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Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (Rare Psychedelic Rock UK 1970)

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Genre - Rock

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Code - OD-K-107582

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Source: Japan 24-Bit remaster

Best known for their sublime debut single “Father’s Name is Dad,” this psychedelic trio from Middlesex, England went on to record for Pye Records an interesting concept album which proved that “Father’s Name is Dad” certainly didn’t represent the limit of the band’s capabilities.  The Magic Shoemaker, released in the late summer of 1970, tells the story of a cobbler named Mark who makes a pair of shoes that allow whoever puts them on to fly.  Meanwhile, the kingdom Mark lives in is on the brink of war with a neighboring nation, so Mark takes the shoes to his good King William, who uses them to travel to the nearby kingdom and stop the impending war.  Mark is then celebrated across the land as a hero.  Although the story is a simple one, that is probably precisely what makes The Magic Shoemaker unique, at least by the standards of 1970.  

The CD liner notes rightly point out that The Magic Shoemaker is much more akin to Nirvana’s The Story of Simon Simopath album than it is to, say, the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow.  The story of The Magic Shoemaker is simply a fairytale, free of the depth, complexity, and pretensions which grew to typify concept albums as the art form gained popularity during the late 60s.  Indeed, The Magic Shoemaker is one of the relatively few concept albums to be released after the decade had closed.  Possibly, the Who’s Tommy was thought of as simply too difficult an act to follow.  The reason, then, that The Magic Shoemaker seems such an artistic success is simply that its premise is neither complex nor imitative.  It’s not an epic and it’s not a rock opera; it is simply a collection of fine rock songs which tell a story.  Stylistically—as might be expected for 1970—the album finds itself in a period of transition from psychedelia to progressive rock.  

It is clear, however, that the band itself is not particularly married to any genre, and thus, the resulting album is simply very artful, melodic, and utterly listenable.  As such, it presents neither the clichés of psychedelia nor the pretension of prog rock.  Although all the songs on the album are good, there are some standouts, including the introductory “Tell You a Story,” the beautiful, melodic “Only a Dream,” and the energetic rocker “Flies Like a Bird.”  The recent CD reissue on the Sanctuary label is quite nice, and features the original LP notes as well as new liner notes and photos.  It’s part of a new series from Sanctuary called “Psychedelic Pstones,” which has released several other interesting CDs by other UK psych bands like Blond on Blond and Velvet Fogg.The Magic Shoemaker is a very good album. Definitely recommended.

01. Children Of Imagination  
02. Tell You A Story  
03. Magic Shoes  
04. Reason For Everything  
05. Only A Dream  
06. Flies Like A Bird  
07. Like To Help You If I Can  
08. I Can See The Sky  
09. Shoemaker  
10. Happy Man Am I  
11. Children Of Imagination

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