The Chemistry Set (British band)

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The Chemistry Set
Origin London
Genres Neo-psychedelia
Years active 1988 (1988)–present
Labels Current:Dead Bees records Fruits de Mer Records, Tsunami Music, Hypnote. Past: Imaginary, Romilar-d, Munster,Bucketfull of Brains Acid Tapes
Website facebook.com/thechemistrysetuk
Members Paul Lake
David Mclean

The Chemistry Set are a cult London psychedelic band. Composed of veterans of the late 1980s neo-psychedelic boom, the group received regular airplay on John Peel's show, were covered in the mainstream and underground music press and appeared on Tony Wilson's BBC2 television show, 100%.

The original line up consisted of Ashley Wood (rhythm guitar/vocals), Paul Lake (lead guitar/vocals), Henry Taprell (bass) and Dave McLean (drums/vocals) with Neil Pond (Harmonica and percussion) joining them both onstage and in the studio. Wood and Lake had previously played in school bands for a number of years having met at secondary school in south east London.

Their first official release was in 1988, an eponymous cassette of bedroom demos, released on the Acid Tapes label. This was followed by several flexi discs between 1988 and 1990, in which the band received an international fan base. The Chemistry Set were being featured in fanzines in the UK, Spain, Italy, Holland, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Japan, USA and Australia and New Zealand. Tracks also appeared on compilation LP's in the UK, Spain & Germany.

The band started out on the London gig circuit, playing venues such as The Camden Falcon; Covent Garden's 'The Rock Garden' and The Mean Fiddler, and building a loyal regular fan base in the capital. Later they would tour throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. Highlights included playing the CMJ Festival in New York, Brixton Academy with Hawkwind and touring with Robyn Hitchcock, plus regular gigs at London venues like the Rough Trade record shop, The Marquee and The Borderline.

1990–91 saw Imaginary Records release two 12" EP singles (also issued on CD) in the UK. "Don't Turn Away" (Drummond/Wood) broke into the UK Indie Top 20 whilst its follow "The Candle Burns" (Wood) appeared the following year.

Chart success came with a Spanish release of "Don't Turn Away" which made the national Top 20, giving the band a totally new audience. Their 'lost' album of this period, 'Sounds Like Painting', was issued exclusively in Spain (by Romilard.) Of the ten tracks, all were original compositions (predominantly by Wood) apart from a cover of Love's 'A House is Not a Motel', sung by McLean.

Following the departure of bassist Henry Taprell, and songwriter/vocalist Ashley Wood, the group recruited new members though no new material was released. Following a long hiatus Paul Lake and Dave Mclean reappeared in 2008, releasing their 1989 album "Sounds Like Painting", which was uploaded onto various blogs and downloaded over 8,000 times.

In Spain, their music has appeared on twelve radio stations including Disco Grande, Spain's most important national indie radio station. The Chemistry Set's previous success in the country preceded its return to DJ Gato, one of the most important indie club DJs in Spain. One of Spain's producers Manel Ibanez approached the band to produce their new mini-LP, "Alchemy#101". Lake and Mclean (along with a little help from some musical friends) recorded and mixed the mini album in a studio on an island in the middle of the River Thames using vintage instruments (including Farfisas & Mellotrons) but record it to pro-tools to get a great mix of vintage and modern sounds. The music is then mixed and produced in Barcelona by Ibanez.

The Chemistry Set say they release EPs to maintain high quality control and consistency that is not always achieved in full-length releases. On each EP there is a French version of a song ("Regarde Le Ciel" was recorded in French by a singer from Barcelona, Suzette de la grace Faberge, a member of the critically acclaimed indie-pop band Les Tres Bien Ensemble) and an obscure cover. On this EP, the Del Shannon cover comes from his obscure 1968 LP "The Further Adventures of Charles Westover"(Shannon's real name). This LP sounds like Del's version of "Forever Changes", and Arthur Lee & Love are one of The Chemistry Set's biggest influences.

The Chemistry Set experiment and adds twists to their music. Their covers include a cover inside a cover. Their version of "See Emily Play" (for the Syd Barrett tribute "Beyond the Wildwood") has a section of "Bicycle Rider" from The Beach Boys' Smile inserted the middle. Cult Arranger/songwriter [and former Electric Prunes member] David Axelrod digs The (New) Chemistry Set, saying "Real Music! Music that makes you think and really listen to!" He loved how they added a symphonic section of his song "Sanctus" from The Electric Prunes' masterwork "Mass in F Minor" into their reworking of Del Shannon's "Silver Birch" (featured on the 2011 Fruits de Mer comp "A phase were going through"). Cover art is very important to the band and they work with a young Barcelona photographer and designer Blanca Viñas.

