|Although you may not think you’re familiar with him, Allan Crockford is a respected name to be conjured with. A truly able musical lieutenant, he has done time with the most revered Garage Rock names this side of the pond. When I mention the likes of The Prisoners, James Taylor Quartet, Billy Childish (Thee Headcoats) and The Stabilisers, you soon begin to understand that I’m talking Medway Garage Rock royalty here.
However, while Crockford has played the crucial guitarist sideman role with verve and dedication for years, he’s never stepped into the spotlight centre stage. Until now, that is, when he finally unveils his own project, THE GALILEO 7. A versatile vehicle for the songs Crockford has been saving up for the past few years, they also feature Viv Bonsels (organ, vocals), Paul Moss (bass/ vocals) and drummer Russ Baxter and between ‘em clearly know a thing or twelve about ye olde Garage Rock moves and grooves.
Opener ‘Never Go Back’ suggests ‘Are We Having Fun Yet?’ is going to be a Biff Bang Pow of a Garage Rock combination punch from rounds one to fifteen. It fades in on backwards masked guitars, but soon starts heaving Who-style power chords all over the shop and indulges in a suitably anthemic chorus. The theory continues to hold up should you then employ the ‘skip’ button and make for the Mod-Punk rush of tracks like ‘Go Home’, ‘The Best Way is our Way’ and the swerving, rubber-burning riffs of ‘Can’t Resist’.
Taken on these tracks alone, ‘Are We Having Fun Yet?’ is indeed shaping up as the retro Garage Pop feast you expected at the outset, but elsewhere there’s a lot more depth and sonic exploration going down. For starters, make for the nervy, slow-burning insomniac’s blues ‘The Sandman Turns Away’ (“pace the room, I hum a tune/ can’t count sheep ‘cos they fall asleep”) or the groove-bound instrumental ‘Feed the Meter’ which has a touch of the James Taylor Quartet, but also flings a pinch or two of Roy Budd and John Barry into its’ stylish melting pot along the way.
Then there are the Syd Barrett-tinged psych-pop outings ‘Orangery Lane’ and ‘Feet on the Ground’ and the nicely surreal, Creation-esque ‘Running Through our Hands’ which features the sort of oddball lyricism (“we’ll do anything to be free/ nailing jelly to a tree”) which you’d hope for from a record whose sleeve suggests Flann O’Brien’s bizarre masterpiece ‘The Third Policeman’ as one of its’ selected texts to peruse.
Of course, these quintessentially English visions of Psych-Pop as seen through Granny Takes a Trip glasses are as unashamedly retro as the crunching Medway garage rock assault I’d expected, so I’m not about to make any claims that The Galileo 7 are about to re-invent the sonic wheel . However, Allan Crockford has the skill to make a series of familiar-sounding hooks hit home impressively on their own merits and he’s running with the Garage Pop ball here. In answer to the question ‘Are We Having Fun Yet?’ the listener’s answer has to be an unequivocal ‘Yes’.