Various Artists

Canterburied Sounds, Vol. 1

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The Canterburied Sounds collection is alternately edifying and disappointing, nowhere more so than on its first volume. This volume is primarily focused on the Wilde Flowers, gathering odds and ends that hadn't appeared on the excellent overview of this under-recorded prototype of all Canterbury bands. This includes such potential gems as the earliest known recording of any of this creative axis: two songs recorded in late 1962 by Brian Hopper and Robert Wyatt (the bizarrely droning, folkish "Mummie"); one, "Man in the Deaf Corner," also features keyboardist Mike Ratledge and bassist Hugh Hopper, making it in essence the very first Soft Machine recording. The problem -- aside from the forgivably but nevertheless annoyingly dodgy sound on most of these home-recorded demos -- is that many of these songs are aimless jams and tiresome experiments that even the most die-hard fans might find kind of dull; one would have to be monomaniacally devoted to the Canterbury Scene to make it over halfway into the 12-minute Mike Ratledge/Brian Hopper duet "Da-Da-Dee/Bolivar Blues," and the live rehearsal/jam of "You Really Got Me" and "Thinking of You Baby" sounds like the work of a sloppy garage band that's broken into dad's beer stash. Two early psychedelic explorations by Caravan bookend the album, but while neither is actually bad, they're not lost treasures, either. For historical purposes only.

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