Various Artists

Steppin' Through an Empty Time: Fairytales Can Come True, Vol. 5

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The fifth release in Psychic Circle's Fairytales compilation series, once again overseen by Bevis Frond mainman Nick Saloman, Steppin' Through an Empty Time fulfills the expected brief of both the series and the rules of psych compilations in general -- appreciative liner notes, wild and woolly stories, and a sense of turning up things for reappraisal. Like so many of such compilations, a lot of what appears here is less lost treasure than illustrative of the time and place -- efforts from performers ranging from journeymen folk acts to one-off studio assemblies from film soundtracks to gonna-make-it-somehow bands that never did but left a little something behind anyway. One of the best songs kicks off the collection, Sleepy's "Mrs. Bailey's Barbecue & Grill," its appeal thanks to its bizarre spoken word break about the correct temperature of red wine as much as to its general riffage and Beatles-in-1967 whimsy in the chorus. From there it's off to the races, with any number of orchestrations, harmonies, fuzz guitars, and more picturing a time when albums like The Who Sell Out, Odessey and Oracle, and Ogden's Nut Gone Flake were the latest releases instead of mummified classic rock. Standout tracks include Dorian & the Mackensies' "Stay with Me," with a great organ freakout on the break; the slow, moody title track courtesy of Dutch band Spacetrack; and the openly "Satisfaction"-like "Mister/Keep Your Hands Off My Sister" by the Rattles, which transforms from snarling rock to string and flutes and back again. There's also a great story behind the hushed folk-pop of "My Love" by David McNeil -- turns out he was the son of Marc Chagall.

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