Tomorrow had a brief career in the mid- to late-’60s that was remarkable for two reasons. They were one-hit wonders with My White Bicycle (taken from their one eponymous LP), but more notably Steve Howe was the guitarist and he, of course, went on to play a much more significant role in music history after leaving the band. So why has Mr Howe decided that the time is right to release a re-vamped and updated version of the original album?
It all makes sense when you realise that this is not a simple re-issue. It is a wholesale re-imagining of the ethos of the band. At the time, the album Tomorrow was a hybrid mix of band compositions and songs that were destined to become part of a separate project imagined by the band’s producer and keyboard player Mark P Writz. Keith West, the band’s vocalist, had already collaborated with Mr Writz on a single release, Excerpts from a Teenage Opera, and a further three tracks from the same project were then recorded by Tomorrow and included on their album. Looking back, the original collection was part ‘Tomorrow – the band’ and part ‘Mark P Writz’s songs interpreted by Tomorrow – the band.’
The album failed to capture the imagination of the public, partly, we presume, due to its eclectic nature. Hit single My White Bicycle caught the tail-end of the psychedelic Summer of Love peak in 1967, but by the time the album was released in 1968 the commercial high-point for whimsical flights of fancy had passed and the band soon split.
To put the record straight, Mr Howe has gone back to the heart of what the band was about. One track has been removed from the original running order and the three ‘interpretations’ have been replaced with three other homegrown studio tracks. These changes transform the original Tomorrow album into a radically different proposition, and Permanent Dream is the outcome. Now, instead of the over-whelming sense of psychedelia, the new album is a punchy prototype of post-punk with progressive leanings, more in tune with future bands like Television and Wire. “It struck me a few years ago that the magic of our band was never properly realised on our 1968 album release,” explains Howe, and listening to the new version now you can hear that he is spot on.
We know now that it was not too long after the band’s demise that drummer John ‘Twink’ Alder coined the term “acid punk” to describe his music and, in addition to his drumming role with the anarchic Pink Fairies, he went on to release a series of records collaborating with punk and post-punk icons in the late ’70s and ’80s. We can also recognise from the new album how Steve Howe began his journey of discovery with his lead guitar, enabled by the backing of the first in a series of solid and aggressive rhythm sections, spearheaded by Twink.
Whatever your preconceptions about ’60s psychedelic rock, I am here to reassure you that Permanent Dream will surprise and delight anyone who has a passing interest in the development of rock music in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and as a bonus, here you also get far more Steve Howe for your money than on the original release.
The new album starts with a couple of decent pop songs, re-sequenced from Tomorrow, that set up the familiar sounding My White Bicycle, which is followed by the freshly introduced track Why. Why has a looser, sketchier feel to it and rather than being developed into a formulaic pop structure it provides the space for Steve Howe to deliver the first of his expansive solos. The feel is more pub rock than progressive masterpiece, but it’s a great insight into the early stages of his development.
Revolution was the follow-up single from the original album and is followed now by the cover version of Strawberry Fields Forever, which presents the basics of the song as a straight-forward band number and avoids any attempt to replicate the eastern and mystical elements of the Beatles’ original. The Three Little Dwarfs is the only whimsical and twee psychedelia left on the album, serving as a reminder of the contrast between the diverging musical directions in the band. Now Your Time Has Come appears here in an edited form, cut down to a more digestible three minutes. It is followed by two more ‘new’ tracks to close out the album. Claramount Lake was previously released as a B-side to My White Bicycle, and this version has Steve Howe featuring high in the mix, delivering a dynamic performance that carries the song. Caught in the Web is another track that pauses in the middle to allow Mr Howe some more me-time on the guitar. There are plenty of opportunities to tag the hooks, lines and tones that will be developed in later years during his Yes career.
The bonus tracks are also of interest. There is a second version of Real Permanent Dream that gains from the cleaner production sound, whilst at the same time losing a bit of the soul of the first version. One of the edited out tracks is re-included in this section, rather aimlessly, but we also get two raw live tracks where the punk energy of the band really comes across.
With updated production, new artwork and album notes from Steve and Twink, this is a fine and worthy project. The story of Tomorrow has been re-told through Permanent Dream in a way that showcases the band’s music much more effectively than the original album Tomorrow. It’s a piece of a jigsaw that Steve has obviously been waiting to complete for a while, and we should all be grateful for that. The whole package is a credit to Steve’s passion for music in general and for the legacy of his first proper band.
01. Real Permanent Dream [Version One] (2:21)
02. Hallucinations (2:37)
03. My White Bicycle (3:18)
04. Why (4:03)
05. Revolution (3:24)
06. Strawberry Fields Forever (4:00)
07. Three Jolly Little Dwarfs (2:24)
08. Now Your Time Has Come (3:03)
09. Claramount Lake (2:52)
10. Caught In A Web (4:55)
~ Bonus Tracks:
11. Real Permanent Dream [Version Two] (2:59)
12. The Incredible Journey of Timothy Chase (3:25)
13. Now Your Time Has Come [Live] (3:23)
14. Shotgun and the Duck [Live] (5:26)
Total Time – 48:10
Keith West – Vocals
Steve Howe – Guitar
John “Junior” Wood – Bass
John “Twink” Alder – Drums
Mark P. Wirtz – Organ, Piano
Record Label: Spirit of Unicorn Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 28th April 2023