It’s 1984, and something strange and – for the most part – rather unnoticed has been bubbling away in the corners of a music world that we might kindly say had been lacking excitement for a few years. A resurgence of interest in psychedelic garage rock had led to fanzines, new labels specialising in reissues, odd compilations and new bands that were in thrall to psych and garage punk. On the one hand, there was the Paisley Underground – bands like The Long Ryders, The Rain Parade and Green on Red, who were loved by critics but unable to break into the mainstream in any significant way (the only bands who did make it big from that scene were fringe travellers like The Bangles and, arguably, R.E.M.). On the other, there were the likes of the Fuzztones, Dr and the Medics and others who played with the sounds and the imagery of the 1965 – 1969 era.
And then there were the mystery acts who proved to be not what they seemed. The Dukes of Stratosphear were hyped as a mysterious, newly discovered psych act, but were actually a spin-off of XTC, and they released a couple of albums that outsold XTC’s ‘official’ LPs at the time. More interesting, and more mysterious, were Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, the unknown band behind the soundtrack to the equally unknown 1967 acid-drenched exploitation film Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy.
In 1984, there was no internet to allow researchers to look up even the most obscure movies. The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film was a couple of years away. There was no Something Weird. All this information on previously forgotten films was bubbling away under the surface, but at the time, it was entirely plausible that Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy might have been a real film that was lost in the vaults of director ‘Quarry Richards’ or whoever owned ‘American Screen Destiny Pictures’. After all, weird movies that we’d never heard of before were clogging up the shelves of video stores. And weird music that we had never heard of before was filtering through vis Nuggets compilations and assorted imitators.
The music certainly sounded authentic – as well it might, being covers of some familiar (and some obscure) garage-psych hits of the era, including the Electric Prunes’ I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night. This might have raised eyebrows, but it was just possible that even if Naz Nomad and the Nightmares wasn’t an authentic band, they might have at least been a collective of session men, created just for this project, as many a 1960s youth film soundtrack band was…
…or they might have been The Damned. As indeed it turns out that they were. The music press played along with the joke, while dropping just enough hints to allow fans to work out the connection themselves. Hiding under (other) pseudonyms – Dave Vanian was Nomad, Roman Jugg was Sphinx Svenson, Rat Scabies was Nick Detroit and so on – the band did press interviews and then, inevitably, played a handful of gigs, on and off, until 1992 (they’d actually first performed as The Nightmares in 1983).
Listened to now, the album remains an entertaining slice of faux-psych – at the time nostalgic, now seeming even weirder because the LP itself is an authentically vintage piece. I’d still be up for a Naz Nomad live show, even now… and I really wish that Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy was a real film.
Here’s the band performing I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night in 1989.