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SECOND HAND

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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Second Hand biography
Is there an exact limit between Psychedelia and Prog Rock?

After listening "SECOND HAND", the only answer possible is no and that's the main reason why Proto Prog was created as a link between the two genres. Outside Prog Rock's petite universe it would be easier to describe what these guys were doing and that's why you will find them in almost every Psychedelia site or catalogue something that is not wrong but neither truth, "SECOND HAND" is somewhere in the grey area between both genres. The story of this British band starts around 1965 when the keyboardist Ken Elliot formed a band named THE NEXT COLLECTION but in 1968 they signed with Polydor Records and the label suggested them to change their name that could lead to a confusion (maybe mistaken with any compilation) so they chose MOVING FINGERS but this name was already taken, so as joke in reference to their used instruments they went with SECOND HAND.

The band was formed by the already-mentioned Ken Elliot playing keys and singing, Kieran O'Connor on drums, Bobby Gibbons on lead guitar, Nick South playing bass and they invited Chris Williams to add flute, cello, violin and saxophone in their debut album "Reality". This first release is clearly more oriented towards late Psychedelia but very advanced for the genre, anybody can feel the characteristic early-Prog sound, hidden somewhere. Despite being an excellent album, it never reached a great popularity in the charts, and stayed an undeservedly obscure and underrated gem from the late 60's.

They had to wait almost three years to release another album, but this was too much for Bobby Gibbons and Nick South who left the band, being replaced by George Hart (bass, violin and backing vocals), Moggy Mead on guitar and they recruited Ken's brother Rob as a new lead vocalist and a frontman, seeing that Ken was too busy working with his new mellotron and organ. With this line-up they left Polydor Records and joined the new Mushroom Records label with whom they release their second album "Death May Be Your Santa Claus". Now, this album is really weird as it is described not as Psych, Prog, Rock but all of them at the same time. Dark, obscure, excellent arrangements, with a clear influence of Arthur Brown, it's definitely a tremendous advance in SECOND HAND'S career but at the same time was the beginning of the end.

After some members quit, the band changed their name to CHILLUM (who knows why?) and released an eponymous album, whic...
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Death May Be Your Santa ClausDeath May Be Your Santa Claus
Sunbeam Records 2010
Audio CD$13.70
$61.38 (used)
RealityReality
Sunbeam Records 2010
Audio CD$24.49
$26.20 (used)
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SECOND HAND discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SECOND HAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 14 ratings
Reality
1968
3.95 | 28 ratings
Death May Be Your Santa Claus
1971
2.20 | 11 ratings
Chillum (*)
1971

SECOND HAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SECOND HAND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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SECOND HAND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

SECOND HAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Death May Be Your Santa Claus   by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 28 ratings

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Death May Be Your Santa Claus
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I read somewhere that SECOND HAND named their album "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" after hearing about the underground film with the same name which was made by none other than Frankie Dymon Jr who is on this site for his music. Man this is one strange album that touches on Avant-Garde, Symphonic and Psychedelic music. There is a strong Proto-Prog vibe here(tons of organ) and the singer Rob Elliott was a big fan of Arthur Brown's vocals which certainly is obvious at times. While listening to this I thought of bands like Captain Beefheart, GENTLE GIANT and Frank Zappa. Besides the usual instruments we get mellotron on four tracks along with violin and vibes. It's so cool that Lol Coxhill guests here playing some disturbing sax(haha). This is an original, one of a kind listening experience, I'll say that. It took many spins to absorb and appreciate what was going on here but it was well worth the time.

"Death May Be Your Santa Claus" has a drum/ organ intro as these bizarre vocals that are quite wild come in. I'm thinking Krautrock for some reason. Love when the mellotron and those Arthur Brown-like vocals take over as these two themes will be contrasted throughout. "Hangin' On An Eyelid" might be my favourite track. This is brighter at first with vibes, bass and drums standing out then it picks up and the vocals join in. So good! The mellotron really impresses me here as it comes and goes. Piano and drums standout before 4 minutes as the vibes return as well.

"Lucifer And The Egg" is an uptempo organ driven tune with bass and a steady beat as the vocals come and go. I really like the instrumental section from 2 1/2 minutes to 5 minutes with all that atmosphere as the organ, drums and bass lead as they seem to jam. It turns experimental after 5 minutes, very psychedelic and strange as spoken words join in. Pulsating organ and vocals later on. "Somethin' You Got" really reminds me of GENTLE GIANT both vocally and instrumentally. Another favourite. Some fuzz in this one as well beginning before 2 minutes. Crazy vocals and vocal expressions follow.

