SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND - 'Kites' / 'Like The Sun Like The Fire' (Parlophone R 5646) Oct 1967
When I was about 10 years old back in the mid 70s, my Uncle gave me a handful of singles because he no longer needed them. Included in the pile were records by The Beatles, The Kinks, The Searchers, Slade and this one by Simon Dupree & The Big Sound. 'Kites' always made me feel weird probably because the melody was playing on my mind. I'd never heard anything so exotic sounding before and the strange background noise held me captive. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered I'd been listening to psychedelia and the strange background noise was made by a mellotron.
Simon Dupree & The Big Sound were from Portsmouth, England. They consisted of three brothers. Ray Shulman, Derek Shulman and Phil Shulman. They had previously been in local bands called The Howling Wolves and The Road Runners. They were joined by ex Classics Tony Ransley on drums and Pete O'Flaherty on bass. It won't have escaped your attention that no one in the band was actually called Simon Dupree.
This was a name dreamed up by their Manager who also brought them the song 'Kites' to record. By all accounts the band hated the song and didn't want to record it but changed their minds when they had the opportunity to record and produce the disc at the famous Abbey Road studios in London. The recordings took place sometime in September 1967, only months after The Beatles had completed the album Sgt Pepper. Fortunately for Simon Dupree & The Big Sound they were able to use the obscure instruments that The Beatles had utilized on Pepper such as the mellotron, finger symbols, woodblocks and they also added the strange wind effects.
So what had been something of an ordinary love ballad 'Kites' blossomed into a flower power and completely 'turned on' slice of psychedelia. The flip 'Like The Sun Like The Fire' is also another cool psych track with plenty of mellotron. Simon Dupree & The Big Sound carried on with limited success until late 1969 before disbanding. The three Shulman brothers then formed a new band called Gentle Giant in 1970 and moved into progressive rock territory.