Second Hand was a somewhat obscure British psychedelic band from the late '60s, yet even on their first record from 1968 they were showing progressive touches earlier than most bands. The group, led by Ken Elliott, was originally called the Next Collection in the mid-'60s. They changed their name to Moving Finger, and in 1968 were signed to Polydor Records, but when it was discovered that another band already had that name, they renamed themselves Second Hand, in reference to the fact that all their instruments and other gear had been bought used. At this time the group consisted of Elliot on keyboards and vocals, Bob Gibbons on lead guitar, Kieran O'Connor on drums, and Nick South on bass, and on their debut recording Chris Williams added cello, flute, and saxophone as as guest musician. Polydor released the record, Reality, that same year. The record is often considered a few years ahead of its time, though the vocals are a little weak. In 1969, the opening track of the LP, "A Fairy Tail" was released as a single.
In 1970, Vic Keary, the producer of Second Hand's debut and a close friend of Elliott's, started Mushroom Records to release albums by Second Hand and a couple of other artists, including folk singer Simon Finn. By now, Gibbons and South had both departed, and new members George Hart (on bass) and Elliott's brother Rob (on vocals) had joined, but the band had trouble finding a regular guitarist. Moggy Mead filled in on guitar when the group was touring France, and even appeared on their second album. In the early '70s, the group often had better luck finding gigs in Continental Europe, with much success in France, Spain, Germany, and Holland.
The group's second album, Death May Be Your Santa Claus, was recorded during off-hours at Chalk Farm Studios, where Keary worked as an engineer. The LP came out on April 1, 1971 on Mushroom, and at the same time, Second Hand was playing a rock band in a controversial underground movie that was showing at that time, also titled Death May Be Your Santa Claus which was made a couple years earlier.
Rob Elliott soon quit the group, and Second Hand had finally found a regular guitarist, Tony McGill, who also became the band's accountant. The group went to work in 1971 on what was supposed to be their third album, but by the time they finished it, they had changed their name to Chillum, and Mushroom released the eponymous Chillum record near the end of that year. By then, Hart had walked out on the band without a word, and by the middle of the next year, the Mushroom label folded, and so had Chillum.
Ken Elliott and Kieran O'Connor went on as an electronic rock duo under the name Seventh Wave, and released a couple albums in the mid-'70s before O'Connor dropped out of the group. After that, Elliott went into far less creative but more financially beneficial work composing jingles and TV themes. O'Connor eventually died of alcoholism in the mid-'80s. ~ Rolf Semprebon