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Quatermass and the Kinks
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Some time ago, Mary pointed me to an article in the Guardian about a new, live BBC version of the sf series Quatermass . She said she'd watched the original in the fifties. Apparently it was pretty weird for the era. The announcer introduced the show with the warning that "the following program may not suitable for viewers of a nervous disposition" and the kids all hitched their chairs closer to the screen.

Living in the U.S., I never saw the series or knew of its existence until a few years ago. So in 1970, when I saw the band Quatermass open a concert at the Fillmore East for Love and the Kinks, not only was the musical group unknown to me but so was the origin of its name.

While in an interview, bassist John Gustafson said, "’s just a surname, a name, a person’s name, like Smith or something," I believe the unsubstantiated reports I've read that the name was derived from the tv series. The surreal, pterodactyl dominated cover of the only album indicates sfnal tendencies.

I was more perplexed than enthused by Quatermass. Like Love, the band was just something to sit through before I got to see my heros, the Kinks. If I'd known about founder Gustafson's impeccable Liverpool lineage (as a member of Cas and the Casanovas, The Big Three and The Merseybeats) I would've paid better attention, but, alas, the internet and its endless supply of trivia was still decades in the future.

My only remaining impression is of an electric organ filling the darkened theater with a swirling, roaring, rush of sound, as if I were sitting at the base of an amplified waterfall. All the while pulsing, spinning amoebas of light whirled around the walls and sent luminous pseudopods slithering over the stage and audience, in what passed for a lightshow back before lasers.

I feel bad that I can't recall a single song, especially since seeing the band live was a notable event. They only were together a year and did a single American tour. However, I also don't remember anything that Love played, or even the Kinks' set. Which is probably due less to my poor memory than to the thick cannabis fog that rolled in before the music even began. Or maybe I just was just suffering from a bad case of amoebic psychadelia.

Well, I do recall one song. The Kinks' final encore, when Ray sat by himself on a stool, with -- I swear -- a ukulele, doing an impression of George Formby, singing "You Are My Sunshine."

This then is my sole musical recollection from a great concert, featuring legendary sixties bands, in a practically mythical venue -- a schmaltzy country music ditty written by a southern politician.

That's got to be weirder than Quatermass.

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