Various Artists

Fading Yellow, Vol. 5: Gone Are The Days

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Like the previous volume in this long-running series of '60s pop-psychedelia with the emphasis on the "pop," this has rarities from the U.K. branch of the retrospectively named "pop-sike" genre. The 22 tracks are mostly by artists whose names are unfamiliar even to many specialist collectors. (Hats off if you're intimate with the career details of Toast, Angel Pavement, Sunchariot, Vigrass & Osborne, and Almond Marzipan.) They're not all complete unknowns; Billy Nicholls achieved a belated high reputation among sunshine pop aficionados, Mike Batt went on to the Wombles, and Micky Jones (whose cut was done as half of a duo with Tommy Brown) later achieved fame as Mick Jones in Foreigner. It seems as if the focus is a bit more on a frothier yet lighter shade of British pop-sike than was on exhibit in the quite decent fourth volume (Fading Yellow, Vol. 4) of this series. That might make it a relative disappointment to those who like the earthier folk-rockish melodic side of the genre, but will probably be more attractive to fans of sunshine pop. The material is uniformly well arranged and produced, often orchestrally so, and surprisingly so considering how obscure most of these artists and releases were. However, the settings are often more impressive than the tunes, some of which are on the so-so or even forgettable side. There are a good number of exceptions, though, some standouts being the weird synthetic sounds in Vigrass & Osborne's "Forever Autumn"; Nicholls' "This Song Is Green," which is far folkier than most of its surroundings; Cats Eyes' dramatic interpretation of the classic apocalyptic folk song "Come Away Melinda"; Marvin, Welch & Farrar's very folkish "Tiny Robin," with two ex-members of the Shadows; and Micky Jones & Tommy Brown's "Alice," which has a really robust orchestral arrangement. There's enough here to reward devotees of this mini-genre, but probably not enough in this 1,000-copy limited-edition CD for others to justify the effort to seek it out.

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