[Intro: archive recording of orchestra tuning, then tape speeded up] [A]Well, you don’t need no one To tell you what is wrong But you don’t understand Yeah, that the summer’s gone [A]And winter rain is cold And if your lose your hold Well, they won’t treat you kind They’ll make you lose your mind [B]Where the sun seems to shine And the clouds are in line But it’s winter all the time [C]Must be the Devil in your mind (x 3) [D]Says to you: (Spoken) Come on, young man; take my little black hand And I’ll bring you up those golden stairways Yean, to nowhere, come on, ah... ([E] Guitar solo) [A]You hear the hound dogs bay You hear the angels pray You hear the judges’ lies You see the devil smiles [B]Where the sun seems to shine And the clouds are in line But it’s winter all the time (You know that’s right) [C] Must be the Devil in your mind (x3) [D]Who says to you: Come on and we’ll go Where the green grass grows And everything swings all the time Know what I mean? ([E] Guitar solo) [A]Well, you don’t need no one To tell you what is wrong But you don’t understand Yeah, that the summer’s gone (Whispered) Gone, it’s gone, it’s gone etc. Jim Pembroke 1969 Artist: Wigwam Line-up: Jim Pembroke, vocals, piano Nikke Nikamo, guitar Mats Huldén, bass Ronnie Österberg, drums Release: First released as a single A-side, Love Records LRS 1021, 1969 Studio: Finnvox 'Supervision': Hasse Walli and Eero Ojanen Engineer: Erkki Hyvönen
The lyric: As with a lot of the Beatles material from the late 1960s it is difficult not to see this as a comment to some kind of drug experience, but here we have the downside, the unhappy long-term effect. The narrator is singing directly to an unnamed friend, an approach used frequently by Pembroke. The friend (or is it really a part of himself?) seems unable to accept that ‘the party’ is over and his misplaced self-confidence prevents him from realizing that the same drugs that used to make him feel good can now make him lose his mind. (Incredibly, the poisonous chemical build-up in the body from sustained dope smoking is still very much uncharted territory, though it is recognized by people working in psychiatrical wards; if that is really the issue here, Pembroke is certainly ahead of his time.) What keeps him on the wrong path – ‘those golden stairways to nowhere’ – is a little devil inside him, urging him on. There is a strong connection between this and the Blues Section song about choosing ‘The Straight and Narrow’.
Having said all that, I doubt you can call Pembroke an advocate for the ‘Just say no’ cause. When I met him in 1983 he suggested that smoking dope would enhance my enjoyment of listening to the ‘Hot Thumbs O’Riley’ album. (I replied that I hardly found that necessary and that I couldn’t possibly enjoy it more than I already did.)
The music: As this song seems to be partly about ‘The Summer of Love’ what could be more appropriate than begin it with a reference to the Beatles’ 1967 classic album ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’? In other words, the introduction is a classical orchestra tuning their instruments, but after a few seconds the tape speed is turned up, giving a ‘things are going pear shaped’ effect, somewhat akin to ‘A Day in Life’, the final track on that same Beatles album. From then on the mood changes drastically, however, because this single is from 1969 and by now ‘the summer is gone’. Hence, there is something slightly cynical about the mode of musical expression chosen by Pembroke.
The song can be broken into no less than five different parts. There is a certain ‘Garage Acid’ feeling in the verses [A], with a minor key riff where bass and voice are sometimes working in unison, sometimes parting ways, giving the listener a sense of floating along. (Note that in the second verse the melody line changes, or rather: it goes up, a unique feature Pembroke has employed practically throughout his entire career as a songwriter). This is interrupted by a bridge [B] with changing chords over a sustained bass note and then a jazzy chorus [C], followed by a spoken bit [D], again with a sustained bass note over which the chords build up with increasing menace to reflect the lyric. This is followed by an abrupt shift into a minor key over which the guitar solos [E]. All these five parts have a completely individual musical feel but still manage to suit each other.
It is worth noting that Pembroke at the time was privately studying a multitude of composers and styles. Also, he was getting seriously into composing on the piano and the result can be heard in the interplay between bass notes and chords, reflecting the way your left and right hand can work separately as individual instruments on a musical keyboard.
The song almost works as a musical collage, reminiscent of the kind of picture collages that were popular around this time. The feeling that we are presented with a series of seemingly random stylistic choices (reminiscent, perhaps, of the multitude of hallucinated images one can experience under the influence of so-called mind-expanding drugs) is emphasized by there being little structure of the typical ‘verse-chorus, verse-chorus’ type used in most Pop and Rock music. In fact, as we have seen, there is a structure (A-A-B-C-D, solo, A-B-C-D, solo, A), but unless you write down and look it over carefully the structure seems to disappear as the song keeps taking on new directions.
This is by no means the most inviting or commercial way to construct a song, never mind the A-side for a debut single, but then commerciality was rarely at the top of Pembroke’s agenda. With its one foot in Psychedelia and the other in the slightly later, more ‘grown-up’ and less innocent genre of Progressive Rock, his composition here provides a fine musical backdrop to his lyric.
This is Wigwam’s only release prior to Jukka Gustavson’s joining the group. It is also Pembroke’s debut as a piano player. His playing skills leave a lot to be desired and the same seems to go for the group’s guitarist, Nikke Nikamo, though it is probably fairer to say that he was stylistically misplaced in the group (he seems to have been a jazz rhythm player rather than a power chord and rock solo blaster). However, they both manage to hide their shortcomings well by underplaying.
The only exception is the two guitar solos. I have suggested in the guestbook for this site that these solos must have been performed by Hasse Walli. Listening to the track again carefully I think I will withdraw that statement, because Walli’s solos were in general more experienced than this. But Walli was present in the studio as a kind of co-producer and must have given Nikamo some advice on sound and playing technique. It also sounds as if Nikamo used the same kind of fuzz box as Walli, unfortunately.
All in all, it was up to bass playing debutant Mats Huldén and the already seasoned drummer Ronnie Österberg to heighten the technical score. They are slightly let down by the stereo mix which places the bass far out to the right; but Österberg always had a great, driving feel to his drumming, and Huldén’s playing is both imaginative and musical. The biggest problem is Österberg’s drum sound, but that is hardly unique for this single. It seems unlikely that the natural sound of his kit could have been this bad, so the culprit has to lie on the engineering front, or rather the studio equipment and environment.
All in all, the track is a big step forward compared to the Blues Section releases. Primarily, Pembroke is gaining confidence as a highly original and superbly talented songwriter. The co-operation between bass and drums is tighter than before and Huldén provides some interesting, innovative bass lines in the melodic style of McCartney. However, as was often the case in Blues Section the solo guitar playing is not quite on par with the prominence it is granted.
It seems that Finnvox and engineer Hyvönen have done their very best this time, but in that job you can only be as good the equipment you have at hand and the overall recorded sound could have done with some more excitement and sparkle, particularly in the drum department. Furthermore, the single was released in a typical late-Sixties messy stereo mix. To my mind tit would have been better to mix in mono, as was still the normal practise with singles at the time.
As always, Jim Pembroke’s singing is up there with the very best and double-tracking is finally used in a purposeful way.
This single was for many years practically unobtainable but can now be found on the ‘Fresh Garbage’ double CD. It really is a gem for any collector of the group and marks a turning point in Jim Pembroke’s career.
-- Claes Johansen (with thanks to Rick Chafen), 2008