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Tintern Abbey

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  • Formed: England
  • Years Active: 1960s
  • Group Members: Paul Brett


Biography All Music Guide

Group Members: Paul Brett

All Music Guide:

Tintern Abbey made only one single, "Beeside"/"Vacuum Cleaner," for Deram in 1967. But on the basis of that sole 45, they qualify as one of the very best one-shots of the British psychedelic era. There are plenty of obscure British psychedelic singles from the late '60s that attract fanatical raves in liner notes and collectors' magazines, but strike the unconverted as overrated or even ho-hum. "Beeside" is one example -- perhaps even the very best example -- of a buried treasure that does live up to its reputation. From the opening courtly solo piano, it segues into an explosive and blissful piece of melancholy British psychedelia, like the very early (psychedelia-era) Moody Blues with a more spaced-out, underground pop sense. The track had some excellent Mellotron, a lovely melody, slightly distorted vocals, pummeling drums, and an indefinable sense of foggy wistfulness, fading with a reprise of the quasi-classical piano riff that had opened the song. Its flipside, "Vacuum Cleaner," was more standard 1967 psychedelia, though still decent, with a harder rock approach in the Who-ish drums, tight vocal harmonies, and a good feedback-speckled guitar solo.

"Beeside" was not a hit, though, and although a second single ("How Do I Feel Today") was supposed to be released in April 1968, it didn't come out. Tintern Abbey was also reportedly working on an album with a projected release date of August 1968, but it never came out either and it seems fairly certain that the group disbanded sometime in 1968. A couple of members of Tintern Abbey had associations with other marginal bands on the British psych/prog scene. Singer David MacTavish (who'd written both sides of the single) was in Big Bertha (which also had ex-Move member Ace Kefford) and a late version of the Velvet Opera, while Paul Brett (who'd joined on guitar after the single) also played in the Velvet Opera (though not when MacTavish was in the lineup) and Fire. Although the original Tintern Abbey single is a rare and expensive item, it's been reissued on several compilations of obscure late-'60s British rock.