Prior perception is a right nause, especially when it comes to The Galileo 7. This Kentish quartet have now been kicking out keen psych-pop nuggets since 2010, over the course of four albums and several 45s, but vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Allan Crockford’s illustrious past and parallel present, as bassist with a roll call of the greatest British bands of the past 30+ years – The Prisoners, The James Taylor Quartet, The Prime Movers, The Solarflares, Graham Day & The Forefathers – seems to have, weirdly, done ’em no favours. And in an age when peeps of a certain age are going goo-goo googly-eyed over the XTC back catalogue, rediscovering all manner of 60s psych-pop and garage treats, and lionising such moderne combos as Thee Oh Sees and Tame Impala, that the Galileo 7 haven’t reaped comparable plaudits seems just plain stoopid…
French rock’n’roll maven Phillippe Migrenne, the former manager of Jesse ‘Hammersmith Gorillas’ Hector AND Tav Falco, is a hard fella to impress and he recently asked whether I’d seen the Galileo 7, as he caught ‘em by chance in Paris and had been blown away – “I mean,” he said, “there aren’t many bands who can casually knock off a brilliant version of ‘Astonomy Domine’…” That should give you some idea of Allan’s six-string prowess, and what’s more he’s got the vox and songwriting chops to go with it. Of course, moving from bass to centre stage is really just completing the circle, Allan having initially been the embryonic Prisoners’ guitarist, with Graham Day holding down the bottom end, and he also played six-string with Johnny & The Bandits, Goodchilde and The Stabilisers.
But enough of this after-the-fact justification, tossing the weight of pedigree aside, and hearing the Galileo 7 with fresh lugs, they’re a hell of a combo. This, their fifth album (counting the scorching “Live-o-Graphic” set), sounds like the work of a quartet of twenty-somethings – it’s high-energy, psychedelic garage rock’n’roll, replete with catchy, memorable tunes, seriously gnarly guitar, darkly humourous lyrics, four-part harmonies, Viv’s searing organ, Paul’s pin-point bass work and gloriously crash, bang, wallop drums, in a Keith Moon meets Thom Mooney (The Nazz) vein. The latter comes courtesy of longtime Galileo 7 bassist Mole (Embrooks / Higher State / State Records), whose shift to the drum seat has really kicked everything up a notch – his dynamite sticksmanship and stellar backing vox really bring out the best in the band – from the kinetic opener, “Cold Hearted Stowaway”, to the vinyl album’s elegiac closing track, “Nobody Knows Anything”, they’re firing on all cylinders.
And everything sounds fantastic, too, clear yet punchy as hell, thanks to a typically trad Medway approach to recording, albeit informed by new technology. Everything was recorded live to eight-track in rehearsal, playing as a band, then overdubbed at home, in Allan and Viv’s cellar studio, which even boasts its own Hammond (“And it’s never coming up out of there!” he says), meaning that the album sounds exactly as intended – maximum impact, not too glossy and undeniably exciting. It stands should-to-shoulder with such footlong Medway classics as The Prisoners’ “The Last Forefathers” and The Milkshakes’ “After School Session” – it’s just SO RIGHT!
The expanded musical possibilities provided by that DIY recording process and Mole’s move to the drums are exemplified by the CD-only ‘bonus’ track, the ten-minute “The Girl In The Glass Case (Beta Version)”, a wild-assed, totally live jam marrying Allan’s careening guitar with a solemnly-told tale based upon the sleeve notes that he was asked to pen for fellow Kentish travellers The Senior Service’s debut album, which is also available on Damaged Goods. “I wrote a short story which was too long to use as sleeve notes,” Allan explains, “I thought of The Velvet Underground’s ‘The Gift’, so we recorded a one-take jam and Viv’s sister-in-law happens to be a voiceover artist, so she was perfect to narrate it.” But not only did said walloping, ten-minute musical rampage bequeath one track, Allan also used portions of it to fashion the album closer, proper: “‘Nobody Knows Anything’ was created from the first three or four minutes of the jam,” he confirms, “and I wrote a song on top of it…”
Characteristically, although he’s justifiably proud of the album, Allan’s also too damn modest, commenting of the recording process that, “A lot of it is luck, just as much as judgment,” and, concerning his top-notch tunesmithery, quipping, “I thought it was a black art, writing songs, until I was about 43.” Well, for longtime fans of the uniquely sussed bands who appeared from the Kentish Delta, seemingly as if by magic, when British music all-but-sucked in the early 1980s, this album sounds as fresh and exciting as you’d hope. For those fans of 1960s psych, beat and garage who, mystifyingly, haven’t investigated The Galileo 7 until now, fuck me, you’re in for a helluva treat!
B-Side the A-Side