Various Artists

British Psychedelic Trip, Vol. 4

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If the fourth volume of this series is "psychedelic," it's really British psychedelia of the mildest and poppiest sort. You'd figure as much from a 20-track LP including tracks by groups named Tinkerbell's Fairydust, Amazing Friendly Apple, Cherry Smash, Toby Twirl, Love Children, and the Chocolate Watch Band (a British outfit, and an entirely different one than the respected Californian garage-psychedelic one of the same name). The material's limited in scope to cuts released on the Decca label in the U.K., but that's not the only drawback that keeps this out of the top-tier of British psychedelic compilations. Even if the pop side of U.K. psych is your thing, these really aren't very interesting songs for the most part, nor do the groups usually do much to indicate they should have had greater exposure. It's often merry and fruity to the point of being cotton-candy sweet, showing more influence from West Coast sunshine pop and soul than most stuff in the genre. Indeed, such is the concentration on cheery songs with gratuitously period production touches that some might question whether this is fairly classified as psychedelia at all; it's certainly a long way from, for example, early Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, and Traffic. One notable exception is the Poets' "That's the Way It's Got to Be," a terrific slice of pulsating mod rock/freakbeat -- and not, as good as it is, a psychedelic song, no matter how many excuses might be vainly made. Also off a different path, though just about qualifying as psychedelic-influenced, is Al Stewart's unlikely cover of the Yardbirds' "Turn into Earth" from an early single. Fans of '60s British rock will also recognize Timebox, whose "Walking Through the Streets of My Mind" is one of the better songs, and Peter Lee Stirling, who wrote hits for the Merseybeats before trying his hand as a solo artist on the 1967 single "8:35 on the Dot" (included here), which is slightly reminiscent of very early Cat Stevens. With so many other, very superior British psychedelic rarities compilations having been produced (some of which include material heard on this LP), however, this has to be rated near the bottom of such projects, and would provide a highly misleading introduction to British psychedelia if it was taken as representative of the style as a whole.