Unreal: The Anthology

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It was John McCoy who, in 1997, pushed band managers Peter & Shirley Purnell into launching a record label, Angel Air, which was inaugurated by the bassist's own Think Hard Again album. A decade on and both the company's catalog and McCoy's canon have grown considerably; it's appropriate that Angel Air has celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a retrospective of their first signing. McCoy's Unreal: The Anthology traces the bassist's extensive career across a two-CD set guided by the artist himself. In the expansive booklet McCoy starts at the beginning, breezily charting the myriad bands he's worked with over the years. Not all of them are featured on the CD, but the bulk are, kicking off with Welcome, a group from the late '60s/early '70s. The Coolies Zzebra, and Quadrant followed before McCoy, (aka the first incarnation of Samson), was formed, which itself birthed the Ian Gillan Band. The bassist has no axe to grind, however, looking back at the past only with delight at the high points, not dwelling on the lows. The '70s were a busy time which also saw McCoy working with Neo, VHF, and scoring a huge hit with John Du Cann. The '80s were nearly as intensive, a decade which saw the bassist join Atomic Rooster in the studio, as well as forming Mammoth and Thunderstick/McCoy/Torme. Sometimes, McCoy is sketchy on the details of the recordings, fans would inevitably appreciate a bit more information on the alternate Gillan tracks. He also skips over much of the '80s, but fans will forgive that. With tracks pulled from McCoy's own archives, the back shelves, his solo album, and, bringing it bang up to date with his latest project, a number from GMT, this anthology is one hell of a ride, but still only scratches the surface of this prolific artist.

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