Various Artists

Great British Psychedelic Trip, Vol. 1: 1966-1969

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From the audio archivists at the U.K.-based See for Miles reissue label comes the CD incarnation of The Great British Psychedelic Trip -- a highly acclaimed compilation of long-forgotten hits and considerably more misses. Circa 1986, the label released four single-LP volumes under the same title. This disc is the first in a series of three CDs that recompiles the four records into the digital domain. Seekers of highly obscure music from the late ‘60s are in for a certain treat, particularly enthusiasts of ‘60s Brit-pop -- which is a more apt description of the music found here -- as the term "psychedelic" inevitably conjures images of extended instrumentals and loosely arranged jams. This brilliant music is nothing if not well arranged and succinctly presented in true pop song style. A majority of the artists and bands on this disc may not have made much of a dent in the charts or at the cash registers, however as the contents reveal, many of them definitely had the talent. The first two CDs in this series gather some of the lesser-known artists who recorded at least one single for Decca U.K.'s new "progressive" spin-off label, Deram Records, launched in the fall of 1965. Many of the bands during this era took their cues as much from American garage and the burgeoning underground rock movement as they did from their native Carnaby Street and the concurrent mod scene. Even though these artists might not have made an impact equal to that of the Who, the Small Faces, or Love and the 13th Floor Elevators, they certainly were kindred spirits in a sonic sense. While there is nary a dud amongst the 26 tracks on this compilation, there are a few most exceptional works worthy of revisitation. Most notably are the Californians cover of Warren Zevon's "Follow Me" -- which he recorded with Tule Livingston under the guise of Lyme & Cybelle. This rendering is an inspired, harpsichord-driven and tambourine-tapping masterpiece and would have been the ultimate vehicle for the Monkees. "Red Sky at Night" -- not to be confused with a similarly titled song by the Fixx -- is among the heavier pieces on this volume. With the noir aura of King Crimson and ravaged fretwork reminiscent of Black Sabbath, the Accents unleash a track that pre-dates heavy metal by nearly two years. There are also a few early appearances from artists who would later go on to more notable things. If the song title "Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye" sounds extraordinary enough to have been a Rutles parody, the reality is that the band Timebox was a seminal stomping ground for both Pete "Ollie" Halsall (bass) and John Halsey (drums) -- who co-wrote the track. Despite the absurd name, this uptempo performance contains a Halsey-led rhythm akin to something Dave Clark might have been able to pull off. The track "Shades of Orange" was co-composed by Rolling Stone Bill Wyman during the brief period that he managed the End -- a project taken on at the urging of Stones producer Glyn Johns. Indeed, the song sounds steeped in the Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request, because, according to Dinnes Cruickshank's fascinating liner notes essay, it was worked up as the band was preparing that album. It has also appeared on numerous bootlegs as a "lost" Rolling Stones piece. Tragically, The Great British Psychedelic Trip series has been out of print since the mid-‘90s. A scouring of used CD bins has been known to produce copies, presumably picked over by consumers looking for top-shelf and well-known artists.

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