The Skeleton and the Roundabout
Happy Birthday (Instrumental)
I Like My Toys
The Morning Sunshine
Follow Me Follow
Sitting In My Tree
On With The Show
Pie In The Sky
The Lady Who Said She Could Fly
End Of The Road
'The Birthday Party'
click here for photo's of the lads
in swinging London circa
'The Birthday Party era.'
UK / Liberty / LBS 831 32E (stereo) 1968
US / Liberty / LST-7603 (stereo) 1968
UK Reissue / Sunset Records / SLS 50381 (stereo) 1976
Produced & Engineered by Eddie Offord, Gerald Chevin
& The Idle Race
Strings on "Follow Me Follow" & "The Lady Who Said She Could Fly"
arranged by Cy Payne
(see lyric pages for songwriting credits)
Released October 1968
After almost half a year in the making, The Birthday Party was released in the UK during October 1968 and was one of the first albums to be housed in a gatefold sleeve (the first of course was by the Beatles). Jeff, Greg, Dave and Roger lounge rather dapperly around an oversized invitation asking one and all to come to their first birthday party.
click on the party above
Opening the gatefold you discover a Sgt. Pepperesque montage consisting of a multitude of distinguished and rather influential musical party guests awaiting your arrival... You are the guest of honour, but boy, this is one great promotional ploy by the record company!
The US release sports a slightly different sleeve, with the Brummie references on the invitation being dropped and replaced by a strange surrealistic collage which has our lads from Brum floating on balloons amidst a rather unappetising looking cake!
The US cover is also wallpapered in a delightful (not!) paisley pattern. The reverse gives track listings with incorrect timings and rather bizarre sleeve notes by a John Paul Shoptaw (are you out there?).
Whereas the UK Party lp was issued in both mono and stereo formats, the US version only appeared in stereo, although the track "Sitting In My Tree" is a mono mix.
The Birthday Party should be declared a national treasure because in its rather ballistically, insane way it sounds so very English! It's very hard to explain to those who were not raised in post war (up to mid seventies) England what Englishness is...
Sunday roasts, Yorkshire pudding, fairgrounds, fish and chips, Morcambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies, Dr. Who, Thunderbirds, Match of the Day, colliery bands, Saturday morning pictures (The ABC Club), a pint, the Queen, Hovis bread, Bovril, cold misty Winter mornings, Guy Fawkes night, bramble picking, garden allotments, pigeons, the rag and bone man etc etc etc...
Melodically etched with thirteen songs, that on first hearing sound whimsical but hidden beneath the surface bubble macabre overtones (check out the lyrics!). The Birthday Party paints strange and disturbing landscapes and fills them with amusingfully offbeat characters...
Drummer, Roger Spencer has since refered to it as *Rupert Bear music!!!
All this in an album that only lasts a mere thirty one minutes! Several months before the release of the album, six of the constituant tracks had already appeared as either 'A' or 'B' sides!
*When in the Idle Race, Jeff had a guitar on which the furry one was adorned, someone (probably Paul McCartney) nicked it!
The album was recorded at Advision Studios in London and produced by Eddie Offord and Gerald 'Peanuts' Chevin on Sundays! This is where the Move had just recorded their first self titled album where Offord and Chevin had been the sound engineers. It's at this point where everything seemed to fall into place with Roy Wood being the link in the chain...
Roy managed to convince Eddie and Gerald to see the Idle Race at the Cedar Club and it was soon after, that they offered to help the Idle Race record their debut album.
Advision gave their engineers weekends to experiment and practice new recording techniques and so on the advice of their friend Roy Wood, the Idle Race took up the offer from Mr. Offord and Chevin. Driving down the motorway to London, they acted as willing guinea pigs and in the process recorded their first album! They were in fact in an envious position of getting more studio time than most new bands could only dream of!
During this time, Jeff's fondness for the recording studio must have been growing stronger with every trip down the M1. Before this he would of spent hours locked away in his parents front room with his primitive recording equipment, guitars, amplifiers and such, experimenting like a mad scientist!
To Jeff, it must of felt like Christmas every Sunday during the recording of that very first album and handful of singles that preceeded it.
Eddie Offord and Gerald 'Peanuts' Chevin must be congratulated as the Birthday Party album is fully of creative editing, short samples and sound effects which compliment the bizzare nature of the subject material! The enthusiasm they showed at the time obviously rubbed off...
Jeff was suitably impressed, and when the time came to record the second album, he began his career as a producer.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
IDLE RACE (self titled album)
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