In 2011 the boys took to the stage for the first time in 20 years, augmented by musical friends from Spain (including DJ "Gato"). It brought a whole new dimension to their psychedelic-pop, with even more electronics than the Mellotrons and Farfisas that Chemistry Set fans might be accustomed to. Using instruments and methods old and new, acoustic, electric and electronic, they have been a surprise at European sumemr festivals and festival goers enjoyed the extraordinary spectacle of the visual work of VJ Matrona that accompanies the band, who has made installations and visuals in clubs and galleries in New York, London, Barcelona and Buenos Aires, she brings her exquisite modern psychedelic imagery in a nod to atmosphere of UFO club in London in the 1960s

Since the return, the second stage of the group has seen the birth of 3 new EP's/CDs: “Alchemy # 101”, “This Day Will Never Happen Again and “Chemistry is Just Numbers” that have gained good reviews and radio play plus numerous contributions to international compilations including a remix of their version of “See Emily Play” on the 3-CD box set tribute to Pink Floyd; "The Many Faces Of Pink Floyd". The boys have recorded 3 vinyl singles for Fruits de Mer records and have just recorded their 4th, “Elapsed Memories” that will be released in November 2014.

The Sunday Times recently said of The Chemistry Set "The Psychedelic scientists exquisite English Toytown Acid-Pop songs achieve rare combinations of muscle and melody”

Discography[edit]

1. The Chemistry Set (s/t) Demos. Acid Tapes, TAB 044, Cassette only 2/89 Tracks: The Rainbow Song, Dreams That I Saw Yesterday, Under The Valley, I Can See You, These Are Like Castles, Minas Tirith, Sittin' On Top Of The World, As Jane Arrived, You Make Me Feel Like I’m Sublime

2. Sounds Like Painting Unreleased LP Recorded 2/89 Tracks: Some People Never Learn, The Candleburns, The Look Inside, Acacia Gardens, Sittin’ on Top of the World, Orange Juice Sun, Living Alone, The Dreams That I Saw Yesterday, Minas Tirith, Under The Valley

3. Under The Valley (compilation) Acid Tapes, TAB 047, Cassette only. 4/89 Track: Under The Valley, taken from the above “Acid Tapes”

4. Unhinged Magazine (Flexidisc) Unhinged Records, CTU 002 4/89 Track: (Don’t) Turn Away (Brixton version)

5. Bucketful of Brains (Flexidisc) BOB 29 5/89 Track: Some People Never Learn (from the unreleased “Sounds Like Painting” LP)

6. Freakbeat (Flexidisc) Ayahuasca Records, Vine 2 6/89 Tracks: It’s Alright (later re-titled “Wow Stars Man) Gibraltan Rock, I’m All The Time (all 3 songs were re-recorded for the “Wake Up Sometime” LP)

7. The Bizarre Beauties 2 (compilation) Fab Records Germany, L013 7/89 Track: Minas Tirith (the version is from the London Bridge Demo’s, not the “Sounds Like Painting” version)

8. Sound Affects (Flexidisc) Sounds Affects Magazine, Sweden 8/89 Track: The Candleburns (from the unreleased “Sounds Like Painting” LP)

9. (Don’t) Turn Away #2/Wake Up Sometimes, (Double ‘A’ Sided 12” Single) Romilar-D Records, Spain, 026 3/90 Tracks: (Don’t) Turn Away #2, Wake Up Sometimes

10. Wake Up Sometime (LP/CD) Romilar-D Records, Spain, (vinyl 027, cd CD027) 4/90 Tracks: A Dream of Murder, Wiped Out and Nothing Comes Together Gibraltan Rock #2, By This Act of Judgement, I’m All The Time #2, Ensemble Du Bois, Wow! Stars Man #2, A House is Not a Motel (Don’t) Turn Away #2, Wake Up Sometimes (CD only)

11. The “Madrid” EP Unreleased Recorded 4/90 Tracks: Strange Thing, Escalation, Some People Never Learn #2 The Candleburns#2

12. Dance Hall Favourites Volume III (La Herencia de Los Munster compilation) (12” Vinyl) Munster Records, Spain, Vinyl only, MR003 6/90 Track: Sittin’ On Top Of The World (from the unreleased “Sounds Like Painting” LP)

13. Beyond The Wildwood – A Tribute To Syd Barrett (compilation) (12” Vinyl & CD) Imaginary Records, ILLCD 100 9/90 Track: See Emily Play

14. Time Will Show The Wiser – Bucketful of Brains (compilation) (CD) Triad Records, TRICD 001 9/90 Track: Wake Up Sometimes (same version as Spanish LP but different mastering)

15. (Don’t) Turn Away EP (12” & CD) Imaginary Records, Mirage 26 12/90 Tracks: (Don’t) Turn Away #3, Pure Land, I Don’t Need You, Telephone (CD only)

16. Bucketful of Brains EP (7” vinyl) BOB31 05/91 Track: Telephone

17. The Candleburns EP (12” & CD) Imaginary Records, Mirage 30 4/05/91 Tracks: The Candleburns #3, The Long Arm Of The Liar, Sittin’ On Top Of The World #2, Increased Sensitivity (CD only)

18. Alchemy#101 (CD) Skittlebrau Records, S002 04/09 Tracks: She’s Taking Me Down, Seeing Upside Down, Look To The Sky, If Rome Was Meant To Fall, Silver Birch, Regarde Le Ciel

