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HANFORD FLYOVER – THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS/ YOU NEVER CAME DOWN (Fruits de Mer 7” single, release date June, 2024)

Updated: May 21

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA featured Joseph Byrd and singer Dorothy Moskowitz (who had sung in a group alongside ART GARFUNKEL) and also included bassist Stuart Brotman who was in another classic US psych group KALEIDOSCOPE. Byrd was involved in experimental music and part of the Fluxus movement which included JOHN CAGE and YOKO ONO. He moved from New York to Los Angeles where he studied ethnomusicology at UCLA, and became co-founder of the New Music Workshop alongside esteemed jazz trumpeter DON ELLIS. The group Joseph Byrd formed was fairly unique in having no guitarist, employing strings, keys and primitive mono synths and purpose-built ring modulators and electronic oscillators; he was also a pioneer in experimental recording techniques aided by David Rubinson’s skilful production.

So, the group’s one and only eponymous 1968 album has become a timeless cult classic, introduced to many by the acerbic ‘I Won’t Leave My Wooden Wife for You Sugar’(It’s Ellis on the trumpet) on the classic CBS sampler “The Rock Machine Turns You On”. The album is best listened to as a whole, but ‘The American Metaphysical Circus’ and ‘Love Song for the Dead Ché’ are also choice cuts if any introduction is needed. The whole album can be heard in remastered and expanded (from 10 to 20 tracks) form on a Cherry Red CD.

But HANFORD FLYOVER (Josh and Holly Bowler) has chosen none of these songs. Instead, they go for ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ which was the group’s only single at the time. It’s a very faithful copy in every respect apart from an electronic rather than violin coda. It’s a different story for the B-side which differs in a few respects from the version that never made the album, even more so than the version that was released on the JOE BYRD & THE FIELD HIPPIES album “The American Metaphysical Circus” which has a fuller production than either previous version, and includes an avant-garde coda with warbling synths which is a bit like listening to an alien spaceship landing. To confuse things further there IS a track called ‘Coming Down’ that did make the album - the one with the classic lyric “Reality is only temporary” -which has some neat acid guitar. Hanford Flyover’s version is a nice reminder of what a great (and adaptable) song ‘You Can Never Come Down’ was, focusing on a repetitive chorus and organ / synth based like the first version by The United States of America. I did miss the haunting two note coda that featured on the Field Hippies version though, but you can’t have everything.

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