Sun Dial – The Early Years

As this has been a year celebrating psychedelic music (and with a new album due this month), I thought it was time to turn my attention to Sun Dial. They are a a truly underground band and have spent the last 30 years steadily releasing new records as well as a significant amount of archival releases. They even had their own imprint on Cherry Red Records for a short period of time. Not bad for a band that have never really hit the mainstream but have maintained a dedicated fan base since their first release in 1990. That first release was ‘Other Way Out’, one of the few truly awesome psychedelic albums not produced in the 1960s. The band itself has had a revolving line up since it was first formed in the late 1980s out of the ashes of another band, The Modern Art. Modern Art released numerous records but never played live. This lead guitar player/singer, Gary Ramon decided to disband the Modern Art and form Sun Dial for the purpose of going out on the road. He has been the only ever present in the band, even though he has been joined by members of The Modern Art in the various incarnations of the later band.

Other Way Out (Alternative)

‘Other Way Out’ was their first release and came out in 1990 on their own Tangerine label. Some came with a lyric sheet including some that were signed by Ramon. I had never heard of the band because I was a little young in 1990 to be reading the independent music press, and would not have had a chance to see them play live in 1991. I only came cross them by accident having found their first album in The Record Shop in Kingston Upon Thames, an oasis for vinyl hunters in the early to mid 90s when most other record shops had stopped selling that format. One of the staff had written a note which was attached to the record saying that it was a cross between Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Jefferson Airplane. I did not know much about Jefferson Airplane at the time, but Sad Barrett was a different matter. I bought the album and was not disappointed. I was blown away by how authentic it sounded and it was heavy rotation for a number of months, much to the annoyance of everyone else around me. This being 1994, listening to Psych music was not exactly the hip thing to do. 

The album has seen a number of reissues down the years including a 25th Anniversary Edition in 2015 on Record Store Day. What has also trickled out down the years on very limited edition releases are outtakes form the sessions that produced this record. What I have done it is to take different versions of these songs to compile an alternative version of the record. It is not as good as the official release, but it is always nice to have an idea of what it could have sounded like. 

Side A

  1. Plains Of Nazca (First Take)  
  2. Exploding In Your mind (Anthology Edition)
  3. Magic Flight (Early Mix)

Side B

  1. World Without Time (Early Mix)
  2. She’s Looking All Around (Take 2)
  3. Lorne Blues (Take 1)

The cover is the same as the original, but the image had been turned into a negative. 

Sun Dial – Other Way In (Alternative)

As was noted in my previous post, Sun Dial have been rather good at their archive releases, especially from their early period. Their first album, ’Other Way Out’ has had numerous reissues but there have also been a number of records release that contain outtakes from those sessions. One of the first was a vinyl release called ‘Other Way In’ from 2005. There was also a deluxe edition of the album from 2010 as well as a mind bending 13 disc box set from the same year featuring a bewildering amount of outtakes, alternative versions, rehearsals and live songs. 

What was surprising to me was the amount of material that was recorded during the first two years of their existence that never saw the light of day on any future album. Granted, some of these songs never progressed passed the demo stage but that did not mean they could not have been dusted down and rerecorded. What I present here is at least one version of the songs recorded for ‘Other Way Out’ that stayed in the vault at the time. I have also tried not to use material that would have been used for ‘Return Journey’, their abandoned second album. 

Side A

  1. Astral Vision (Third Eye Studios Take 3)
  2. Carousel (CR Studios Demo 1)
  3. I Can See What You Are
  4. Samantha’s Scene (CR Studios Demo)

Side B

  1. You’re So Real (Take 3)
  2. Poster Painted Skies (Original Version)
  3. Atom Heart Lover
  4. Silver Dust

Side C

  1. Other Side
  2. Fountain
  3. Through You
  4. Phaser Song
  5. Dark Into Light (Demo Version)

Side D

  1. Cathedral (CR Studios Demo)
  2. Visitation (Long Version)

Single Sided 7”

  1. Visitation (Single Edit)

The cover is the same as the one used for the release of ‘Other Way In’ used back in 2005, but recoloured purple.

Sun Dial – Live At The Playground 1991

All of these songs appeared on the 2010 box set ‘Exploding In Your Mind’. Weirdly, the band released another 13 disc box set that year which contained nothing but live concerts in full. Why they felt they needed to release these separately is a bit bizarre but it did mean I could make a combined double LP version which could have been released in 1991, even though it does sound a bit ropey in places. An archival release for sure. 

Side A

  1. Mind Train*
  2. Magic Potion (Live Version 2)**

Side B

  1. Exploding In Your Mind**
  2. It’s All Too Much*
  3. Oh Yeah/Jean Genie Jam**

Side C

  1. Plains of Nazca**
  2. Other Side**
  3. Never Fade (Take 2)*
  4. Jam/Cold Turkey*

Side D

  1. Fireball**
  2. Slow Motion*
  3. Only A Northern Song**

*April performance

**May performance  

The cover is adapted from one used for a reissue of ‘Other Way Out’ with the band name and title changed so that the fonts match. 

I have no idea where The Playground venue is or was. Any ideas internet? 1.

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