Band members               Related acts

- Steve Chapman -- drums, percussion (1966-68)

- Martin Curtis -- vocals, rhythm guitar (1966-70)

- Kent Mick Glass -- (1966-68)

- Bob Ponton -- vocals, guitar (1966-70)




Junior's Eyes (Steve Chapman)

- Poco (Steve Chapman)

- Bob Ponton (solo efforts)

- Thoughts & Words (Martin Curtis and Bob Ponton)





Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The Unreleased Album

Company: Radioactive

Catalog:  RR 070LP

Year: 2004

Country/State: Kent, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: # 723 out of 1000; still in shrink wrap

Available: not for sale

GEMM catalog ID: not for sale

Price: not for sale


James Plummer's Radioactive Records was one of those 'gray area' reissue labels.  Before going under in 2006 the label apparently paid royalties to some artists, but screwed far more outfits over.  That said, I'm not sure whether this band ever saw any money out of the company ...  If I were a betting man, I'd say no.  Assuming the Radioactive release was a boot that puts people in the tough position of having to shell out some big bucks for an original copy, waiting for an approved reissue, or temporarily abandoning their morals in order to check the music out. It's not much of a personal defense, but I actually bought a couple of Radioactive releases after I saw a full page ad they'd placed in a nationally distributed music magazine.  I mistakenly thought that a company with such a blatant ad campaign must be legitimate.  (You'll also notice that my Radioactive copies of these LPs aren't for sale.)  


I remember a friend playing a copy of a Pandamonium single years ago (think it was their cover of Donovan's 'Season of the Witch') and while I remember liking the song, I wasn't sufficiently impressed to do anything about it.


Singers/guitarists Martin Curtis and Bob Poton started their professional musical careers in 1963 as members of the beat band The Pandas.  By 1966 they'd expanded their line up to include Kent Mick Glass and drummer Steve Chapman.  They'd also opted for a name change, dropping The Pandas for the hipper Pandamonium.


Signed by CBS, over the next two years the group released a string of three singles that attracted considerable critical attention, but relatively few sales:


- 1967's 'Season of the Witch' b/w 'Today I'm Happy' (CBS catalog number 202462)

- 1967's 'No Presents For Me' b/w 'Sun Shines From His Eyes' (CBS catalog number 2640)

- 1968's 'Chocolate Buster Dam' b/w 'Fly With Me Forever' (CBS catalog number 3451)



Growing frustration with CBS led the group to call it quits in 1968.  Curtis and Ponton continued their partnership as a duo.  Signed by Liberty Records, they released an interesting 1969 collection - "Thoughts and Words".  The pair were apparently surprised to discover that Liberty marketing executives had elected to name them 'Thoughts & Words'.  


"Thoughts & Words" Liberty catalog number LBL-83224


While the LP and a single ('Morning Sky' b/w 'Give Me a Reason' (Liberty catalog number LBF 15187')) did little commercially, Liberty agreed to finance a follow-up collection.  Unfortunately upon completion the tapes were promptly shelved where they remained for some three decades before Radioactive somehow acquired access to them for the release of 2004's "The Unreleased Album".  Produced by Shel Talmy and Hugh Murphy, the collection found the duo supported by members of Fairport Convention/Fotheringay (Jerry Donahue, Gerry Conway and Tim Donaldson) and Heads, Hands and Feet (Albert Lee and Chas Hodges).  Musically the album was quite different from the earlier "Thoughts & Words" release.  Whereas the former sported a distinctive reflective folk feel, material like 'I Know You', the Badfinger-ish 'Sunrise' and 'Sit and Watch the Sunshine' showcased a far more commercial and up-tempo pop feel.  Showcasing all original material, the pair had a clear knack for crafting the kind of melodies that crawled into your head and wouldn't let go - I dare you to shake 'I Believe In You' out of your memory.  Curiously, as lead singers neither Curtis nor Ponton had great voices, but when they were paired together they somehow managed to turn in some truly stunning harmony work (the country-tinged 'If I Could Be With You').  Even more interesting were a couple of psych-influenced numbers.  'I Am What I Am' sported another mesmerizing melody, couple with one of the best fuzz and backward guitar solo sections I've ever heard.  Yeah, there were a couple of duds - 'Baby I'll Be Yours' was a forgettable country-influenced number, 'Who Knows What We May Find' was a fey ballad, and 'Waiting for Summer' was a strange Latin-flavored piece that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an Everything But the Girl album.  Still, one of my favorite recent discoveries the big mystery being why Liberty would have shelved an album with so much commercial potential ...


