Various Artists

Dream Babes, Vol. 5: Folk Rock and Faithfull

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The word "folk-rock" seems to mean something different to everyone, and many fans might find Dream Babes, Vol. 5: Folk Rock and Faithfull, a compilation of 22 woman-sung 1965-1969 tracks to be more accurately pegged as "folk-rock-influenced pop/rock" than "folk-rock." Even if it's more featherweight than the Byrds (or for that matter the Mamas & the Papas), it's a pretty interesting and fun collection of rarities, most of them sung by British femmes and produced in the U.K. (though a couple of Australians sneak in, as does Jackie DeShannon's "Don't Turn Your Back on Me," recorded by the Californian in England). There's nothing here by Marianne Faithfull, despite the sly use of her name in the title. But the wispier and folkier tracks here certainly bear her influence, including those by Nico (her London-recorded cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "I'm Not Saying"), Vashti (represented by her rare 1966 single "Train Song"/"Love Song"), Gay Singleton's "In My Time of Sorrow" (a DeShannon-Jimmy Page composition also recorded by Faithfull, though Singleton's version is good too), Greta Ann's melodramatic "Sadness Hides the Sun," Gillian Hills's "Tomorrow Is Another Day" (the actress' only English-language release), and Trisha's 1965 single "The Darkness of My Night" (a Donovan composition that Donovan apparently never recorded himself, though it's not so hot). Some of these records opt for a far more elaborately arranged approach, though, with the Caravelles' 1967 single "Hey Mama You've Been on My Mind" sounding rather like Eric Andersen as sung by a girl group and produced by Phil Spector, and Gemini's "Sunshine River" (from Australia) pouring on the Byrds-y electric guitars. While some of these cuts are dull, there are other cool items as well, like "Bring It to Me" by Vashti pals Jennifer Lewis and Angela Strange; Judi Smith's gorgeous "Leaves That Come Tumbling Down," another Jackie DeShannon-Jimmy Page co-write; Australian Maggie Hammond's strong cover of "High Flying Bird," even if she does change the key lyric "I'm rooted like a tree" to the less effective "I'm tired as can be"; and Caroline Carter's "The Ballad of Possibilities (Come Along)," another obscure Jackie DeShannon song. The more traditional face of folk music even surfaces with Leonore Drewery's "Rue," probably better known under the title Pentangle used for the same tune, "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme." The folk-rock concept gets stretched pretty far to include Angelina's "Wishing My Life Away," which seems more influenced by Buddy Holly and Joe Meek. But if that's what it takes to get worthwhile rarities like those issued, why not?

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