"Neue Liebeslieder Walzer, op. 65a" with handwritten notes by Johannes Brahms, 1877
The Bulldog Breed was one of many East London psych-rock bands that existed briefly in the late '60s, as a community of musicians collaborated under a variety of names. Their best-known song is probably "Portcullis Gate", the b-side of a standalone single released in advance of their only LP, 1969's Made in England. When I heard that song on Rubble Vol. 6, I made a mental note to see if I could find anything else by the Bulldog Breed - the song was a nice mix of freakbeat and psych-pop sounds, similar to my much-loved Wimple Winch, and I was curious to hear more.
So I picked up Lion Productions' rerelease of Made in England when I got the chance. The LP didn't live up to the expectations set by "Portcullis Gate", but it has some cool songs. The problem with Made in England is that the Bulldog Breed seem more interested in pursuing blues-rock and psych-pop as parallel styles, rather than mixing the two into something more interesting. Some of the bluesy numbers are cool, particularly the album's opening track "Paper Man", which is the album's natural single. "Silver" has some nice piano embellishments to go with a rote blues riff, and "I Flew" has a nice melody marred by lyrics like "Come down, cobra, come down - Disneyland is distraction!" But tracks like "Broomstick Ride" and "Reborn" have little to offer beyond repetitive riffage and pounding drums. The best freakbeat track on the LP may actually be the unfortunately-titled but hard-hitting instrumental "Top o' the Pops Cock?!?!".
The psych-pop numbers on Made in England, on the other hand, skew too much to the fey end of the spectrum, with dainty vocals and lots of harpsichord. Of these, "Eileen's Haberdashery Store" and "Dougal" are the greatest offenders, but the former has some good hooks in it that make it worthwhile. "Folder Men" is pretty fun as well, with a mile-a-minute delivery of its wordy verses over some nice banana-fingers piano. Interestingly, the best track on the Made in England reissue is a bonus track, the A-side to the "Portcullis Gate" single. "Halo in My Hair" has an early-Pink-Floyd sound, but it has the mix of hard-psych and soft-psych that I was hoping to hear from the Bulldog Breed. It looks like they may have blown their two great ideas on their first single and followed it with a not-as-great LP before moving on to other projects.
"Halo in My Hair" by the Bulldog Breed