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Dr. Strangely Strange — Radio Sessions
(Think Like a Key, 1971/2022, CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2022-09-27

Radio Sessions Cover art

Ireland’s answer to the Incredible String Band, Dr. Strangely Strange, arose out of two Dublin communal houses in the late 60s. Their odd name was the result of combining a favorite saying of one of their friends, “strangely strange but oddly not,” and their fascination with the Marvel comic character Dr. Strange. Dr. Strangely Strange lasted long enough (disbanding in 1971) to release two albums:  Kip of the Serenes (1969) and Heavy Petting (1970). A third album surfaced in 1997, Alternative Medicine - The Difficult Third Album. And then in 2007 they reunited and played a concert to mark the launch of their archival collection Halcyon Days. Now Think Like a Key has pulled together ten live tracks from different sources for Radio Sessions, with cover art repurposed from Heavy Petting. So what we have are two versions of “Sign on My Mind” from Heavy Petting, a rehearsal from April 1, 1970 and another from Danish radio on April 30, 1971. The rehearsal is much better than the radio show, where the band is clowning around a bit before they get down to playing. The sound quality is good for 1970, though slightly muffled.  There are two songs from the Top Gear show recorded on June 6, 1970: “Ashling” and “Mary Malone of Moscow,” both originally from Heavy Petting. Unfortunately the recording quality is poor at best, making the listening experience quite annoying. Five songs come from a concert recorded on November 1, 1970:  “Frosty Mornings,” “Horse of a Different Hue,” “On the West Cork Hack,” “Ballad of the Wasps,” and “Sweet Red Rape.”  Now “Sweet Red Rape” does not refer to sexual assault, but instead red rape is bird seed. The sound quality is better, but then John Peel is always inserting himself between the songs, which I find distracting. On April 9, 1971 the band performed “Gave My Love an Apple,” another song from Heavy Petting, on Dutch radio, and the sound quality on this song may be the best on the album. The disc closes with 90 seconds of an interview on Danish radio with a lot of band chatter about their origin. Radio Sessions is definitely an album for fans and completists, but not the place for newbies to explore their music. Instead seek out their early studio albums.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases, 1971 recordings

Related artist(s): Dr. Strangely Strange


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