Various Artists

Piccadilly Sunshine, Pt. 1: British Pop Psych and Other Flavours 1965-1970

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The title of this 20-track compilation gives you a fair idea of what to expect: pop/rock with a psychedelic touch, though actually all but one of the cuts is from 1967-1970. This is definitely more pop than psychedelia, and in some ways a U.K. equivalent to American sunshine pop. It's certainly a lot closer to the Hollies' "King Midas in Reverse" in tone than, say, Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." Not to mention that all of these artists are far more obscure than the Hollies and Pink Floyd; even '60s British rock experts are unlikely to have heard of anyone here, except maybe Sounds Inc. and Chris Andrews (whose contribution, "Sad Simon Lives Again," was actually billed to Tim Andrews). Even some of the band names (Peppermint Circus, Tin Tin, Merlin Q, Mood of Hamilton) are fair indication that the mood is pretty whimsical. Generally the songs are just OK, however, though the production -- which is way more heavy on orchestral embellishments than freaky psychedelic ones -- is generally pretty good. The heaviest number, Svensk's "Dream Magazine" (which has shown up on a few psychedelic compilations over the years), is certainly the standout with its spooky organ and dreamy ambience, almost sounding like something the Zombies might have done if they'd gotten more far out. Nothing else here comes close, to be blunt, and some of the tracks skirt blandness. But there are some mildly neat items, like Sounds Inc.'s drolly bouncy "Dead as a Go-Go"; the Nocturnes' "Fairground Man," with its upbeat male-female harmonies and swirling organ; and Mood of Hamilton's "Why Can't There Be More Love," where ethereal churchy organ, backup vocals, and naïvely utopian lyrics are all pluses. Past & Present's customarily informative liner notes unearth some unexpected connections between some of these artists and more famous names -- both Rick Kemp (later of Steeleye Span) and Rod Temperton (who wrote material for Michael Jackson's Thriller) were in Roger Bloom's Hammer, for instance, and Maurice Gibb produced Tin Tin.

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