There are two bonus tracks and I don't usually comment on bonus material unless I'm impressed but they've put these two tracks in back to back right in the middle of this recording which I haven't seen very often. First is "Dip It Out Of The Bog Fred" which is really out there with nature sounds and a multitude of weird samples that come and go. Adventerous for sure. Dissonant sax late. The other bonus song is "Baby R U Anudder Monster" with those silly Zappa- like vocals. They are replaced though by vocals sounding much like Captain Beefheart. A zany tune in many ways.

"Cyclops" is a fantastic tune and it's my co-favourite along with the second track. This is darker with organ at first before this thick and dark atmosphere invades the soundscape. Organ returns along with marching styled drums. Man it sounds incredible after 2 1/2 minutes, like experimental Krautrock really. Some faint violin before 4 1/2 minutes then the organ proceeds to dominate as the drums shuffle with bass helping out as well. "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" is a short haunting piece with a variety of sounds coming and going.

"Revelations Ch.16 Vs 9-12" features some cool sounding mellotron flute along with an experimental soundscape. It is quite majestic at times even though the subject matter from these versus is very bleak. "Take To The Skies" is another cool soundscape with an urgent rhythm with plenty of organ. "Death May Be Your Santa Claus(Reprise)" is longer and different sounding from the first track it's named after. Dramatic spoken words with a freaked out soundscape as mellotron also helps out. It kicks in before a minute to an uptempo groove. Mellotron flute later. "Funeral" ends it all and it's really orchestral sounding to start but it settles when the vocals join in. It picks up and it's quite catchy here as those orchestral sounds return.

Well if you want innovative and adventerous look no further than this album. It has to be heard to be believed. Not for the faint of heart. Great album!

 Chillum (*) by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.20 | 11 ratings

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Chillum (*)
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Like an insane instrumental Canterbury band soundtracking the end of the world, `Chillum' is a difficult but hugely fascinating album that will easily divide listeners. Some will relish it's noisy tuneless chaos, thinking it was way ahead of it's time, others a total useless mess of bad ideas that will make them flee in terror for a safer listen! I fall somewhere right in the middle - one listen I'll find it an endlessly intriguing psychedelic knockout, the next time it'll drive me up the wall and I'll remove the album in disgust. Try not to be listening to the album too loud if you start to react negatively to it, as it may cause quite a violent reaction in you!

After a fairly rubbish comical introduction, the band charges head-first into the aptly titled `Brain Strain', a 21 minute side-long piece which may be the breaking point to a first time listener. A noisy and seemingly directionless freak-out, filled with a million musical ideas that occasionally work brilliantly, and other times fall a little flat, it does showcase some interesting and talented musicians. The endless extended fuzzy and scuzzy organ by Ken Elliot reminds me of a more unhinged and deranged version of Canterbury band Egg, and that sound dominates much of this track. Tony McGill's guitar work is frequently tuneless, bendy and shrill, but also quite imaginative. He comes across like a more deranged and sloppy Syd Barrett on the improv workouts on Pink Floyd's debut or the `Tonite Let's All Make Love In London' LP. George Hart's bass playing has a hypnotic and dreamy quality, frequently plodding and monotonous but also very fluid and loose. It's a bit of a stretch to say it helps the music really groove in places, because moments like that only last a few seconds before the next aimless direction kicks in. I feel Kieran O'Connor's drum-work and percussion really steals this piece. Frantic, fiery and lively, with the musician quickly adapting back and forth to the different directions and musical paths the album treads down. He really helps hold the piece together - as much as possible, anyway.

Side Two's all too brief `Land Of A Thousand Dreams' is a brief musical lullaby with restful Mellotron and pretty piano. It then segues into a very repetitive and mostly mundane percussion piece called `Too Many Bananas' that barely changes for it's four minute running time. The ten minute `Yes! We Have No Pajamas' is a very loose but oddly coherent workout. There's a real energetic groove to this one, with lots of knockout Hammond and pounding drum-work. Some very laid-back, almost bluesy guitar plays over some lively and melodic bass. Actually quite an upbeat piece, in a few brief moments it reminds me of a messier version of Focus. Probably for wary listeners, this track may be the best place to start with this album, but in some way it doesn't prepare you for the mind-breaking noise of the first side. `Promenade Des Anglaises' is a simple but lovely acoustic ditty with gentle percussion, some slight tasteful keys and Mellotron washes. A nice comedown to wrap the album on.

I really appreciate that the `Chillum' album is totally instrumental, as I found the previous band Second Hand's work was somewhat let down by comical vocals that were obviously hugely amusing to the band members themselves, but sabotaged their potentially interesting ideas to listeners. I do find that, for all it's chaos, noise and seemingly random arrangements, there's a very interesting and frequently exciting album here. The band seems to relish playing in such an unhinged and random fashion on the first side, while the second half shows their music is not completely devoid of a good tune or melody.

