Shindig!...We Set the Scene!

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Britain's Shindig! magazine is one of the better, more comprehensive fanzines with 1960s (and '60s-styled) rock as its focus. The magazine compiled and annotated this widely, and rather wildly, dispersed compilation of obscure British rock from 1966-1974. It covers the whole field of period British rock, from folk-rock and pop/rock to progressive, soul, and more; Bert Jansch, and perhaps Blue Mink, John Kongos, and the Johnstons, are the only artists who ring a bell outside hardcore collector circles. There aren't even many items that are notable for the participation of big names, except for the BBC session workout of "I Don't Want You" by Traffic Jam, just weeks before they renamed themselves Status Quo. There's a lot of a good, little-known British rock from this era, and Shindig magazine has documented a lot of it. But these particular two-dozen tracks are neither among the better such rarities from the time, nor are they as good as the music you'll typically read about in Shindig! itself. "Rare" doesn't necessarily equate with "great," and although almost all of this is underexposed, much of it's bland and derivative. A few tracks here and there catch the ear, like 1984's "This Little Boy," which is reminiscent of Paul Jones and Manfred Mann; the Strangers' cover of the Hollies' "Step Inside," though it doesn't add much to the original; Ruth Copeland's saucy soul-funk, backed by Funkadelic, on "Your Love Has Been So Good to Me"; and the Johnstons' poppy cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," which actually charted (about as low as it could) in the United States at the same time Judy Collins was scoring a massive hit with the same tune. Most of the rest, frankly, sounds like the kind of stuff compilers pass by as undeserving when selectively assembling packages of good, overlooked British rock from the era.

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