In The Past


In The Past (1966) by We The People.

Thanks to Modzilla in the comments for yesterday’s post I’ve been listening to different versions of In The Past all day. I always found the Chocolate Watchband rendition to be very catchy, the kind of song you’d expect to be covered by other bands even though the version in yesterday’s playlist is the work of session musicians under the direction of producer Ed Cobb. The original song is an uptempo number written by Wayne Proctor and recorded in 1966 by his garage outfit, We The People, a group I knew of already since two of their songs are featured on the Nuggets CD box. In The Past isn’t one of them, however, so I hadn’t heard it until today. More surprising is seeing the amount of times it’s been covered since. Lava lamps and false eyelashes at the ready, here’s a quick summary of a musical obsession.


La Fermeture Eclair (1966) by Delphine.

The title translates as The Zipper Closure (?). Delphine was a Belgian singer who recorded a handful of singles. This seems to be her most popular song (see below), and a regular inclusion on compilations such as this. The YouTube video matches the music to shots from Vera Chytilová’s marvellous Daisies (1966).


In The Past (1968) by The Chocolate Watchband.

Posted again so I get a chance to show the (uncredited) collage cover. Cobb and co. add sitar flourishes worthy of Bill Laswell.


In The Past (1997) by The Loons.

A contemporary garage band. No YT version, unfortunately.


In The Past (2009) by Satan’s Pilgrims.

An instrumental version that brings out the latent surfiness of that guitar line. I wouldn’t mind hearing the rest of this album.


La Fermeture Eclair (2012) by Les Terribles.

A cover of the Delphine version by a French band.


In The Past (2012) by Ulver.

This one slipped me by a couple of years ago, a whole collection of psychedelic cover versions (“Lost and found from the Age of Aquarius”) by Ulver. A slower, heavier version, and rather fabulous. Oversight corrected, this album is now on order.

7 thoughts on “In The Past”

  1. Here’s a coincidence, John: I played the We The People version on my radio show this past Saturday. As follows, a link to the playlist and streaming-DL of the 2 hour show:

    As always, { feuilleton } is a blast. Just came home from a recreation of Sylvere Lotringer’s ‘Cinema Is A Virus’ event at the Redcat Theater in downtown Los angeles. proceedings commenced with a screening on Burroughs/Gysin/Blach film ‘The Cutups,’ then proceeded on through a survey of downtown NYC alt-cinema circa ’78-’81, plus Bruce Connor’s “Mongoloid” film for the DEVo song. As I lived in Tribeca during that era, and several of the principals were on hand, it all felt a bit like old home week.

  2. The distinctly Middle Eastern-flavoured musical motif is provided by an Octachord, an eight-stringed instrument resembling a large mandolin, crafted by a friend of the band’s grandfather.

    Charleroi-native Delphine Bury’s career was brief and her biography mostly blank, with only 3 much sought after EPs to know her by.

    ‘In the Past’s backing track, without the band’s consent or royalties paid, made its way across the Atlantic and into the hands of We the People’s Belgian Decca label mate.

    Lyricist Jean Lapierre’s new narrative tells of a girl protecting her honour against a pushy boy’s unwanted advances; Delphine’s rousing refrain “Et Je tiens ferme, L’oeil sur la fermature eclair!” roughly translating as “I stand firm, my eyes on your flies!”
    The track lingered in obscurity until its inclusion on 1997’s ‘Il sont fou ces Gaulois: vol 2’ and many French compilations subsequently, with We the People’s guitarist and main songwriter only recently made aware of its existence.

  3. Now, informed by this post and Vadim’s footnote, I realize that I played Delphine’s version on my show seven weeks previously. How I managed not to twig to the obvious, ever-so-recognizable Octachord intro of “Le Fermeture-Eclair” is beyond me and a bit embarrassing too. Thanks, John! Thanks, Vadim!

  4. You may well have played the ‘We the People’ cut – Delphine’s backing track is an unauthorised use of the original US recording. Delphine’s backing is slightly sped (or pitched) up, they’re otherwise identical apart from the vocal.

    Rhys Webb from ‘The Horrors’ often plays both tracks consecutively in his DJ sets.

  5. Vadim: Thanks for the info. Listening to the Delphine and We The People recordings side-by-side yesterday my suspicions were alerted by how similar they sounded. But without confirmation it would have seemed a stretch to believe that the original tapes had somehow been hijacked.

    Also, the vaguely Middle Eastern quality is certainly part of the appeal for me. I’ve always liked the timbres and scales of Middle Eastern music wherever they manifest. Misirlou is another example of this, originally a Greek (or Turkish) tune before being propelled into the rock’n’roll world by Dick Dale and co.

  6. Thanks for this post. There’s an excellent 2cd of all We the People’s 60s recording (Sundazed records) which you probably already know about.

  7. The Satan’s Pilgrims album is well worth checking out – a witty recreation of those “how to blow your mind” studio musician exploitation albums that used to be so derided by psych collectors until recently, but often sound more authentic and interesting than some of the products of real hippies

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