Brinsley Schwarz

Hen's Teeth

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AllMusic Review by

Hen's Teeth is a bit of a godsend for longtime Brinsley Schwarz collectors, gathering all of the group's non-LP singles -- including the first singles released when the band was a Swinging London pop combo called Kippington Lodge -- plus singles the group released under aliases. As the Hitters, they released the reggae single "Hypocrite," complete with the dub "Version" on the flip. As the Knees and Limelight, they released 45s of Beatles covers. All this is interesting, fun trivia, but the true meat of the collection lies in the Kippington Lodge material and the official non-LP Brinsley tunes. Kippington Lodge may not be earth-shattering and the band is quite derivative, borrowing heavily from psychedelic British pop, in particular the Beatles and early Yes. This isn't bad, but it is silly, whether it's the cascading psychedelia of "Lady on a Bicycle," the exhortation to have a "peace-off" on "Tomorrow Today," or the Vanilla Fudge-styled, bombastic soul cover of "In My Life." All artifacts, of course, but they're pretty engaging artifacts all the same, and the last Kippington song, "I Can See Her Face," is notable as Nick Lowe's first recorded song. The Brinsley material stands the test of time, finding the group at its very poppiest, whether turning out spirited covers of Naomi Neville's "I've Cried My Last Tear" and Tommy Roe's stomping "Everybody," or on originals, divided equally between Lowe, Ian Gomm, and co-compositions between the two. These four songs -- "(It's Gonna Be a) Bring Down," "I Like You, I Don't Love You," "There's a Cloud in My Heart," and "I Got the Real Thing" -- are shiny, glittering pop, finding the group exercising its mainstream melodic muscle. The songs didn't land the band any hits, but they stand as terrific little gems that offer a nice conclusion to this terrific, necessary compilation.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:36
2 3:02
3 2:23
4 2:47
5 2:50
6
2:58
7 2:37
8 3:02
9 3:18
10 2:15
11 3:00
12 2:56
13 2:36
14 2:54
15 3:02
16 3:27
17 2:46
18 2:47
19 3:14
20 3:02
21 3:06
22 3:35
blue highlight denotes track pick