimmy’s Farm’, where the likes of Jamie Oliver danced amongst the celebrity audience. Having said that, who can tell whether things really are final with that band!