The Mystery Dance 45: Adam & Dee and a "Question of Childhood"

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testpressingWe do judge proverbially by covers and sleeves, be it books, records, or even people. Second chances at first impressions aren't given, to burden a cliché. However, if that luxury is lost or, in this case, most likely never was, then one must use consideration over initial instinct. The characterless forward sloping scrawl on both sides of this rather battered test pressing betrays little, merely "Question of Childhood" with an "A," "Run to Her" adorned with a "B" plus the names "Adam and Dee."

With the press-out center it has all the appearances of being English, but when the needle hits the crackling plastic, the song is pure West Coast American Psychedelia and bears little indication of being a British pastiche. After a baroque acoustic guitar riff intro, Dee sings, "Tell the world this is Jackie's day off/She is gone without a sound." Her voice is pure Grace Slick, rich and full of emotional intensity. The song builds with eerie '60s electric organ and marching band drums. A vocal break a la The Mamas and the Papas ensues; the whole affair builds to a dizzying and bombastic climax before resolving itself with the original guitar riff and organ-accompanied demise. A cheap production this ain't. The song has elements of an excerpt from A Teenage Opera, but with greater conviction and better acid. It is quite an exhausting but inspired piece, and sounds like it dates from 1967.

Turn the record over and the more restrained, swirling piece of electric folk "Run to Her" is a melodic treat, less of a frenetic, white-knuckle ride. Dee, as the spurned lover, tells her errant beau, "If you really love/I won't stand in your way/If you decide to go" over a churning bed of "White Rabbit"-sounding instrumentation. Both sides are amazingly accomplished and would rest well on any Nuggets compilation.

Initially I surmised that it might have been released under a different moniker, as searches on www.Gemm.com via artist revealed nothing. Adam and Dee do not crop up. Other variations resulted in the same, as did numerous web attempts. The matrix number DP 002 rang no bells either, but I imagine somewhere, someone knows why Jackie left, and who Adam and Dee were.

Finding the disc was pure luck and serendipity. A friend managed a charity shop and was very particular about condition, being sick of people returning buggered records. I wandered in one day and noticed he was about to bin a lone single he'd extracted from a bag of clothes. Recognizing it as a test pressing, I asked to look. He said if I wanted it to take it away; it was too scratched to bother with. Even I didn't think it was promising discovery, guessing an ageing cabaret duo, bow-tied, sequined, and singing poor country songs. Something they'd paid for themselves in order to sell at their lackluster gigs.

Being proved wrong can have unusual rewards. Anticipate pure cheese and get psychedelia; a more than perfect outcome for the curious cannot be imagined. Ten years later I remain bemused and would like to share the condition, in order to facilitate a cure. - Robert Cochrane

cochrane.jpgMr. Cochrane is a poet and writer living in Manchester, England. His work has appeared in Mojo, Attitude, and Dazed & Confused. He has published three collections of poems, and is presently completing Gone Tomorrow, a biography of the rock singer Jobriath, which will appear via SAF in 2007.