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On The Horizon

The Syndicats were formed in Tottenham in 1963 by bassist Kevin Driscoll and guitarist Steve Howe, later of The In Crowd and Tomorrow. Driscoll's mother acted as the band's manager and in early 1964 she arranged for them to audition for producer Joe Meek. Meek liked the group, and went on to record three singles with them, the last of which was this jaw-dropping September 1965 release on Columbia Records. "Joe wanted us to do a Leiber-Stoller song called On The Horizon," remembers drummer Paul Holm. "Joe thought it would be a hit. We didn't like it - it wasn't our thing at all. It was a bit of a ballad, and we were a ravey, anarchist R&B rock band." For the session, Meek and The Syndicats gave the smooth Ben E King soul ballad a ghostly overhaul, festooning it with cobwebbed tack piano runs, lapping waves of volume-pedaled guitar and eerie backing vocals. Meek gave the band free rein for the B-side, which was recorded shortly afterwards with Ray Fenwick replacing Howe on lead guitar. As Holm remembers, the band finished writing Crawdaddy Simone, with Meek's help, only minutes before recording it. Getting into the group's "anarchist R&B" spirit, the producer encouraged them to "just go wild" - which they duly did, Holm smashing away at his cymbals from atop his bass drum, and Fenwick mangling and scraping his guitar strings to exhilarating effect. Even Meek got caught up in the excitement, rushing out of the control room and leaping around the room hitting things with a drum stick. "Joe loved it!" remembers Holm. "He'd never seen anybody act like that in his studio - I don't think anybody dared!"

Mike Stax / Ugly Things Magazine

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