Joe Meek photographed by David Peters, copyright David Peters (sorry for not posting the copyright originally).
While writing last week's post on Heinz Burt, lazy fuck that I am, I clicked on my Itunes (I run my computer's earphone jack through a Cayin T-50 Tube amp with some old ADS speakers a friend spotted on Ebay for me) and let the 91 song Joe Meek playlist play all day (normally I keep the thing on shuffle so the 22,587 songs can come up in the strangest order) and after a day or so lost in Meekdom I decided I really should hip those who have never heard it to what most of his fans agree to be as close to a masterpiece as Joe Meek ever created-- I Hear A New World. I Hear A New World was originally issued as a promo only EP under the name of the Blue Men, and later restored in 1991 by the folks at RPM to the twelve song album that Meek originally envisioned (and then re-restored and inserted into the book Joe Meek's Bold Techniques by Barry Cleveland (Mix Books, 2001).
If you're gonna buy the thing, look for the book version w/the CD, it's a better buy, since you also get the book (which is an excellent book if you like to read about reverb and tape echo), and I prefer the "warts and all" version, taken from the original test pressing to the digitally fixed up version RPM issued. Where was I? I think I started out with a point here...
Right, Joe Meek, and I Hear A New World. Meek, who was Britain's first independent rock'n'roll producer recorded this thing in 1959 and originally thought it might be marketed as a stereo test record. A four song EP was pressed in extremely limited quantities (probably less than one hundred copies), a second EP was planned but never issued and a test pressing of the 12 song LP exists although there's probably only a couple of copies in existence.
The EP, I Hear A New World Part 1 (Triumph), was issued under the name of The Blue Men, while the re-issue credited The Blue Men with Rod Freeman (the group's leader, who also served as Meek's musical transcriber, since Meek didn't play an instrument and couldn't sing in key, Freeman had the unenviable job of turning Meek's off key humming into musical riffs and melodies). What it is, is an outer space pop music concept album, long before LSD, Pink Floyd, laser light shows, and all that made such things a common place part of American suburban growing up which came in the wake of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon in the early 70's. Meek's idea was to create a recording of what he imagined music would sound like on the moon. And he recorded it in stereo, although he was using his home studio at Arundel Gardens (pre-Holloway Road), which was outfitted with three mono recording machines. No one has been able to figure out how he recorded the thing in stereo, although many theories are bandied about in Cleveland's book.
It's not a rock'n'roll record, I guess it would fit closer into the category of electronic exotica
of the Dick Hyman (of Moon Gas infamy) sort. Much use is made of the clavioline, an early electronic keyboard (much like the Solovox Sun Ra played), as well as steel guitar, and what we now called sampled sounds-- dripping water, toilets flushing, etc. all manipulated with Meek's array of homemade echo, reverb, delay boxes and oscillators. On top of this the voices are all overdubbed and run at various speeds, giving it a definite "other worldly" feel. Kinda like the Ran-Dells' Martian Hop. In fact, it sounds sort of what I'd imagine the Teletubbies would sound like if they were a band (long time readers know I loved the Teletubbies and me and my wife watched them every morning for years). Anyway, I.H.A.N. W. was a bit ahead of its time, as Meek would top the charts worldwide with another outer space themed disc-- Telstar by the Tornadoes, three years later. No matter, It's a lot of fun to listen to, especially if you're a pot head. So here it is:
I Hear A New World, Glob Waterfall, Entry Of the Globbots*, Valley Of The Saroos*, Magnetic Field*, Orbit Around The Moon*, The Bulblight, March Of The Dribcots, Love Dance Of The Saroos, Dribcot's Space Boat, Disc Dance Of the Globbots, Valley Of No Return, I Hear A New World (alternate mix). As I said in the Heinz post (below), Joe Meek's music may be an acquired taste, but I Hear A New World is some of his best, all that's missing is the rock'n'roll part. While I'm on the subject of Joe Meek, you garage band lovers should invest in a copy of RPM's Joe Meek's Groups- Crawdaddy Simone which includes the amazing title track from the Syndicats (Meek's answer to the Yardbirds/Stones/Pretty Things), and Diamond's Intergalactic Instro's, 31 instrumental tracks including the Moontrekkers' Night Of The Vampire, some live Tornadoes tracks and Meek humming the demo for Telstar.
* These four tunes were on the original I Hear A New World Part. 1 EP.