It is Tuesday and you all know what that means. Another exciting addition to the growing 60’s band of the week section. One of the main reasons this section continues to be updated is to introduce younger listeners to music of the past that they may find interesting. Music of the past that has inspired musicians today. Because, this is what music is; a long string of inspirations and influences that lead to a culminating track. Yet, another reason why I am doing this section is to possibly introduce or renew interest in certain unknown or long forgotten about bands from the 60’s, to those who were lucky enough to live through the era. We have already focused on one of the first psychedelic rock bands and a band who revolutionized bubblegum pop. Combine the two and spit out the bubblegum and you have today’s genre of music. Psychedelic Pop.
I would like to quickly explain psychedelic pop. It was obviously inspired by the original, harder and louder psychedelic rock (which we already covered with 13th Floor Elevators). The pop aspect of psychedelic music just took the sitars, tape loops and fuzz sounds of the rock and added them to their already pop dressing. This simply gave the music a psychedelic feel while maintaining the catchiness of their pop. Bands who took the rising psychedelia on this pop route varied from the watered down Strawberry Alarm Clock and their hit, “Incense and Peppermints” to the innovative Beatles. Somewhere lost in the middle of this wide genre was today’s band in discussion. The 23rd Turnoff and there long forgotten about front man Jimmy Campbell.
Band: 23rd Turnoff (The Kirkbys)
Origin: Liverpool, England
Genre: Merseybeat to Psychedelic Pop
Founded: Late 1950’s-1967
- Guitar/Vocals: Jimmy Campbell
- Cannot find the rest (please assist me)
Name: The 23rd Turnoff is referring to the exit off the M6 that led to Liverpool which is where the band came from.
History: The history of The 23rd Turnoff is practically the history of lost songwriter and vocalist Jimmy Campbell. Campbell is the embodiment of Rodney Dangerfield’s catchphrase, “I can’t get no respect.” Whether it was the lack of an exorbitant amount of work or the fact that he flew under the radar writing songs for many other artists besides himself, Jimmy Campbell has simply not been remembered and today’s profile will hopefully get some of his work listened to posthumously.
The story of The 23rd Turnoff and their merseybeat foundation The Kirkby’s is somewhat similar to the greatest band of all time, The Beatles. The Beatles also started off with merseybeat foundations (pop music mixed with R&B, doo-wop, and soul), yet, as the tides turned and psychedelic music became popular their music took a switch and albums like The Beatles 1967 release Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band were recorded. The 23rd turnoff were once The Kirkbys, a merseybeat band from Liverpool, England who, like The Beatles, performed at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. After releasing a number of songs that highlighted the merseybeat sound they switched their focus on Dylan inspired folk/rock and then, as the merseybeat era reached an end, they recorded “It’s a Crime,” which, playing perfectly with the times, echoed The Rolling Stones’ sound of fuzz guitar and rhythm and harmony. After experimenting with the merseybeat sound The Kirkbys changed with the psychedelic times and became The 23rd Turnoff.
The 23rd Turnoff allowed Jimmy Campbell to record more interesting songs with his band. The turn to psychedelic pop led to two masterpieces which conveniently were the a and b side of the 1967 single “Michael Angelo”/”Leave me Here,” and eventually found their way onto the compilation album The Dreams of Michaelangelo.
While these songs were quite fantastic they unfortunately were not met with great success and the psychedelic sounds of Jimmy Campbell and The 23rd Turnoff were unfortunately forgotten about.
Best Song/Album: If you are interested in checking out this relatively unknown band and I assure you, you will enjoy their sounds; your best bet would be in buying their compilation album The Dreams of Michaelangelo which includes their psychedelic hits and their earlier merseybeat songs. Most definitely their best song is their Sistine chapel “Michael Angelo.” I could not avoid the art reference however obvious it is.
The song is classic psychedelic pop. Perfect melodic harmonies on top of a picked acoustic guitar. This foundation adds a well-placed horn which gives it the psychedelic taste and a wonderful lyric. It is a melancholic hit and it deserves a listen.
Did you Know
- Bob Stanley of The Times described Jimmy Campbell as, “The era’s lost songwriter”
- The Guardian, a British Newspaper, called the compilation album The Dreams of Michaelangelo one of the 1000 albums to hear before you die.