thu 03/12/2020

Reissue CDs Weekly: Apple, Jason Crest | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Apple, Jason Crest

Reissue CDs Weekly: Apple, Jason Crest

Last-word collections dedicated to belatedly feted Brit-psych underachievers

Jason Crest get ready for a black mass

After their final records were released in 1969, that seemed to be it for Apple and Jason Crest. Releases by both psychedelic-leaning British bands had first hit shops the previous year, and neither oufit made any waves commercially. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story.

After their final records were released in 1969, that seemed to be it for Apple and Jason Crest. Releases by both psychedelic-leaning British bands had first hit shops the previous year, and neither oufit made any waves commercially. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Just over a decade later, Apple’s dark, mysterious “The Otherside” featured on 1980’s seminal-for-real compilation Chocolate Soup For Diabetics. Gathered alongside it were equally extraordinary but barely known gems such as Tintern Abbey’s “Vacuum Cleaner” and Dantalian's Chariot’s “The Madman Running Through The Fields”. Next, Apple’s pop-psych winner “Buffalo Billy Can” was on Chocolate Soup For Diabetics Volume 2 in 1981. Jason Crest’s thrilling, wild B-side “Black Mass” was first reissued on a couple of compilations in 1983 and 1984. Their debut A-side “Turquoise Tandem Cycle” was collected on a further comp in 1987. In the Eighties, both previously unlauded bands were elevated into the psychedelic pantheon. Each, it was clear, had more than one track which came up with the goods.

Apple_An Apple A DayNow, decades after the rediscoveries, a couple of CD releases have arrived which must be the last word on each band. Apple’s sole album An Apple A Day reappears as a digi-pack CD with the stereo album supplemented by the mono single versions of tracks it included (they issued two singles). A Place In The Sun – The Complete Jason Crest supplements their five singles with tracks from acetates, and goes further than the 1998 comp Collected Works Of Jason Crest by having a second disc of previously unheard tracks made to secure radio sessions.

Apple’s 1969 album An Apple A Day is intermittently terrific but as the liner notes explain it was issued without their input and included demo recordings and pointless cover versions. The band’s Jeff Harrad says of the demos that “we weren’t happy at all that these tracks had suddenly become our debut album. [Fellow band member] Charlie Barber in particular was a perfectionist, and he was disgusted. When we were given copies of the album, he took the album out of the sleeve, got hold of a pin and scratched across the tracks he’d written so that they couldn’t be played!”

AppleAdding to the insults, An Apple A Day was issued as a tie-in with promo body The Apple and Pear Development Council. A leaflet for said marketing organisation was included with copies. The band were rendered irrelevant to the record bearing their name – one they had chosen before The Beatles had set up Apple. (pictured left, Apple)

Even so, at its best An Apple A Day was fantastic. “The Otherside” is breathtakingly other. “Buffalo Billycan” is as good, but more like psychedelic pop-rock as it was known. “Doctor Rock” and “Let’s Take A Trip Down The Rhine” are almost as good. “Mr. Jones” and “Pretty Girl Love You” are on the way to such greatness.

Jason Crest did not issue an album, but their five singles give a good idea of what it might have been. Their debut, "Turquoise Tandem Cycle", was pop-psych in a “Whiter Shade of Pale” way. Mostly, they veered between that and a Small Faces-ish approach. Superb. The outlier amongst what was issued is “Black Mass”, a recording so over-the-top their label did not want to release it. An nth-degree inversion of Deep Purple’s “Hallelujah", it’s a wigged-out marvel (an unreleased longer version is also collected: presumably a Nineties creation as it’s edited to repetitively highlight specific beats for esoteric dance-floor action). Jason Crest also left unreleased acetates of completed studio recordings, all of which are included. All are top-notch pop-psych.

A Place In The Sun – The Complete Jason CrestWhat’s new with A Place In The Sun are the tracks on the second disc: two discrete sets of audition recordings from late 1968 and October 1969, made to secure radio sessions. The liner notes do not say who commissioned them, but notes that getting onto BBC Radio One was the goal. While rounding out the picture, these tracks don’t represent the Jason Crest listeners have grown to love since the 1980s.

On the first set of tracks, a version of José Feliciano’s interpretation of “California Dreaming” is OK and a Vanilla Fudge-style “Paint It, Black” is less OK. On the second set, an aural photocopy of “Come Together” isn’t great. Also on the second, four self-penned songs suggest they were heading in a rockier, Spooky Tooth direction (one of the tracks is a cover of Spooky Tooth’s “‘Better by me, Better Than You”). Excepting the extended “Black Mass”, Disc One catches Jason Crest at their best.

Realistically, Apple or Jason Crest could not have been huge. Despite the quality of what came out, both began releasing records in 1968 as the edge was coming off psychedelia. Also, their labels weren't positioned to undertake the necessary promotion to their natural markets. Apple split shortly after the release of An Apple A Day and members of Jason Crest went on to join and form other bands in 1970. Whatever their lack of commercial success remember Apple and Jason Crest this way, when they were integral to the patchwork of British psychedelia.

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