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The Left Handed Marriage - On The Right Side Of The Left Handed Marriage (1967)
In the summer of 1965, in a corner of Hampton Grammar School, Bill Richards (who had been a fleeting, early member of 1984 before it acquired its futuristic name), and his colleagues Jenny Hill (nee Rusbridge), Henry Deval and Terry Goulds, formed a folk-rock band called the Left-Handed Marriage, named after an archaic form of marrying beneath oneself. By January 1967, the quartet had progressed to the point where they had issued their own privately-pressed album, "On The Right Side Of The Left Handed Marriage", which ran to just fifty copies (and, incidentally, has since acquired cult status among collectors, with a £600 price tag to match).
A few months later Bill Richards approached Brian May (then member of 1984) to help him create a "fuller" sound for the Left Handed Marriage, with a request to provide guitar and backing vocals on some recording sessions. The two sessions made with the 'full' line-up (one of them in the Abbey Road) were remained unreleased until 1993, when Richards tagged these recordings onto the end of "Crazy Chain", a CD recorded by the reformed Left Handed Marriage, which itself was prompted by collector's interest in the group's original 1967 LP, "The Right Hand Side Of . .". (adapted from a John S.Stuart article, 19.1.2006)
Righ Side... initially gives you the feeling that it was an 'unplugged' session of a rock (or pop/rock) band. 'Civil Servile" seems to need desperately the electricity to show itself and 'Another Kind of Love' seems to be one of this hypothetical band's quieter/softer moments. But as the album goes on, it starts to reveal a somewhat different face: there are songs of pure acoustic nature, yet not the folk or tradition-flavoured tunes you'd expect from an all-acoustic band. There are no tales from the woods or for the life by the old countryside, but stories from the city and about modern girls with mini skirts. And there are songs, still acoustic, but more "produced", with harmony vocals and a shy bass. Three boys and a girl, decided that their music doesn't need the power of electric instruments, but their voices, their guitars and their passion were sufficient. They decided also (or it was due to financial reasons?) that it didn't matter if the recordings were from a studio session, from their living room, or from a gathering by the fire in the evening, since these 50 copies pressed were apparently for their friends (and the record labels). As a result, "On the Right Side of the Left Handed Marriage" is a record of varying recording quality (always acceptable), but also with varying moods and -to a certain degree- styles. With a few exceptions, their choices were right: the more 'poppy' tunes were recorded in the studio or at least were more produced, while the more 'folky' tunes were recorded with just a guitar and vocals.
The vocals -both male & female- are full of youth and honesty, the melodies are well structured and there is a nostalgic feeling - at least as I'm listening to it today. Essentially songs in the english pop tradition (need I mention Kinks?), with a little folk and faint touches of psyche and Mamas & Papas harmonies, closer to the 'swinging 60s' feel than to the folk movement (let's just say that Marianne Faithfull could have sang some of these songs in the 60s - try 'Happiness Is You-Shaped'), these little melancholic songs are lovingly hand-crafted attempts from some promising kids, intimate relicks of an era that can never come back.
This is a rip from the 1996 reissue on vinyl (on Tenth Planet - very OOP now) and, although there are not much scratches, tracks A7 (the great 'Limousine') & especially A8 ('Arthur') are suffering by horrible skips, but, thankfully, the masterpiece 'Secret Girl', plays perfect and 'Arthur' can be found in another version. The original 1967 private press contained 15 tracks, but here you can find three more (alternative versions of 'Arthur', 'Happiness is you' and 'Another Shoulder'). Although these are simple, not demanding tunes, I'd recommend a couple of listens to let this record's innocence grow in you.