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Lemon Tree

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Biography

The Lemon Tree were one of a coterie of psychedelic pop groups who sprang up in Birmingham, England, in the mid- to late '60s. Like the Idle Race, the Nocturnes, and most of their Birmingham compatriots, their music was close in spirit to the Move, a cheerful, celebratory, and upbeat account of life in a world lit by a psychedelic glow. The group -- Mike Hopkins (guitar), Mick Taylor (vocals), Gary Wortley (organ), Derek Arnold (bass), and Keith Smart (drums) -- actually had a pretty good pedigree from the get-go; Hopkins was previously a member of Denny & the Diplomats with Denny Laine (in the latter's pre-Moody Blues days) and Smart played with Danny King & the Mayfair Set, whence Roy Wood and Trevor Burton cut their teeth before forming the Move. The latter group wasn't too far in body or spirit from the Lemon Tree -- the quintet was signed by Parlophone Records in 1968 and made their debut with "William Chaulker's Time Machine" b/w "I Can Touch a Rainbow," the A-side of which was written by Ace Kefford, who had just exited the Move, and produced by Kefford, Trevor Burton, and the Amen Corner's Andy Fairweather-Low. It failed to chart, and only Fairweather-Low was aboard for their second and final single, "It's So Nice to Come Home" b/w "Come on Girl," in 1969. After their breakup in 1969, Mike Hopkins moved on to the Idle Race while Smart passed through the final lineup of the Uglys, who transformed themselves into Balls and also played with Roy Wood's Wizzard and the '70s progressive rock outfit Mongrel before disappearing. "William Chaulker's Time Machine" has resurfaced on several '60s psychedelic compilations, including See for Miles Records' mid-'80s era Sixties Backbeat. ~ Bruce Eder