We may have Kanye West today, but back in the 60s, there was Keith West. He was the singer of the band Tomorrow, which only made one album of the same name. However, that album left a mark on the psychedelic rock pantheon of that era due to its beautiful songs. It helps that Steve Howe, who later became the guitarist for Yes, lent his string mastery in this one. They were also joined by Twink on drums (who played drums on S.F. Sorrow by the Pretty Things) and John “Junior” Wood on bass.
Despite recording in spring 1967, delays with their record label caused the album to be released in February 1968. It’s a shame that their music wasn’t well-known, as Tomorrow is comparable to other Summer of Love records of 1967 like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Surrealistic Pillow.
The album opens with “My White Bicycle,” which goes all in with the backwards guitar effects made famous on the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Speaking of the Beatles, there’s a cover of Strawberry Fields Forever here. While nowhere near as iconic as the original, it’s still a decent tip of the hat to the band, being dominated by Howe’s guitar rather than the mellotron in the Fab Four’s version. The standout track would certainly be “Revolution,” which serves as a call to action. “Have your own little revolution now” are certainly relevant lyrics in this day and age, although “Flower children spreading love – that’s a start” is more relegated to the 60s. Many records of that decade would have that one song with a sitar on it, and “Real Life Permanent Dream” is the band’s answer to that. You can tell that whoever played it was not a long-term player of the sitar (as Indian music teachers recommend spending years learning theory before picking one up) but the melody is memorable nonetheless. West also whimsically sings of characters like Colonel Brown and Timothy Chase, similar to Donovan and Syd Barrett. Like Barrett, West’s British accent is quite pronounced, but never hampers the catchiness of the songs. What stands out most are Howe’s guitar chops, and serves as a great precursor to the history-defining work he did with Yes. You also can’t forget Twink and Wood’s rhythm section, which are incredibly hypnotic.
The 1999 remaster of the album adds 12 bonus tracks, most of which are forgettable and don’t compare to the rest of the songs. However, there is a “phased mono version” of “Revolution,” which made an already psychedelic song even more psychedelic. That is quite a rare occurrence. The rest are slightly altered versions of the original songs, some from Keith West’s short-lived solo career, and Aquarian Age, which was a band run by Twink and Wood.
Although being very similar to other records of its time, Tomorrow’s self-titled debut is an interesting relic of a bygone time period. Aside from the bonus tracks, Tomorrow will keep you engaged, making you want to dance at times and be grounded at other times. If you’re a psychedelic rock aficionado, then you certainly need to add this disc to your collection. You will not be disappointed.
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