Release Info: Second Hand - Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Progressive Rock UK 1971)
Size: 92.5 MB
Ripped By: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster
Second Hand have been described as 'cult psychedelic heroes'; I can't find out anything about the core members before the band's formation, but keys man Ken Elliott and drummer Kieran O'Connor kept the band alive through several years and three albums, although the last of these, Chillum, was released under that name, for reasons now lost in the mists of time.
1968's Reality (Second Hand Reality, I suppose), is a typical late-ish period psych album, with all the usual influences, including the music-hall of Denis James The Clown and the rather overwrought balladry of The Bath Song (which reminds me of Simon Dupree, for some reason), amongst others. The album appears to be as good as dedicated to a gentleman by the name of Denis James (a friend? A fictional character?), with no fewer than three songs referencing him, including the sad tale of his untimely passing. Elliott gets plenty of MkII 'Tron onto the album, with flutes, strings and brass on opener A Fairy Tale, fairly heavy string use on Steam Tugs and a very upfront flute melody on Denis James (Ode To D.J.), distinctly different to the real flute to be heard in places. More strings and flutes in The Bath Song, including a 'Psycho'-style discordant string chord at one point, and finally more strings in the closing A Fairy Tale, a heavily-rearranged version of the album's opener. All in all, this is an excellent, rather overlooked psych gem from an undeservedly obscure outfit, with plenty of 'Tron to boot.
It took the band another three years to come up with the strangely-titled Death May Be Your Santa Claus, by which time, of course, the world (music and otherwise) had moved on noticeably. Second Hand's answer to this was to produce an odd little album of shortish material, not exactly psych, or prog, or mainstream pop/rock; not exactly anything, really, and all the better for it if you ask me. Saying that, it's not that fantastic an album, but it definitely has its moments (Revelations stands out particularly), despite being slightly uncohesive. I've no idea if Elliott had a new M400, or whether the old MkII was still in use, but he gets some strings in on all the highlighted tracks above, with some excellent pitchbend work on Hangin' On An Eyelid, and an odd, choppy flute part on Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Reprise), along with some brass (so is that the MkII?). Unfortunately, the two bonus tracks Elliott (presumably) has elected to add to the disc are largely a waste of time, and to add insult to injury, are stuck in the middle of the running order, rather than at the end, where you'd expect, and could easily flick the 'off' switch.
After splitting up acrimoniously after the Chillum album, Elliott and O'Connor eventually got back together as Seventh Wave, recording another two albums with minor 'Tron action in the mid-'70s before a final parting of the ways. Sadly, O'Connor has subsequently died, but Elliott continues to work in the business, playing sessions, as he did in the early' 70s. So; Reality is probably the better of the two albums, although if late-'60s psych isn't your bag, you're not going to like it, simple as that. Death May Be Your Santa Claus is odder, and possibly more adventurous, though I suspect it'll take rather more work to get into. Better 'Tron on the former than the latter, but not bad throughout.
02. Deatd May Be Your Santa Claus
03. Hangin' On An Eyelid
04. Lucifer And The Egg
05. Somethin' You Got
07. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
08. Revelations Ch. 16 Vs. 9-21
09. Take To The Skies
10. D.M.B.Y.S.C - Reprise
11. Dip it Out of the Bog Fredl [Bonus] - 1.37
12. Baby RU Anudder Monsterl [Bonus] - 3.22