Three and a half stars!

 Chillum (*) by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.20 | 11 ratings

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Chillum (*)
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

1 stars This is a condemnation, not a celebration of prog.

Clearly 'Chillum' is an improvised jam displaying no structure or finesse whatsoever. Ugly, tuneless guitars, random drums, and a bass guitar that's played by someone who's obviously wearing a pair of boxing gloves, displays all of what's worst from the early 70's.

These guys play their instruments like they've never been in possession of a pair of hands.

This is an directionless, poorly recorded album and I find it very hard to believe that these same guys went on to produce one of the best, most bonkers prog albums the following year with the fantastic 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus'.

Listening to this prequel however, is the equivalent of rubbing vinegar into the eyes of kittens. As soon as I turn it on I can't wait for it to finish. Totally unstructured, where you can clearly hear the hesitancy between breaks as the band try and work out where to go next.

While writing the above review I worried that I'd get so annoyed I'd give myself an aneurysm.

If truth be told this may well be the poorest recording I've assessed in the Archives in over 200 reviews. Only 'Hairy Chapter's - Eyes'. comes close. At its conclusion I'm left with nothing but a cloud of depression like a nuclear winter hanging over my shoulders.

At last...It's Over...I can go to sleep now...

 Death May Be Your Santa Claus   by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 28 ratings

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Death May Be Your Santa Claus
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is something of mental recording. One of the queerest rock albums I've ever heard and unless I'm much mistaken, 'Hanging on an Eyelid' is used in the excellent Donald pleasance horror film 'Death Line' Who are these people?... Are they completely mashed?...Which bands are they related to? I'm left with nothing but questions. There's bits of Beefheart, Out of Focus, Arthur Brown and early 70's Krautrock present - but it's got that indefinable British quirkiness about it that only they can do. It's colourful, cheery and downright weird in parts. It's also very difficult to describe. Such a pity they only recorded one dreadful album under the name of 'Chillum' after this.
 Chillum (*) by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.20 | 11 ratings

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Chillum (*)
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Featuring enough aimless psychedelic jamming to fill several albums twice over, this self-titled release from early-seventies rockers Chillum manages to delight and frustrate in equal measure. Originally called Second Hand, but reverting to the name Chillum after the relative failure of their 1971 'Second Hand' album, this ambitious and eclectic four-piece seemed to suffer from a complete inability to settle down into one dominant style or genre. 'Chillum' features some bravura moments of musicianship, but it's an uneven, at times rather crude mess of an album, featuring a plethora of different moods and textures that juxtapose badly. From the percussion-heavy assault of 'Land Of A Thousand Dreams' to the epic, freaked-out noodling of the 21-minute long 'Brain Strain', the album is a sonic shanty-town of conflicting ideas that fails to create a coherent whole. One suspects that maybe the band were under the influence of certain, mind-enhancing substances, which is no bad thing, but just like listening to someone drone on about their drug experiences 'Chillum' proves to be a rather dull listen. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
 Chillum (*) by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.20 | 11 ratings

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Chillum (*)
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Brendan

2 stars I don't have the heart to give this album 1 star, and maybe it is better than that anyway. I have the Chillum ...... plus version, which is much better. It has more songs, but no matter what, this album doesn't have any great songs on it. The track 'brain strain' is a big instrumental jam, but it is just that, a 'jam', not a structured song with any ideas. It is not a bad song, and whoever was playing was obviously very good, and one of the better songs here, but nevertheless a song that lacks any real meaning. I believe 'yes we have no Pyjamas!' is ten minutes more of the same jam. 'The land of a thousand dreams' is an interesting track, it features some 'snoring' I believe, and some pretty good keyboards and other sounds as well. That's about all you can say about this album.... one bonus track, celebration, was reworked into 'Dance of the Eloi' on the 'Things to come' album, but that is a better version than the one here. The rest is just jamming, silly songs like 'Introduction by Brain Surgeons from the Royal Free Hospital' and a total lack of inspiration.
 Reality by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.96 | 14 ratings

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Reality
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Brendan

2 stars It kind of pains me to give a small rating to this album. The tracks Mainliner and Reality are ambitious prog/psych epics with some very good instrumental sections.

But these guys were a new band just taking their first steps.They were barely 18 when laying this stuff down. Most of this stuff is 60's pop-rock, but really quirky. In the remastered CD I have Ken gives a little detail in the notes about what the songs are about. Well he may know what he's saying, but I can't figure out what he's saying. He's a weak singer in the first place and when his vocals get lost in the mix that doesn't help either. The best of the quirky pop-rock gems is the opening cut 'fairy-tales', some that ensue have good riffs and a semi-respectable chorus, but to over-analyse this album too much is silly; this was their 'starting point', and they were supposed to build on this. Remember the first Genesis album? You get my point.

