Exposé Online banner

The Merchants of Dream — Strange Night Voyage
(Tune In 006, 1969/2011, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-17

Strange Night Voyage Cover artBlame it on The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper’s. In the wake of that landmark concept album, everybody and their brother was trying to get in on the concept album thing, from The Beach Boys to The Moody Blues, The Who and even Frank Zappa. The Merchants of Dream are one of the also-rans that attempted to reach for that golden ring, producing a psychedelic children’s concept album in 1968 based on the story of Peter Pan. Actually, The Merchants of Dream was the brainchild of songwriter Jack Murphy, who along with the support of producers Vinny Testa and Shadow Morton, assembled a six-piece band (including himself on keyboards and vocals) to bring the concept to life. Unfortunately, the record deal they got with A&M didn’t help much, as the record got no support from the label and sank like a stone. I found my LP copy in a cutout bin less than six months after its release. That said, the songwriting here is positively brilliant, with arrangements that mix multi-part vocal harmonies, the pop sounds of the day (think The Association or similar sunshine pop proponents), orchestrated show tunes, psychedelic rock and much more. Each side of the original LP began with an overture that contained short instrumental sections of each of the songs on its respective album side, and each side closed with an overtly psychedelic cut (“Lovelife’s Purple Circus” and “(We Are) Dream Vendors” respectively). The fourteen tracks are nothing if not ambitious, and at times when the harmonies get complex (title track case in point), they are clearly in over their heads. Still, an easily overlooked flaw when considering the totality of the project. Songs like “Dorothy the Fairy Queen,” “My Magic Boat,” “Alicey,” “Sing Me Life,” and “Jolly Roger Doldrums” are positively contagious and seriously fun. “When You’re Pushin’ Six” pulls out a folksy John Sebastian style to accompany the first-hand tribulations of a kid who is about to turn six! Overall, an excellent album that, perhaps by the time it was finally completed and released in early ’69, had just missed the whimsy and fun of late sixties pop as styles were morphing.

Filed under: , 2011 releases, 1969 recordings

Related artist(s): The Merchants of Dream

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Haze - In the End: 1978 - 1988 – In the End: 1978-1988 is a compilation of various tracks that chronicle the 10 year existence of one the more undeservedly obscure UK progressive bands. In their early days, the band suffered from...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues