Various Artists

Chocolate Soup for Diabetics, Vol. 1-3

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These three volumes of obscure '60s British psychedelic treasures are slightly tainted by dubbed-from-disc sound quality; the transfers also made the records play faster than their actual speed. The music, however, is mostly terrific, the cream of a very fertile U.K. scene that gave birth to dozens of little-known classics and near classics during its brief apogee in 1966-68. The influence of the Who, Syd Barrett--era Pink Floyd, and 1967 Beatles runs rampant, but most of it's too idiosyncratic to be dismissed as imitative. You could actually say that this was the genre of rock music that most effectively balanced exuberant melodies/harmonies with imaginative experimentation. If that nutshell description sounds appealing, you won't be disappointed by the gems on offer from Tintern Abbey, Dantalian's Chariot, One in a Million, Big Boy Pete, Mike Stuart Span, Syn, and numerous others. A lot of the tracks have been since reissued in better fidelity on sanctioned re-releases, but some are hard to find anywhere else but on these anthologies, which are now themselves sought-after collector's items.