Various Artists

Flower Power Generation: Aquarius

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This is an unintentionally odd collection of what is supposed to be psychedelic-era hits with a uniquely British twist. For starters, despite the presence of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" by the Fifth Dimension, the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park," the Hollies' "On a Carousel," the Zombies' "Time of the Season," and "Good Day Sunshine" by the Tremeloes, most everything else here either falls well outside psychedelia -- the Searchers' "Sugar and Spice" and Manfred Mann's "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" being the most extreme examples -- or is a distinctly British-spawned cover of a Beatles song. The latter are kind of a treat for their diversity, ranging from early-'60s Cockney rocker Joe Brown's 1967 single of "With a Little Help from My Friends" through Jackie Trent's pop-oriented "Got to Get You into My Life" to Prelude's richly harmonized "Here Comes the Sun," the Amen Corner's soul-shouting rendition of "Get Back," and Tomorrow's ornate, guitar-heavy reworking of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (featuring Steve Howe on the lead instrument). The makers have also found a cheerfully trippy Blue Mink piece called "The Bannerman," which fits into these surroundings a good deal better than most listeners would expect from any of their work. It's all a shameless exploitation of the EMI, Pye, Immediate, and Castle Records catalogs that works out just fine for the odd and unexpected, and might even surprise a few people expecting something more routine and accessible. Even the absence of any annotation can be forgiven when one allows for the excellent sound.

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