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Buried Treasure: Skip Bifferty

Skip Bifferty, RCA UK, 1967, £350+

The Newcastle upon Tyne band evolved from the ashes of The Chosen Few – featuring future Lindisfarne vocalist Alan Hull, who was replaced by Graham Bell – and Skip Bifferty was born. Similar to The Zombies’ seminal Odyssey And Oracle, Skip Bifferty is a high-class pop psych album containing enough quirkiness and memorable songs to make it stand out from other albums of the time.

As a fledgling outfit they were spotted by notorious manager Don Arden at a London Marquee show and duly signed to RCA. Their debut single, On Love, is a classic in the underground mod clubs and sports a killer heavy lead-riff.

The 14 songs here are enhanced by very creative production techniques including backwards guitars, phasing, effected vocals, strings, harpsichord, handclaps and piano. Generally light and melodic tunes are interspersed with heavy riffs and fuzz guitar breaks. Inside The Secret, Time Track and When She Comes To Stay are all prime examples of this creativity in full swing. However, no less interesting is the extremely minimal percussion and vocal-only track, Guru.

Vociferously championed by John Peel, they recorded a final single, Man In Black, which was produced by Small Faces’ Ronnie Lane and arranged by Steve Marriot. Unfortunately, as with the album, it failed to break through and disputes with Arden caused dejection. They briefly changed their name to Heavy Jelly and recorded the excellent seven-minute single,_ I Keep Singing That Same Old Song_, for Island Records.