Year of Release: 1966
Most of the garage and psychedelic bands compiled on both legitimate and rather more questionable cult compilations have been smoked out of their holes now. Once a track generates enough interest from aficionados and their relatives notice them getting mentions online, it's enough for them to suddenly come forward and talk more about their careers. The Kytes, on the other hand, have been a mysterious act for many a moon. "Frosted Panes" - a hectoring but somehow sweet folky track about the media dictating ideas of personal identity - worked its way on to the Rubble series of compilation albums and sounded quite at home there, and the rather more organ-driven groove of "Running In The Water" was compiled on to volume one of "We Can Fly", but the liner notes to both admit to a lack of knowledge about the act.
Here's what we definitely know - The Kytes apparently acted as the backing band for Peter and Gordon at some points throughout the sixties, and had two record contracts, one with Pye (which resulted in two singles, this and "Frosted Panes") and a one-off single deal with Island. After that, it seems certain that the band had no further product released, but whether they continued gigging or worked as session musicians for other artists is completely unknown.
"Blessed" was their first single and is a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel track, and was released in exactly the same week that The Tremeloes version went out on Decca. Perhaps somewhat predictably, neither version was a hit - this frequently happened whenever rival record companies went "head to head" on different versions of songs in the sixties - but for my money, this take on it is suitably abrasive. The guitars clang, the vocals sound as if they're being delivered through gritted teeth, and it brings out the disillusionment and protest in Paul Simon's original tune, even though lines such as "Blessed is the church... service/ makes me nervous" don't rank among his finest. It's not difficult to understand why this wasn't a hit - it's doubtful it would have been even if the Simon and Garfunkel original had been lifted from their "Sounds of Silence" album - but it does sound like the authentic product of agitated youth, a theme "Frosted Panes" would somewhat wearily continue. The less said about the irritating B-side "Call Me Darling" the better, although I could add that it seems to be aiming for McCartney styled whimsy but only gets the "whimsy" aspect nailed.
I doubt that I'll crack a mystery which has eluded fans of all things garage and psychedelic since at least the late eighties when The Kytes were first rediscovered, but if anyone does know of their identity, I'd be grateful for further information.