Dr. Strangely Strange

Dr. Strangely Strange was an Irish folk–psych combo that released the 1969–70 albums Kip of the Serenes and Heavy Petting. Songs for a planned third album later appeared on the archival disc Halcyon Days.

Members: Tim Booth (vocals, guitar), Ivan Pawle (bass, keyboards), Tim Goulding (vocals, keyboards), Joe Thoma (fiddle, mandolin, 1980-present)


Formation

Dr. Strangely Strange originated in 1967 in Dublin, where singer–guitarist Tim Booth (b. Sept. 6, 1943, County Kildare, Ireland) formed a musical partnership with bassist–keyboardist Ian Pawle (b. Aug. 17, 1943, England).

They debuted live that October with future album-cover illustrator Humphrey Weightman as their temp guitarist. Keyboardist Brian Trench played third wheel until mid-1968 when they found a third member in Pawle’s roommate, multi-instrumentalist Tim Goulding (b. May 15, 1945). Percussionist–singer Caroline “Linus” Greville rounded out the first-recorded lineup.

Goulding dated Lower Mount Street landlord “Orphan Annie” Mohan, who rented out Orphanage rooms to Dr. Strangely Strange and other up-and-coming Irish rock musicians, including guitarist Gary Moore and bassist singer Phil Lynott (hence the name Orphange, Lynott’s first band, and the title Shades of a Blue Orphanage, the second album by his next band, Thin Lizzy). Moore sat in on Strangely Strange shows between commitments with Granny’s Intentions and Skid Row.


Kip of the Serenes

Dr. Strangely Strange released their debut album, Kip of the Serenes, in August 1969 on Island Records. It features three songs each by guitarist Tim Booth (“Roy Rogers,” “Tale of Two Orphanages,” “Donnybrook Fair”) and keyboardist Tim Goulding (“Dr. Dim & Dr. Strange,” “On the West Cork Hack,” “Ship of Fools”) and four by guitarist–bassist Ivan Pawle: “Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal,” “Dark-Haired Lady,” “Strings In the Earth and Air,” and “Frosty Mornings.”

Kip of the Serenes features eclectic secondary instrumentation by Pawle (fiddle, whistle), Booth (mandolin, ‘sazaphone’) and Goulding (harmonium, recorder, violin, stylaphone). Booth plays the idiophone, a thumb piano also played by Linus. Goulding shares the glockenspiel with photographer Jay Myrdal, who plays on “Dr. Dim,” “Ship of Fools,” and “Frosty Mornings.”

A1. “Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal” (4:28)
A2. “Dr. Dim & Dr. Strange” (7:33)
A3. “Roy Rogers” (5:37)
A4. “Dark-Haired Lady” (4:25)
A5. “On the West Cork Hack” (2:32)
B1. “Tale of Two Orphanages” (3:49)
B2. “Strings In the Earth and Air” (1:52)
B3. “Ship of Fools” (6:18)
B4. “Frosty Mornings” (3:59)
B5. “Donnybrook Fair” (8:48)

Elektra UK founder Joe Boyd produced Kip of the Serenes in sequence with 1969 titles by Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, and the fifth Incredible String Band album Changing Horses, which features Pawle as a musical guest. Olympic soundman Victor Gamm engineered Kip amid concurrent projects by The Deviants, The Humblebums, and Synanthesia.

Orphan Annie took the cover photo to Kip of the Serenes, which shows Dr. Strangely Strange engaged in a waterside jam, decked in hippie regalia. The back cover has an illustration of a cannon-shooting, pirated mast ship, afloat in shark-infested waters with a Cunard Liner in pursuit.

Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal” closes Nice Enough to Eat, a 1969 Island compilation with cuts by Spooky Tooth (“Better by You, Better Than Me”), Jethro Tull (“We Used to Know”), Free (“Woman”), Heavy Jelly (“I Keep Singing That Same Old Song”), Blodwyn Pig (“Sing Me a Song That I Know”), Traffic (“Forty Thousand Headmen”), King Crimson (“21st Century Schizoid Man”), Mott the Hoople (“At the Crossroads”), and Quintessence (“Gungamai”).


Heavy Petting

Dr. Strangely Strange released their second album, Heavy Petting, in October 1970 on Vertigo. It features three songs each by Goulding (“Ballad of the Wasps,” “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes,” “Mary Malone of Moscow”) and Booth (“Summer Breeze,” “Gave My Love an Apple,” “Ashling”). Pawle wrote “Kilmanoyadd Stomp,” “Sign On My Mind,” “Jove Was at Home,” “When Adam Delved,” and “Goodnight My Friends.”

Gary Moore plays guest guitar on “Summer Breeze,” “Sign On My Mind,” “Gave My Love an Apple,” and “Mary Malone of Moscow,” all with Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks, who also plays on “Ballad of the Wasps,” “Kilmanoyadd Stomp,” and “When Adam Delved.”

1. “Ballad of the Wasps” (3:23) features Johnny Moynihan of Sweeney’s Men on the bouzouki, a Greek long-necked lute.
2. “Summer Breeze” (3:39)
3. “Kilmanoyadd Stomp” (2:44)
4. “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes” (1:55)
5. “Sign On My Mind” (8:26)
6. “Gave My Love an Apple” (6:07)
7. “Jove Was at Home” (2:37)
8. “When Adam Delved” (2:11)
9. “Ashling” (4:42)
10. “Mary Malone of Moscow” (3:55)
11. “Goodnight My Friends” (1:50)

Sessions took place in Dublin (Eamonn Andrews Studios) and London (Sound Techniques) with Joe Boyd, who produced Heavy Petting amid titles by Nico, John & Beverly Martyn, Fairport, and Sandy Denny‘s break-off band Fotheringay. Budding soundman Roger Mayer engineered petting in sequence with 1970–71 albums by CMU, Gerry Rafferty, Steeleye Span, Mick Softley, Mike Heron, and Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath.

Heavy Petting is housed in a die-cut gimmix cover with flaps on each side that wrap along the front and back. When open, the three members of Dr. Strangely Strange appear half-visible amid bright greenery. Once closed, all but their heads are buried in denser green. The inner-back flaps have mirrored silhouettes of human–tree hybrids. Along with 1970 covers for Clear Blue Sky, Junco Partners, Nucleus, and the earlier debut by Gun, Heavy Petting is an early credit for illustrator Roger Dean, later famed for his fantasy world covers to albums by Yes, Osibisa, Uriah Heep, and Greenslade.

“Summer Breeze” appears on The Vertigo Annual 1970, a two-record label sampler with cuts by Affinity, Black Sabbath, Colosseum, Cressida, Fairfield Parlour, Gracious, Jimmy Campbell, Juicy Lucy, Magna Carta, Manfred Mann Chapter Three, May Blitz, and Rod Stewart.


Final Activity

Dr. Strangely Strange toured Heavy Petting with (future Sutherland Brothers) drummer Neil Hopwood. In early 1971, Goulding retreated to the Samye Ling Buddhist monastery. He later achieved world renown as an abstract expressionist painter.

Pawle and Booth embarked on a six-week European tour with the Woods Band couple Gay and Terry Woods. Dr. Strangely Strange played their final show in May 1971 as part of a London double-bill with Al Stewart at Drury Lane Theatre.

In 2007, archivists Hux Records issued Halcyon Days, a collection of thirteen unreleased 1969–70 Dr. Strangely Strange songs.


Discography:

  • Kip of the Serenes (1969)
  • Heavy Petting (1970)
  • Halcyon Days (2007, recorded 1971)

Sources:

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