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fromheadtoheart flag Norway - Full Moon 222 - 10/08/14

From head to heart
Dog Age's Good Day

Following our retroscope series of latter years, here we go again! Here's Speakers' corner's cousin; From head to heart. Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves'n'vaults of pop'n'rock. Blowing our ears and our head, punching our chest and shaking our heart. Making us go sentimental, but not slaphappy. This moonth we present a retroscope double! This Lunar space/time vessel spins 25 years back in reverse, to listen to a 25-year old Norwegian platter. Here's...kings of the dog age, the princes of Norway's pop sike of 1989 (through the 60s styled kitchen machine).

coverpicDog Age
Good Day
Voices Of Wonder

A few weeks ago I walked on a sandy path in a park in Oslo listening to the opening track "The Sun" of the debut album by Dog Age. I had to check out if Good Day was worth revisiting for our Head To Heart column 25 years after its release. While vocalist Jørn sang 'I had a vision, It was just a momentary one, I could feel the breeze run through your hair, And my feet were in the sand' suddenly the sun came through the clouds and the surroundings changed dramatically. I don't think I can call it a religious moment, but it was definitely a kind of vision, brought even higher by a sharp electric backwardsvguitar a little later in the song and stated that Good Day is an album to count on.

I remember very well the rumours and anticipation before the album release by late October 1989. There were several bands from the Oslo area in the mid and latter half of the 1980s inspired by the melodic 1960s. In fact the founders of the label Voices Of Wonder played in a band called A Technicolor Dream that might have started it all. The label's first release was an EP by ATD, the band's last. Anyways, the rumours said Dog Age was even more faithful to the British psychedelia of the 1966-69 era than the rest. The interest in that kind of music had grown a lot during the 1980s from the release of the compilation album Chocolate Soup For Diabetics at the start of the decade onwards. I had spent quite a bit of my listening time the previous years to explore the involved British acts. The above compilation followed by compilations on the Bam Caruso and See For Miles labels were veritable treasure chests. Also albums by Tomorrow, The Creation, Kaleidoscope, Blossom Toes, July... and by new English neo-psychedelic groups like (Robyn Hitchcock's) Soft Boys and (Dan Treacy's) Television Personalities. I guess my expectations for what Dog Age had to offer had went way too sky high. I was disappointed and wrote a lukewarm review for a local music paper where Good Day went into the mediocre bin. My disappointment mainly had to do with Dog Age being too much hung up with the Premier League of English psychedelia (Beatles around Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour and a bit Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd) and didn't dwell on whims of the lesser known acts like the ones mentioned above.

Later I found out that Dog Age's knowledge of the original psychedelia hardly went beyond Beatles and early Pink Floyd at the time. However, the album was picked up by Mick Dillingham who wrote and drew logos for the neo-psychedelic English fanzine Ptolemaic Terrascope (run by Bevis Frond's Nick Saloman and co.). He really enjoyed Good Day, got in touch with the band members and started to give lessons in what the band members ought to listen to. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that has lasted to this very day. Listening to the album again today on its own premises, as ethereal folk-pop-psychedelia, as some have described the band sound, to some extent inspired by The Beatles, it certainly haven't failed. The Beatles inspiration is very is obvious in small moments; a little lyric line borrowed from John Lennon's LSD-song ("Lucy In The Sky") in "Here Comes The Summer", some backwards effects at the end of "Outside" very similar to the ones of Lennon's first psychedelic epic "Tomorrow Never Knows" and a reference to "Sexie Sadie", also a Lennon song off the double The Beatles/White Album. Well, maybe some short inspired catchy melody lines, arrangements and lyrical themes about "The Sun" and "Rain", too. But first and foremost Dog Age stands firm on all four legs. Here are folk-inspired pop dominated by an acoustic guitar (the aforementioned "The Sun", the traditional Tablas-ridden "The Morning Train", originally a negro spiritual, I think, and the short and nasal "Party"), pure psychedelic pop (the merry "Rain" with some inspired keyboards, probably a cello and a fanfare-alike trumpet and humming-friendly "Here Come s The Summer" until an eerie Mellotron appears), chamber pop-sike with beautiful strings (the whistle-friendly and waltzy "The King Of Ing", the funny "Kangaroo", apart from those hilarious intervals, and the short and sweet "Sweet Scent Of Life", even with a harpsichord at the very end), melodic raga pop ("I Wish I Were Here" at least the first half with sitar and backwards choir, until it wanders off into mellower terrain with Mellotron, flute and afterthought and eventually "Outside" after a poppy start) and rockier stuff ("The Satanic Nurses" with wilder electric guitars than anywhere else here, both forwards and backwards).

In retrospect the somewhat monotonous "Party" and parts of "The Satanic Nurses" admittedly sound a bit amateurish and not quite up to par. The remaining 10.5 songs are spledid. There certainly might be some mellower moods, catchier pop melodies, more far out psychedelic and raga excursions, even more elegant arrangements, more outrageous rock numbers, lyrical explorations and tongues even firmer in cheek on later albums by Dog Age. But Good Day includes all those great assets the chosen few of us have learned to treasure during the last 25 years. It was all here from the very start!

'Then she went inside, I was alone
Thousends of butterflies circling my throne
You'd like to know now who's listening to me
But it can't speak, it's only a tree...'

Copyright © 2014 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Dog Age articles/reviews: As It Were, On The Garish Isles, Reefy Seadragon, Swanlake Gate.

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