Still More...

As a collection of songs it's a match for just about anything that came out around the same period.

But when you're looking for something that stands out from the pack, Side Two, subtitled Happiness Stan definitely does that, thanks to the inter-track vocal gobbledegook from 'Professor' Stanley Unwin after the band's original choice, Spike Milligan, was ruled out by his agent. As far as the actual songs were concerned, much of the side was written on hired cabin cruiser excursions on the Thames with wives, guitars and tape recorders to keep track of the writing.

As a period piece, Happiness Stan and his quest for the other half of the moon and dangly could have got pretty tired rather quickly, but provided you don't play the hell out of it, Unwin's verbal contortions continue to please. They've got their own charm, provided you don't overdo it. 

As far as the songs are concerned, Happiness Stan introduces us to the protagonist, disturbed by the waxing and waning of the moon (the other half of the moon and dangly) and determined to do something about it. Tell everybody I'm gonna find it/There ain't nothing gonna stop me is Rollin'Over's statement of intent. The Hungry Intruder delivers the means to investigate the mystery, the fly who knows someone who'll explain the mystery if only he was big enough to take Stan there. 

Fortunately, Stan has the power to transform all the flies in the world into one fly, and The Journey delivers him into the presence of Mad John, and his journey has lasted long enough for the moon to resume its original shape. John advises Stan of the very meaning of life itselft, namely Life is just a bowl of All-Bran (as in you wake up every morning and it's there, a rather Zen take on the matter) in Happydaystoytown.

The problem was, however, that while the album worked on record, it wasn't the sort of thing you could deliver on stage, though they did manage a mimed run through Song of a Baker and the whole of Side Two on the BBC's Colour Me Pop in June 1968.

When Marriott's follow-up to Lazy Sunday, the rather charming The Universal, failed to chart he started looking for other avenues, wanting to bring Peter Frampton into the line up, presumably to work the same sort of twin guitar territory he went on to explore with Frampton in the original incarnation of Humble Pie. It was, after all, that back to the roots era of The Beatles' Lady Madonna, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Music from Big Pink.

In that light you can make a pretty fair case for Ogdens as not just a classic album but an achievement that represents something very close to the apogee of psychedelia that still works rather well forty-plus years after that particular era. 

Works, in fact, in ways that many of its contemporaries don't.

B© Ian Hughes 2012