Richard Cook, "The Girl Can't Help It"
New Musical Express, May 25, 1985
"He used to have naked yoga parties and I used to spy. They wore wigs and put on light shows." BRIX SMITH reveals all to RICHARD COOK about childhood in the hippy era and her solo venture with THE ADULT NET in praise of psychedelia.
"IS THAT a girl? Oh look at him ... he looks like Paul Williams!" Brix Smith is examining the group photo on Strawberry Alarm Clock's 'Incense And Peppermints' LP, temporarily plucked from Cook's archive. And these overweight dopes were responsible for that sparkling niblet of '67 paisly bubblegum? The Fall's Mrs Smith has chosen the song for a solo single project, abetted by a mystery group of stars called The Adult Net. Isn't she too young to remember such a timewarped bauble as this, though?
"'Incense And Peppermints' came out when I was four, and I think I must have heard it a lot subconsciously because when I heard it again when I was 16 - I knew it! My mother used to take me to Sunset Strip and I saw all the hippies and freaks and things ... it's like those really early memories that get ingrained on your brain."
And partnering the top side is a singularly sparky version of the Fall chestnut 'Rebellious Jukebox' (under the title 'Searching For The Now') .
"I think the singing on the original is better," is Brix's modest verdict. "The drops and falls in Mark's voice are perfect. But I think the production on the new one is a hundred million times better, a big hard heavy sound. "I loved the songs, I wanted to form an unknown band with no pressure and sing and have fun and make a song that wasn't depressing or political, that was humorous - one that you felt full and satisfied at the end of. I tend to write heavy songs with The Fall, like 'Lay Of The Land', and there's a lot of humour but it's pressurised."
The blonde, toothy Californian sits on a pink cushion and looks disagreeable at the thought of the record fitting in with today's motheaten psychedelia.
"It's a pity that it had to come out in this huge psychedelic trend. The word 'psychedelic' is bad and over-used. 'Incense And Peppermints' is really much more poppy. It's true to its roots. It hasn't picked up bits from all the decades along the way."
True enough. The Net's rendition is as goofy and sticky-sweet as the original. Brix's other favourite toon, as she shyly confesses, is The Stooges' 'Sick Of You' - some antidote. What else does she remember from 1967?
"There was a hippy that lived upstairs from us. One day he said, I'm so stoned, and I didn't know what that was so I asked my mother. She said, that means drunk. And he used to have naked yoga parties and I used to spy. They wore wigs and put on light shows. I was lucky, in a way, being at the heart of it.
"I remember things like clothes I used to have, and toys ... my grandparents bought me a Suzy homemaker oven for children which really cooks. One day we put these vitamins in the oven and forgot and my mom took us to the movies ... and we came back and the oven had melted. It was all wavy and melty. We ate the vitamins and it was the most nauseating taste."
Do you eat brown rice?
"I'm not a health nut. I LOVE MEAT! Juicy steaks, teriyaki ... I eat a lot of vegetables too. But I don't eat brown rice or brown bread. Don't like the taste of it."
Ever been on a bad trip?
"I've never taken LSD. My mind's like that already. I'm scared to take it, anyway."
One other thing to complete the lifelines: your favourite colour? Coral pink? Banana yellow?
"Black! I always wear black, I can't help it!"