Dr Strangely Strange were an Irish counterpart of The Incredible String Band, who moved from an experimental folk base into an LSD-fuelled, but tongue-in-cheek, blend of mythology, childlike whimsy and unfettered imagination.
Irishman Tim Booth had graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, where he met Englishman Ivan Pawle. The duo began gigging with friend Brian Tench before they met Tim Goulding, an Irishman who had returned from school in England to be a painter.
The band lived and rehearsed in a house owned by Goulding’s girlfriend, backing vocalist Orphan Annie (aka Annie Xmas) which was thus nicknamed ‘The Orphanage’.
Booth eventually created a second Orphanage, which became the cradle for a new generation of Irish rock, with the likes of Phil Lynott and Gary Moore from Thin Lizzy hanging out there.
Their debut album – Kip Of The Serenes – documents the three-month period in 1969 when it was socially acceptable to play the mandolin while wearing a clumsily constructed papier-mache chicken’s head.
The LP was a percussion-free fusion of trad folk, minstrel japery and prehistoric murk, executed with off-key abandon.
Touring Britain, they supported the likes of Fotheringay but found they needed a heavier sound to fill concert halls. They recruited drummer Neil Hopwood out of the audience during a gig in Wales . . .
The group embraced a rock-based style on Heavy Petting (1970), with guitarist Gary Moore guesting on four of the tracks, including the humorous but catchy I Gave My Love An Apple.
Dr Strangely Strange disbanded in 1971 following their appearance on Mike Heron’s all-star solo album, Smiling Men With Reputations.
Goulding retreated to a Buddhist monastery, while Pawle and Booth joined forces with Gay & Terry Woods for a brief tour, then called it a day.
They reunited for a short Irish tour in 1973 and brought in synthesizers for some cameo appearances in the early 80s, the highlight of which was a live version of Donnybrook Fair. They also provided the soundtrack for a film written by Tim Booth.
The band regrouped 25 years later for Alternative Medicine (1997). The album is an extremely Irish affair, tuneful and relaxed with some good instrumentals.
Vocals, bass, keyboards
Vocals, keyboards, fiddle
Caroline “Linus” Greville