The Ingoes

Before We Were Blossom Toes

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Unless you're an obsessive fan of British psychedelic rock, chances are excellent you've never heard of the band Blossom Toes, who cut two albums prized by collectors (and heard by practically no one else) in 1967 and 1969. Then again, if you're the type of listener for whom Blossom Toes are just too mainstream, well how about this -- a collection of rare material by the group that evolved into Blossom Toes? From 1964 to 1966, guitarist Brian Godding and bassist Brian Belshaw were the leaders of the Ingoes, a beat group who played a capable mixture of pop and R&B and for a time were managed by Giorgio Gomelsly (who also handled the Yardbirds). The Ingoes never scored anything approximating a hit, but they had a following in France, released some rare singles, and got to back up Chuck Berry and Sonny Boy Williamson on-stage before the combo was transformed into Blossom Toes during the Summer of Love. Before We Were Blossom Toes includes a handful of previously unreleased demos (documenting fine songs from the group's first guitarist and singer, Eddie Lynch), four tunes from a rare EP released only in France (in which the band tries to kick off a new Gallic dance craze with "Viens Danser Le Monkiss"), not one but two foreign language covers of the Beatles' "Help" (in phonetic French and Italian, which they handle just as well as the Fab Four knew German), and one energetic tune recorded during a live gig. The cover artwork proclaims the Ingoes were "one of the U.K.'s great lost '60s bands," and that's clearly a lie -- this group was good but hardly extraordinary, and whoever convinced these chaps to record "Pistol Packin' Mama" not once, but twice, must have been playing a trick on them. But the covers of "In the Midnight Hour" and "Mister Pitiful" confirm they were improving in their latter days, the handful of original tunes show promise, and any fanatical admirers of Blossom Toes curious about the band's juvenilia will find out all they need to know here. It's an open question, though, just how many such admirers actually exist. (Brian Godding contributes an entertaining and informative essay to the liner notes.)

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