19. Your Psychedelic Dreams Vol 5 (download) YD23 05/09 Track: Look To The Sky (alternative version)

20. Dead Bees #8 Compilation (France) (CD) Dead Bees records DB07 05/09 Track: Regarde Le Ciel

21. She’s Taking Me Down (CD single) (Spain) Note 3 different releases with different cover art Tsunami Records TSUCD028 11/09 Tracks: She’s Taking me Down (extended remix), She’s Taking me Down (radio edit), She’s Taking me Down (original version remastered), La Logica del Canvi (previously unreleased)

22. Razzmatazz 2009 compilation (CD) Tsunami Records TSUCD034 12/09 Track: She’s Taking Me Down

23. “It’s a phase were going through” vinyl compilation Fruit de mer records Vol 17 June 2010 Track: Silver Birch (phased remix)

24. “This day will never happen again” FRENCH RELEASE (CD) Dead Bees records, France DB07 July 2010 Tracks: El Retorno, Sheer Tazer Luv, The World is Hollow and I Touched The Sky, She’s Taking Me Down, Silver Birch, This Day Will Never Happen Again, Seeing Upside Down, Look To The Sky, If Rome Was Meant To Fall, We Live As We Dream….Alone, We Luv You. Bonus Tracks: Sheer Tazer Luv (Spanish), Regarde Le Ciel, La Logica Del Canvi

25. “This day will never happen again” SPANISH RELEASE (CD) Tsunami Music, Spain TSUCD014 July 2010 Tracks: El Retorno, Sheer Tazer Luv, The World is Hollow and I Touched The Sky, She’s Taking Me Down, Silver Birch, This Day Will Never Happen Again, Seeing Upside Down, Look To The Sky, If Rome Was Meant To Fall, We Live As We Dream….Alone, We Luv You. Bonus Tracks: Sheer Tazer Luv (Spanish), Regarde Le Ciel, La Logica Del Canvi

26. “A phase we’ve been through” compilation (CD) Fruits de Mer records December 2010 FDM17 Track: The World is Hollow and I Touched The Sky (remix)

27. “This day will never happen again” USA RELEASE with extra track (CD AND Digital) Hypnote records, USA Hypnote4 January 2011 Tracks: El Retorno, Sheer Tazer Luv, The World is Hollow and I Touched The Sky, She’s Taking Me Down, Silver Birch, This Day Will Never Happen Again, Seeing Upside Down, Look To The Sky, If Rome Was Meant To Fall, We Live As We Dream….Alone, We Luv You. Bonus Tracks: Sheer Tazer Luv (Spanish), Regarde Le Ciel, La Logica Del Canvi, She’s Taking Me Down (long versión remix)

28. Go-Mag CD compilation (Spain) Go-Mag Issue 116 Feb 2011 Track: The World Is Hollow And I Touched The Sky (DJ Gato remix)

29. Dead Bees sampler #10 (France) Dead Bees DB10 April 2011 Track: The World Is Hollow And I Touched The Sky (Gato Team re-work)

30. Impossible Love (7” vinyl single) Fruits de mer records Regal Crabomophone 1 May 2011 Tracks: A side: Impossible Love. B side: We Luv You

31. “Chemistry Is Just Numbers” (CD) Tsunami Music Spain TSUCD037 Jan 2012 Impossible Love (remix), She’s Taking Me Down (remix), That Day Just Happened Again (Live Remix), Sheer Tazer Luv (remix), Rome (remix), The World Is Hollow (remix), We Luv U (remix) Don’t Turn Away (Live remix)

32. Time To Breathe / Come Kiss Me Vibrate and Smile (7” vinyl single) Fruits de mer records Regal Crabomophone winkle 8 October 2012 Tracks: Double A side: Come Kiss Me Vibrate / Time To Breathe B side: Hallucinations

33. “The crabs freak out” compilation (CD) Fruits de Mer records Crustacean 37 December 2012 Track: Concert intro

34. Time To Breathe / Come Kiss Me Vibrate and Smile (digital) Dead Bees DBE04 Jan 2013 Tracks: Come Kiss Me Vibrate / Time To Breathe / Hallucinations

35. She’s Taking Me Down (download) The Psychedelic Underground Generation Volume 4 January 2013

36. Dead Bees sampler #11 (France) (CD) Dead Bees DB11 July 2013 Track: Impossible Love (Gato Team remix)

37. Plankton (record collector compilation 12” vinyl) Record collector records RC08 August 2013 Tracks: Silver Birch (remastered)

38. The Many Faces Of Pink Floyd (compilation) (3-CD Box Set) Music Brokers B00CIJZD5S November 2013 Tracks: See Emily Play (Remix)

39. Dead Bees sampler #12 (France) (CD) Dead Bees DB12 May 2014 Tracks: Come Kiss Me Vibrate And Smile

40. 7&7 is (7” vinyl Box Set) Fruits de Mer records FDM 51–57 September 2014 Tracks: Live & Let Live, A House Is Not A Motel

41. Elapsed Memories / A Cure For The Inflicted Inflicted (7” Vinyl Single) Fruits de Mer records Winkle 18 November 2014 Tracks: Elapsed Memories / A Cure For The Inflicted Afflicted / Love Or Confusion

External links[edit]