Written by 5:00 am Audiophile Music

Lost ’60s Psych Pop Records, Part 6: Tomorrow Featuring Yes Guitarist Steve Howe

Mark Smotroff rocks into Tomorrow with Steve Howe’s original band (Record Store Day reissue)

Tomorrow’s lone album release is a knockout lost classic of 1960s British psych pop and it was just reissued in original rare mono for Record Store Day this year.

TomorrowBandPIc225.jpgThe first thing that completely knocked me out listening to this record is the cover of The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Tucked away on side 2, the arrangement rocks harder and more assuredly than The Beatles version. It’s not quite as trippy as the Fab Four’s version, but it sure packs a wollop that I have only heard achieved on one other cover of this tune (the version in the movie Across The Universe, which may well have been modeled after Tomorrow’s version). 

This LP showcases what a great band Tomorrow was, right up there with the Move, Pink Floyd, the Small Faces, the Kinks and the Who as far as mod-rocking bands went in the mid/late 60s. You can hear that indescribable special something — that makes some bands super cohesive — jumping off the grooves and out into your speakers.

Much of that cohesion can probably be attributed to drummer Twink (really, that was his name) who left shortly after this album to join the Pretty Things who were about to embark on recording their influential pre-Tommy rock opera SF Sorrow.  Man, the guy knew how to drive the rhythm section; a good drummer can make or break a band and this one really made Tomorrow rock hard.

TomorrowCover225.jpgNow, let me get to the audiophile part of this review. I mentioned earlier that this Record Store Day limited edition reissue LP is in mono. While I never had a copy of Tomorrow before to compare this edition to — one of those albums I somehow missed along the way — I suspect that doesn’t really matter too much based on what I’m hearing.

For a 1967 recording reissue, this sounds pretty fab! 

I have checked out some versions of the album posted on the Interwebs all of which are in stereo and I immediately heard “that thing” that sets many early-to-mid-60s monaural recordings heads hands and feet above stereo mixes of the period.  The stereo mix, while psychedelically pleasing with its left-right separation and effects and such, is much weaker than the Mono mix. In the Mono mix, the rhythm section is locked in dead center and thus the core of the band rocking out is more cohesive and solid. This is tremendously apparent on their cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever” which comes across a bit disjointed — over-separated (if you will) — in stereo.

The mono mix of this recording sounds like a super tight band playing together live in the studio, which it probably was (despite some clever studio edits and production flourishes such as backwards guitar solos and the like).

The vinyl on this issue is remarkably quiet and perfectly centered.  This is especially impressive for such a spectacular colored vinyl release — these RSD reissues come on gorgeous multi color splatter / star burst splatter vinyl, in purple, pink, white and blue…

TomorrowLPIsolated225.jpgThe LP is probably 180-gram and was made in Europe — so for $20 you are getting a spiffy, high quality Euro pressing that looks as good as it sounds!

(For non-vinylphiles, Tomorrow is also available on CD and MP3 download.)

That aside, it ultimately comes down to the music an this album is no slouch, easily holding its own alongside period releases by the band’s peers (mentioned above).  That the record didn’t catch on with the public at the time is only a matter of history, and not representative of the music’s grandeur. There are always multiple reasons a record becomes a hit … or doesn’t! The good news is it is still here for all of us to discover and enjoy anew!

Listening to this now for the third time (I’m really diggin’ this one), what really gets me about this album is how hard it really rocks. This band had more in common with the Small Faces and the Move than, say, the Moody Blues. Tracks like “Real Life Permanent Dream” and “Revolution” are classic slices of British psychedelia, the former showcasing Steve Howe’s (probably Coral brand electric) sitar playing. You wouldn’t expect a tune like “Three Jolly Little Dwarfs” to rock out like it does, falling somewhere in the sunshiny spaces between the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” the Move’s “I Can Hear The Grass Grow,” Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” and perhaps the Easybeats’ “Friday on My Mind.”

I can just see the go-go dancers of the times bopping around to these tunes in London’s swingin’ underground clubs back in the day…

TomorrowLPspinning225.jpgSo there you have it: another fine slice of British psychedelic pop brought back to life from the vaults (courtesy of Warner Brothers recent acquisition of a part of the EMI catalog). If you like early  British rock, you really owe it to yourself to hear this. And of course if you are fan of Yes and guitarist Steve Howe, Tomorrow is essential listening.

Grab a copy of this beautiful limited-edition LP where, when and while you can ’cause … they may all be gone …

… wait for it…

… here it comes… 


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