Some people have come back to this album and claimed it to be a 'masterpiece', which is wrong. Like the music critic says in the liner notes "Second Hand are a group with a lot of potential". This is not a group 'at it's peak', yet the liner notes where Ken says that this is a wonderful album and it failed 'cause good music doesn't succeed is a bit rich. No sense of self-criticism or reflection? Maybe if you had done that, you might have realised that this music was very flawed. It has a lot of potential and has buckets and spades of artistic ambition, which is a good thing, but the band aren't gelling well, and the music sounds 'drunk' and the lyrics are very hard to understand. Work on those problems and you might have come up with some winners, oh well you released another four albums, but a lot of the bands' problems never went away.

Still, this album shows the band has a lot of potential, A LOT, but without proper guidance or record company interest, they never really achieved the potential.

 Death May Be Your Santa Claus   by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 28 ratings

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Death May Be Your Santa Claus
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Second Hand were a rather obscure psych-prog band form London who released this strange little album in the early 70's. I will admit right up front that I don't know a ton about this strange band but I do know that I really like this album. This album was recommended to me by a faithful reader of this website and I am very pleased that I picked it up. Musically this band would be a mix of Atomic Rooster, Arthur Brown and Brian Auger with the zaniness of Zappa tossed in for good measure. This album is loaded with lots of great keyboard work (organ, mellotron, piano) as well as bass and drum interplay. I would not recommend this album for the novice prog/psych head but for those who are looking for something completely different then you may want to track this rare gem down.
 Reality by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.96 | 14 ratings

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Reality
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The debut album from Second Hand which was released in 1968 and called Reality is a pretty psychadelic experience.

The music is heavily influenced by rock/ blues bands like Jimi Hendrix and Cream but in addition to that sound Ken Elliottīs vintage keyboards are a trademark in Second Handīs sound. His voice is very strong and humourous. This music seems to be made while having lots of fun and probably under the influence of various drugs.

Most songs are fairly ordinary rock songs with a psychadelic touch while Mainliner Reality is a 15 minute long song with lots of string arrangements. The most progressive track on Reality for sure.

The musicianship is allright but a bit sloppy. The production is muddy and far from clean but I guess thatīs the way the band thought it should be ( or maybe they just didnīt have enough money to buy themselves a better sound).

If your introduction to Second Hand was their second and most known album Death May Be Your Santa Claus this album probably wonīt blow you away. But on the other hand if you liked Death May Be Your Santa Claus this is a a nice way to see how they started out. Iīll rate Reality 3 small stars. Itīs a good psychadelic rock album with vintage keyboards and a great singer, but not much more than that. Iīll recommend that you start with Death May Be Your Santa Claus if youīre curious about Second Hand.

 Death May Be Your Santa Claus   by SECOND HAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 28 ratings

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Death May Be Your Santa Claus
Second Hand Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The second album from Second Hand is from 1971 and is called Death May Be Your Santa Claus, itīs a very tripped out and strange album but I think it is excellent. Itīs not very often you come across a band like this Iīll promise you that.

The music is dominated by Ken Elliottīs organ and mellotron playing, especially his organ is omnipresent. It has a very cool sound and with his occasional use of the mellotron this makes for an exciting listen. Lead singer Rob Elliot is also a real asset to Second Hand. He is a very diverse singer and a real entertainer. His vocal style ranges from manic distorted singing to mouse like singing in the vein of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. On Baby R U Anudda Monster he even does a really good Captain Beefheart impersonation. In many ways Death May Be Your Santa Claus reminds me of Arthur Brownīs Kingdom Comeīs album Galactic Zoo Dossier which is also from 1971. Death May Be Your Santa Claus is a lot better though. There are slight Gentle Giant influences in the instrumental interplay too.

Second Hand could have been in the RIO/ Avant genre with all these strange influences. All is not well though. The first 6 songs are superb examples of Second Handīs sound and style, but suddenly from song number 7 Cyclops through to song number 9 we are treated with some organ instrumental songs which I personally think is a waste of time. But with the last three songs Second Hand get back on track and treats us with some good songs, even though the last 3 songs never reaches the hights of the first 6.

The production is very good. I really enjoy the sound quality here.

My final evaluation will be 4 stars even though it is only about half of the album that is good. But the first 6 songs are masterpiece class in my ears and deserves more than a 3 star rating. I find this album highly recommendable even though there are flaws.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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