"The Unreleased Album" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Know You   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
2.) It's a Long Time   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
3.) I Am What I Am   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
4.) Sunrise   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
5.) If I Could Be With You   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 


(side 2)
1.) Sit And Watch The Sunshine   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
2.) Baby I’ll Be Yours   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
3.) Send Out A Smile   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
4.) Who Knows What We May Find   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
5.) Waiting For Summer   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 
6.) I Believe In You   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 


For completists there's also a posthumous 1974 Thoughts & Words 45 on the English Marabo label - 'It's Alright Baby' b/w 'Latin Way' (Marabo catalog number MO 1101).


Ponton and Curtis continued their writing partnership for George Martin's Air Music.  There's also a Ponton solo LP - 1984's "One of Those Days".  


Original drummer Chapman stayed in music through the mid-1980s playing with a late-inning Poco line up and as a member of Al Stewart's touring band, at which point he started a management company - Chapman Management Company.



Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  No Presents for Me: Singles and Rarities

Company: Radioactive

Catalog:  RR 086LP

Year: 2005

Country/State: Kent, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: # 723 out of 1000; still in shrink wrap

Available: not for sale

GEMM catalog ID: not for sale

Price: not for sale



In purely chronological terms, Radioactive's second Pandamonium LP, 2005's "No Presents for Me: Singles and Rarities" should have seen daylight prior to 2004's "The Unreleased Album".  That's due to the fact it captured the group's original 1967 - 1968 era singles ('A' and 'B' sides), along with various other odds and ends.  Spanning their entire 1966 - 1972 recording career, the 15 track compilation 


"No Presents for Me: Singles and Rarities" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Season of the Witch   (Donovan Leitch) - 

2.) Today I’m Happy   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

3.) No Presents For Me   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

4.) The Sun Shines From His Eyes   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

5.) Chocolate Buster Dan   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

6.) Fly With Me Forever   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

7.) My Old Flame   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

8.) The Hermit   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 


(side 1)

1.) It's Alright Baby   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

2.) Latin Way   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

3.) All I Want Is You   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

4.) Discrimination   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

5.) What A Funny World   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

6.) Simple Man   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 

7.) My Old Flame (alternative version)   (Bob Ponton - Martin Curtis) - 




This, the second Pandamonium album to appear on Radioactive, is a collection of singles, demos, acetates and other rarities culled from Bob Ponton and Martin Curtis's time spent in various London recording studios between 1966 and 1972. The 15 tracks (including an alternative version of a Pandamonium live favourite, 'My Old Flame') range from their spirited cover of Donovan's classic 'Season Of The Witch' (the band's version of which actually appeared before Donovan's) to the most popular of their CBS singles, 'No Presents For Me'. Although the musical styles vary with pleasing regularity, the quality of Ponton and Curtis's song writing is, as usual, consistent throughout. This collection of singles and rarities brings as up to the time the duo signed with Liberty and their only official album ever to see the light of day, Thoughts And Words, which the boys recorded with exWomble Mike Batt."


Here’s another one of the missing parts of the Radioactive’s Pandamonium puzzle, which, with last year’s "Unreleased album  release, makes the picture a bit more complete, and quite colourful too. Before being left on their own towards the end of the decade, the songwriting pair of Bob Ponton and Martin Curtis, was teamed up with certain Jenns brothers, forming The Pandas, and releasing their debut ’66 single (to their own surprise) as The Pandamonium. The single in question was a Them-ed, folk rocking cover of Donovan’s "Season of the witch" (appearing several months before the author’s own version on the "Sunshine Superman  LP, thanks to their manager’s Mickie Most connection), being paired up with what sounds like a perfect Mersey/Harmony pop crossover of "Today I’m happy". The band’s finest hour came with their sophomore effort in the shape of the garage-psych classic "No presents for me", backed by a piece of ’67-Who-mor, which could’ve been even funnier, had they been allowed to stick with the song’s initial title instead of "The sun shines from his eyes (arse)", and for their third and final single, they chose the Kinky-character Britcycling of "Chocolate buster Dan", written by their new producer and supposedly McCartney’s old friend Malcolm Brown,  combined with the DDBM&T-like bubblegummy power-pop "Fly with me forever". Of the sixties recordings, there’s also a pair of acetates, made of the music-hall-ish "My old flame" and the melodic r’n’beat ditty "The hermit", being kinda punky and commercial sounding at the same time … which brings us to the generally less interesting ’71-’73 sessions, more in the vein of the "Unreleased  album’s lighter harmony pop feel, with the highlight being the slightlydelic pair of "Discrimination" and "What a funny world", both fitting a kind of a protest harmony folk bag, if there is such a thing.
        With the 1969 Toughts and Words album on Liberty being the only part of the puzzle left, let’s hope that Radioactive’s promise of it being "shortly due  will come to fruition soon.




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