Dr Strangely Strange - Kip Of the Serenes (1969)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 12:14 AM

DSS’ debut album KOTS is often (and unfairly) overlooked by its successor HP, partly because of the Roger Dean gimmick artwork on the very collectible Vertigo Swirl label, but let’s not overlook that this highly bizarre debut appeared on the Pink era of Island records , which should be just as collectible. The multi-instrumentalist quintet (of mainly Irish origin courtesy of the songwriting trio Pawle, Booth & Goulding) recorded their first album under the patronage of the now-legendary Joe Boyd. But from their Gaelic heritage, you’d expect from DSS some kind of Celtic ballads & jigs; but it’s more the kind of acid- folk of the Scot duo ISB (minus the “acid” vocals); or the Baroque song of the utmost “Anglitude” of Amazing Blondel that seeps from the pores of your speakers.

Opening on their better-known track Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (it appeared also on a famous label compilation), a track that could’ve escaped out from the XIX century pubs’ doors. It seems that most of the songs proceed to a general concept hinting at the previous centuries’ realities facing the common man as the back cover nutcase galleon drawing might indicate, although I have no idea what Roy Rogers would do in this tale. No doubt those with enough patience would be able to get great enjoyment out of the nonsense turns of languages throughout the album’s ten songs. Instrumentally the band is a little amateurish, but never boring, almost entirely acoustic easily my fave on this album is the closing almost 9-mins Donnybrook Fair. Clearly throughout most of the album's tracks, ISB's Hangman's Beautiful Daughter is the blueprint of DSS.

Unlike many, I prefer the debut that seems to have more “chewing” substance, the album flows along alternating bigger longer numbers with some shorter songs. Although there arelesser moments of interplay, KOTS manages a more interesting climate and songs like Two Orphanages are somewhat equivalent to ISB’s best songs. These pure pastoral hippie albums must be seen as basis of the Wyrd folk that disseminated in the later 90’s and through this decade. By Sean Trane
01. Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (4:30)
02. Dr. Dim and Dr. Strange (7:35)
03. Roy Rogers (5:40)
04. Dark Haired Lady (4:26)
05. On the West Cork Hack (2:34)
06. A Tale of Two Orphanages (3:50)
07. Strings in the Earth and Air (1:54)
08. Ship of Fool (6:20)
09. Frosty Mornings (3:58)

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