Various Artists

Gulliver's Travels

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Absolutely one of the weirdest records ever released, Gulliver's Travels is a byproduct of the post-Sgt. Pepper, post-Yellow Submarine world. Inspired by a 1968 stage production of Jonathan Swift's classic story starring Manfred Mann's lead singer, Mike D'Abo, Immediate Records released the album on its short-lived imprint, Instant, without notice in February 1969, just as the label was in its death throes. It was pulled from the stores not long afterward, and it has existed as a psychedelic collectors item for years afterward (even though D'Abo resurrected the production with its producer in 1975). Actually, calling it a collectors item might be overstating it a little bit -- it was more of a curious obscurity, the kind favored by record collectors that obsessively read Record Collector. Sanctuary/Castle reissued the album in 2001, and it probably sounds stranger decades later than it did then. That's because so little of the concept album has to do with the concept. There are snippets of Lovin' Spoonful, Small Faces, the Nice, and Little Richard songs spliced together with orchestral pieces, a vaudevillian cover of Small Faces' "Afterglow," and found sounds -- all sounding quintessentially late '60s, but it's too scattered to truly be impressive. That very scattershot approach, however, keeps the album sounding strange, especially since there is nothing at all tying this together. If you weren't told that this was about Gulliver's Travels, there would be no way of knowing it from listening to the record, since it just plays like stoned musicians randomly piecing together their own compositions, favorite songs, sound effects, and sounds, all over leftover BBC session tapes where you can still hear the music they've recorded over. And while that makes for a curiosity worth a listen, it's not worth more than one listen. [The 2001 reissue also includes both sides of D'Abo's single "(See the Little People) Gulliver Travels"/"An Anthology of Gulliver's Travels, Pt. 2," plus his previously unreleased "In the Beginning."]

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