The Shamen

Strange Day Dreams

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A bit of a catchall release -- one of several such overlapping efforts that seemed to characterize the group's work in the late '80s and early '90s -- Strange Day Dreams contains various B-sides and oddities from the band's psych-revival days starting to shade into later acid house love. The feeling is more the former than the latter, though, thanks to the inclusion of a clutch of Syd Barrett covers -- both "Long Gone" and "Golden Hair" are treated sweetly enough, though they're not terribly remarkable. Slightly paralleling but not replicating the American What's Going Down? collection, Strange Day Dreams has no real rhyme or reason to its assembly -- B-sides, A-sides, extended versions, and live versions are all jumbled up together, making it a listen more remarkable on a song-by-song basis. Often the results shimmer -- "Grim Reaper of Love," glowering title aside, is a marvelous combination of late-'60s psych(otic) vibes and Cocteau Twins-style blissout, while "Fire Engine" rocks out pretty damn well. Other times the intent is good but the execution isn't quite there -- "Christopher Mayhew Says a Lot" kicks up a reasonably aggro electro-funk background to the found sound sample providing the "lyrics," but it's not as monstrous as, say, World Domination Enterprises was around the same time. "Darkness in Zion" takes a far darker and shorter approach that, while not as danceable, is much more successful at setting a mood. The murky live version of the title track could have done with a better recording, but the album does conclude with the studio take that brings out the full Electric Prunes-for-another-decade mania nicely enough.

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