Rieks Korte is a Syd Barrett fan and a lover of rarities as his Dutch blogs De Platenkoffer and De Platenkoldershow show. Unfortunately these blogs haven’t been updated since 2016 as he also succumbed to the Venus flytrap that is Facebook.
As such he is a valid contributor to Birdie Hop, that eclectic mixture of Sydiots (good!) and idiots (not so good!) who think that publishing the same pictures from Syd Barrett over and over again is a splendid thing. But who am I to blame others, next to slightly fantastic The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit (the blog you are reading now), there is a pretty redundant Tumblr, a superfluous Facebook page and a forgettable Twitter with the same name, that only add to the general obfuscation of the interweb.
So far for my introduction that, as the gentle reader knows, mostly has nothing to do with the rest of the article. This is no exception.
A couple of days ago Rieks Korte wrote about a Lucifer Sam cover from the band The Graded Grains, allegedly from 1967, that he described as (possibly) the first Pink Floyd cover ever. You can listen to it hereafter, before we continue with our lament. Thank you.
Link for recalcitrant browsers: Lucifer Sam.
The Graded Grains
The Graded Grains, named after a successful advertisement slogan from Homepride, are so obscure that their name isn’t even mentioned in Rob Chapman’s Psychedelia and Other Colours, but to my amazement I happen to have one of their tracks in my collection, Animal Magic on The Looking At The Pictures In The Sky box from Grapefruit Records. (That same compilation also has a track from The Spartans, an early incarnation.)
There is a very detailed – official – website of the band and from there we learn that they were originally based at Exeter and started in 1964 as The Spartans. They morphed into Clockwork Orange and finally they settled as The Graded Grains in 1967.
The band went on until 1971, had a bus-load of personnel changes, and had over 300 gigs in Germany alone. They acted as a warm-up band for quite a few rock legends: Amen Corner, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Cream, Family, Free, Long John Baldry, The Move, The Pretty Things, The Searchers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Traffic and The Who.
A Graded Grains Mk2 was reformed in 1974. That band went on for about a decade with over a thousand gigs on their list.
Despite these many gigs there are only about 30 recorded tracks of them, available in collectors circles and never officially released, with the odd exception here and there.
The first Graded Grains tracks were made at Swan Street Studio, Torquay, in 1968, engineered by Tony Waldron. It had Cliff Andrews on drums, John Gregory on guitar and Ian “Bud” Street on bass and vocals.
This session has survived on acetate. Side A has an early version of Animal Magic (misspelled as Animal Majic), side B has a track that has been noted down as Lucifer Son but that is a (pretty average) cover of the Floyd’s Lucifer Sam, probably to repeat the animal theme on the record's B-side.
While Modbeat66 at YouTube claims this is a 1967 track the Graded Grains site confirms several times that this session dates from 1968. That is the date we will work with.
So, is this really the first Pink Floyd cover as has been claimed?
No, it probably isn’t.
As usual, when things involve Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd, the Reverend thinks he can give the answers.
First of all, the Lucifer Sam version of The Graded Grains exists only as an acetate disc and was never issued as a single. A collector found it in a London shop and put the track on a 1983 Chocolate Soup For Diabetics compilation (still as Lucifer Son, by the way). One source told the Church that the song could be found on an earlier bootleg, where it was described as a track from an unknown band, but we didn't find a trace of that album.
Dr Doom, on 45Cat, claims that there are two known acetates of this record. One was auctioned in 2004 on eBay and on the third of September 2017 a second one was sold for £821 on Popsike (where it was confirmed this was the second known copy of that acetate).
Although recorded in 1968, Lucifer Sam by The Graded Grains has only been officially released in the mid eighties, so it simply isn't the Floyd’s first cover version. Some readers might find that we are stretching the rules a bit...
...but we have an even better argument.
There is a Pink Floyd cover from a Canadian band that dates from 1967, a couple of months before Graded Grains recorded Lucifer Sam. Three To One recorded See Emily Play on the Arc label in 1967 and a year later that same track appeared on the CTV After Four compilation.
A second See Emily Play cover on Arc, using new vocals, but with the same musical track, was released by the Okey Pokey Band & Singers on their 1968 Flower Power album. A shorter version of exactly the same song was put on an 1968 EP from the band The Golden Ring, unfortunately that version seems to have disappeared from YouTube.
The Okey Pokey Band and The Golden Ring never existed as such, but were just fake band names to put on so-called sound-alike records. We have dedicated a very detailed article about these Canadian Pink Floyd covers: The Rape of Emily (three different ones).
Graded Grains were one of the very first bands to cover a Pink Floyd tune, only nobody ever heard it before the eighties. They were preceded by a couple of months by Canadian band Three To One who covered See Emily Play. Perhaps Graded Grains were the first British band to have covered a Pink Floyd song, although that is open for discussion.
It makes a good story though.
Many thanks: British
Music Archive, Dr Doom, Graded
Grains, John Gregory, Rieks Korte, Modbeat66 and the friendly people
of Birdie Hop. Some pictures and stuff at our Tumblr: Graded
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