One Track Mind: The Bees, “Voices Green And Purple”/”Trip To New Orleans” (1966; 2012 reissue)

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Pressed in very sparse quantities on the Liverpool label in the fall of 1966, this single quickly drifted into darkness with the assumption it would never be heard again. But you can’t keep a good disc down, and two decades later, “Voices Green And Purple” started appearing on compilation albums dedicated to long-forgotten bands from the era in which the disc was created.

The ghastly rare single has recently been reissued by Ugly Things Records, packaged in a replica of the peculiar cut-and-paste sleeve it initially came in, which would no doubt be deemed “politically incorrect” in certain quarters these days, due to its mention of poo poo ashtrays and mentally retarded people. What a strange sense of humor the Bees had!

Referred to as an acid punk classic, “Voices Green And Purple” certainly fits the bill. Torched by a simple but contagious beat and the harsh hiss of a fuzz guitar, the song steadily gains momentum, climaxing into a spinning whirlpool of fast and wild rhythms colliding with lyrics depicting images of hallucinogenic nightmares, resulting in a statement so out there that that it makes similarly related tracks such as “Eight Miles High” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” seem almost lightweight by comparison.

The flipside of “Voices Green And Purple” is a neat folk styled blues number. Sounding like a mettlesome mix of the Beau Brummels, the Rolling Stones and the Seeds, “Trip To New Orleans” swaggers and shuffles to a bubbly groove formed of whiny sneering, chiming chords, a barking harmonica and a catchy melody.

Southern California dwellers, the Bees never repeated the cracked genius of “Voices Green And Purple,” leading them to be one of those groups resigned to a sole moment of brilliance. Buzzing with energy and edginess, the band’s lone claim to fame sits as the ultimate expression of garage rock cool.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Beverly Paterson
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