Various Artists

Fading Yellow, Vol. 4: Light, Smack, Dab

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"Timeless UK 60's Popsike & Other Delights" is the apt subtitle of this 25-track collection, which spotlights obscurities from the lighter side of slightly psychedelic-influenced British pop/rock of the late '60s. There are a few artists here who had commercial success, like Wayne Fontana, Dave Berry, future Foreigner member Mick Jones (as part of the J. & B.), and future 10cc members Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley (as part of the awkwardly named Frabjoy & Runcible Spoon). But basically this is a pretty deep archival dig through material that hasn't often seen the light of day since its original release, in a genre that's never been the most heavily mined of 1960s styles. It's one of the best such digs, too, even though as a 1,000-copy limited edition, it didn't get the exposure of some of CD reissues with a similar concentration. While some of the elements of pop-sike that drive earthier listeners up the wall -- fruity orchestration, florid lyrics, twee preciousness -- are here to varying degrees, their quotient is considerably lighter than usual on this anthology. It's true you still might want to be in the mood for something on the light side before hearing all of it at once, but the focus is more on decent pop songs with imaginative arrangements and an occasionally (admittedly mild) touch of freakiness than the airy-fairy stuff. Some of the tracks are outstanding, like the J. & B.'s unaccountably seldom-anthologized "There She Goes," which is like a cinematic look at the melancholic underbelly of Swinging London; the Candlelight's quite fine makeover of the Merseybeat-era relic "That's What I Want" into staunch baroque pop with stirring vocal harmonies; Piccadilly Line's "At the Third Stroke," which is as much melodic folk-rock as pop-sike; Toyshop's "Send My Love to Lucy," whose singer sounds uncannily like Stephen Stills; and Fontana's "In My World," perhaps his best solo effort sans the Mindbenders. Even some of the less distinguished and more ornate cuts remain listenable as they pass by, without getting overly sickly sweet.

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