Pink Fairies: Never-Neverland 12” (1971)
This week we got in a brand new reissue of the Pink Fairies debut album, 1971’s Never-Neverland. Considering how much trouble I had tracking down a vinyl copy of this album when I decided I needed one, I thought I’d shed some light on this record for those of you who might not have checked it out.
The Pink Fairies were movers and shakers in the early 70s London underground scene, and they’re connected to scores of other bands you might have heard, including the Pretty Things, Hawkwind, Motorhead, the Deviants, Twink, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and doubtless many more. Unsurprisingly given all these connections, I came to Never-Neverland in a roundabout way. While I’ve known the Pink Fairies’ name for a long time—I’m pretty sure I bought their 1976 single on Stiff Records in the mid-90s—I hadn’t heard any music that grabbed me. I took another look at the Pink Fairies when I noticed three records I like—the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow, Twink’s Think Pink, and the Rings’ 1977 Chiswick single—all shared a member, drummer / vocalist Twink. It still boggles my mind that one musician was present and engaged with so many of the great flowerings of the British musical underground, from the 60s R&B / mod scene to high psychedelia to the hippie free festival scene to pub rock and punk. What a life!
I’m no historian of the Pink Fairies, and it seems like you need to be one to understand the series of events that led up to Never-Neverland. The Pink Fairies was a name that floated around London’s underground scene, getting attached to various projects with a wide variety of lineups. Eventually, a band coalesced, led by drummer / vocalist Twink and augmented with 3 members from the Deviants, who had dissolved during a disastrous American tour. This new version of the band, based in the London hippie enclave Ladbroke Grove, eventually connected with Hawkwind and began playing the same circuit of free festivals and impromptu gigs, many of which ended with musicians from both bands taking the stage as Pinkwind for an epic jam session.
Polydor Records signed the band and released the scorching single “The Snake,” a blistering fast, hard-rocking song that reminds me of the MC5 at their most electric. “The Snake” was backed with “Do It,” an extended version of which appears as the first track on Never-Neverland. Maybe I’m crazy, but the lunging rhythm of “Do It” reminds me of Black Flag, and if you’re a punker coming to the Pink Fairies for the first time, it’s the perfect gateway drug for the band’s sound.
As for that sound, while it’s similar to Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies of Never-Neverland still had plenty of high-energy R&B in their sound, and they brought an amphetamine-fueled energy to their psychedelic rock. Unlike the Sabbath end of the hard psychedelia spectrum, there isn’t much blues influence on this album, instead cramming echo-drenched lead guitar excursions into the more compact R&B sound of the early Pretty Things, Rolling Stones, and Them.
After Never-Neverland, this lineup of the Pink Fairies dissolved. The band’s next iteration eventually fell under the control Larry Wallis, who left the band after 1973’s Kings of Oblivion to join Lemmy in the original lineup of Motorhead. The Pink Fairies have reformed countless times with a huge cast of characters, and dozens of archival releases have wheeled out studio and live material from all these different versions. Maybe one day I’ll find time to pull that thread.