If you were around in the mid-80’s and picked up the free magazine Rock This Town, you might have heard about a hairy blond guy named Simon Rigot. He was active in the underground Belgian scene and was connected to almost every act who had their names cited in RTT, like a mad professor who’d taken the lead of a crime organization.
Years have passed, and bored of living on his main asset “My Suitor”, Rigot came back on the scene with a low-key surf band, the Lunar Tiki’s, gradually evolving into a psychedelic revival act, the Narcotic Daffodils.
An unlikely line-up made of three young rebels and two reformed blokes (Rigot and ex-punk bassist Flupke), the Daffodils released two more than decent albums, before finding themselves in the usual turmoil of any band, rock or not: the holy line-up change. Doors slammed, and while almost anyone would have betted the three rebels would have fired the two old farts, it’s quite the opposite that happened.
Rigot and Flupke had to find three new young boys’n’girls to keep the legend alive. The struggled paid off under the shape of a third album, “Summer Love”, released almost 50 years after the Summer of Love of 1967. Just on time to have something new to listen to on the beach next summer.
“Summer love” has a cool artwork, which is a trademark of the Narcotic Daffodils that contrasts with their usual lack of mystery in promotion time. Another good surprise is the timing of the album, just enough to compete with a vinyl record. This is a happy reversal tendency to the over packed CD’s of the 90’s – 2000’s that were at best unmemorable.
The Daffodils 2017 starts with a very cool, riff-driven and well-arranged “Summer Love”, setting the tone for the whole LP. This great piece is followed by “Naturally High”, musically above average but lyrically stupid. Although sounding more 67 than any 1967 act, the Narcotic Daffodils are a product of their time. The sea, sex and sun ideology has been replaced by the eco-friendly bore of index 50 sunscreen, condoms and solar panels. “Natural High”, the naïve story of a boy who gets high without drugs or alcohol (gosh poor guy), is the sad reminder of the times we’re living in. If the Narcotic Daffodils want to become the Ed Sheeran of psychedelism, they’re on the right track.
Ritchie Blackmore has been known for a blunt honesty about the origins of most of the riffs he created, I hope he won’t hold any grudge to the Narcotic Daffodils for ripping off note-for-note his “Rat Bat Blue” for their “Guardians”. This embarrassing plagiarism doesn’t make the song bad however.
“Hypnotized” is a bit like “Riding The Drag” part II, with a good efficient riff without being a piece of art, and it’s with “You Can’t Get” that you can reach some heights of the talent provided by the 5 Belgians. It has a stunning mood, a funny 9/8 break and a superb organ solo. The Daffodils’ best song ever? Yeah.
Unfortunately it is followed by “Bruxelles”, without a doubt one of the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It makes Céline Dion sound like a poet and 1-Direction like a bunch of dirty punks. The ridiculously sissy lyrics, sung (quite badly) in French and Flemish (to show the ahem… unity of Brussels…) makes it sound like a joke, but not a funny one. And the problem is: it’s not even a joke. It’s meant to be serious. When the band tells you genuinely that the song is a love declaration to the city of Brussels, you start to think that being naturally high might be destructive for mental health. As if wasn’t enough, “Bruxelles” is coloured by samples of the announcements made on the public transports company, the lousy STIB –one of the most ridiculous public transports company in the whole world. It makes the listening a really painful experience. And although the song had been written before the attacks of March 22, its release afterwards gives me the bitter feeling that it belongs to the pinnacle of the mediatic bullshit that arose since then: politically correct banter, calls to unity with a white-teeth smile, “we don’t have hate, we love everybody” lies and the usual ostrich policy. Nice guys seems to forget that on March 22, families were shattered, destroyed, innocent were killed or worse mutilated for life, some lost a limb or two, some their vision, other their hearing, some now spend their life recluse and jobless, all that for absolutely no good reason. Songs like that are like turning the other cheek and ask for more terror, more blood and more drama.
Phew, a breath of fresh air is needed. “Atomic 53” is the savior, its 9 minutes of a throbbing groove sounding like a redemption after the previous faux-pas.
How to conclude? Even if we may be repelled by the un-rock, band-next-door attitude of the Daffodils, they provide truly great songs, full of substance and melodies, with great playing and energy that goes straight to the guts of the listener. Are the Daffodils too respectful to their masters? Maybe. But who cares, after all? My eras tell me to play it again. By skipping a track, of course.
“Summer Love” is an it’s Oh! MUSIC release. Available at http://www.thenarcoticdaffodils.com too.