DANTALIAN’S CHAR­IOT

Zoot’s psy­che­delic suit of many colours.

Prog - - Limelight - KN

Dantalian’s Char­iot were a text­book ex­am­ple of Bri­tish R&B vet­er­ans who, af­ter sud­denly find­ing them­selves old hat when caught in 1967’s psy­che­delic revo­lu­tion, traded their mo­hair suits for kaf­tans, wrote LSD an­thems and per­formed against eye-blast­ing liq­uid light shows.

In their pre­vi­ous life they had been Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, formed in 1961, re­leas­ing records and re­main­ing a hot ticket on the club cir­cuit. With psychedelia sweep­ing the UK by mid-1967, the band rein­vented them­selves, Zoot al­ready well-ac­quainted with Lon­don’s hip scene (his house was the un­known Hen­drix’s first stop af­ter land­ing at the air­port in Lon­don in 1966).

They took their new name from a 17th-cen­tury de­monology com­pen­dium and ac­quired a spec­tac­u­lar San

Fran­cisco light show for their de­but per­for­mance at 1967’s Na­tional Jazz and Blues Fes­ti­val de­but (wear­ing white to high­light its ef­fect). Dur­ing their short life, they re­leased one sin­gle, Mad­man Run­ning Through The Fields, in­spired by their col­lec­tive LSD ex­pe­ri­ences. They recorded enough mu­sic for an al­bum but were dropped by their record com­pany and split soon af­ter. This left their un­re­leased al­bum reimag­ined nearly 30 years later by Tenth Planet and now reis­sued by Cherry Red.

Lead­ing off with that fab­u­lous sin­gle, it re­veals a band gamely stab­bing at ’67 psych’s ro­tat­ing pig-on-a-spit, strad­dling psy­che­delic awak­en­ing in

Sun Came Burst­ing Through My Cloud, worka­day whimsy on Four Fire­man, sitar ra­gas (Soma parts one and two), ex­otic trav­el­ogues (This Is­land), fuzzy freak­beat on World War Three and a coun­ter­cul­ture call-to-arms with High Fly­ing Bird, ref­er­enc­ing San Fran­cisco.

Af­ter his Char­iot ran aground, Zoot joined Eric Bur­don’s An­i­mals while gui­tarist Andy Sum­mers struck gold play­ing with The Po­lice. Zoot’s ster­ling work as an over­looked R&B pi­o­neer is soon to be hon­oured with a box set but this brief psy­che­delic dab­ble shows how adeptly he coped with chang­ing times and re­mains a pe­riod clas­sic.

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