Saturday, 10 January 2015

Cardboard Orchestra (1969)

Cardboard Orchestra were a British experimental pop band, hailing from Southend-On-Sea, Essex. Led by multi-instrumentalist Keith Bonsor, who had paid his dues in R&B band, The Essex Five. In 1967 Bonsor landed a job with US music publishers Shapiro Bernstein Music Ltd, a few months later opening his own studio in which a young Andrew Lloyd Webber would be employed as an arranger. Bonsor's creativeness was developing after spending many hours behind the mixing desk.

Joining forces with Vic Collins (bass), Mark Welsey aka Mark West (vocals), Roger (drums) and Bonser himself on vocals, guitar and keys, presented his new studio project to CBS who signed the band, christened Cardboard Orchestra. The lifespan of the group was a mere two singles, both released in 1969 and neither charting.

The first single "Zebedy Zak" is a killer jaunty piano pop tune and has been comped on Piccadilly Sunshine Volume 8 and A Trip To Toytown. It's a great effort given Sgt Pepper style production by Martin Wilcox. The b-side, "Mary Tell Me Why" is one for the Fading Yellow-heads, an orchestrated, flute laden (Mellotron?), gentle ballad reminiscent of Harmony Grass.

Has anyone got a group photo of Cardboard Orchestra?

The follow up single "Nothing But A Sad, Sad Song" is a heavily orchestrated ballad with psych tinges, not a bad tune that will appeal to Walker Brothers fans. For me, it's the flip side that is the real treasure. "Yes I Heard A Little Bird" is pure toytown pop perfection, with it's call and response vocals, continuous fuzz guitar (low in the mix, natch!) and twee lyrics; "yes I heard a little bird singing someone's name, sitting on an English garden gate, there it goes again". All of this is topped off with several key changes for the fade out! This single has become highly sought after by psych collectors over the years thanks to it's appearance on the Circus Days compilation.

Following the Cardboard Orchestra's lack of success, Keith Bonsor formed Zior, a Heavy Metal band known for their wild live performances and interests in Black Magic and Satanic Masses! Don't expect anything like "Zebedy Zak" on either of their albums!!

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