Marmalade

The Ultimate Collection

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AllMusic Review by

Marmalade is often overlooked when lists of the great bands of the '60s British pop scene are compiled. Much like the Tremeloes and Honeybus, two other bands that didn't get much respect, Marmalade was perhaps too poppy and sweet to leave the same lasting impression that the Kinks, Small Faces, and Beatles did. The Ultimate Collection gathers together the group's entire recorded output from 1966 to 1972, with disc one covering their tenure at CBS and the other two covering their time with Decca. Their mid-'60s CBS recordings showcase the group's lush vocal harmonies, chunky musical backing, and high quality songwriting. At their best, on songs like "I See the Rain," "Wait a Minute Baby," and "Mr. Lion," Marmalade created a powerful fusion of British Invasion songcraft, the swirling atmospheres of psychedelia, and the gritty passion of soul. Like so many bands of the era, Marmalade had to round out its albums with contemporary covers, and while the band did a fair job with covers of "Summer in the City," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-Li-Da," its originals are much more interesting. When the group left CBS and signed with Decca in 1968, it returned with a different sound: less psychedelic, more organic, and more influenced by the softer singer/songwriter sound, with the occasional nod to hard rock. It sounds like a completely different band with only a couple of songs ("Reflections of My Life" and "Kaleidoscope") having the same feel as before. Despite the departure in style and sound, the group was still very good at what it was doing, adding passion and depth to make up for the stripped down sound. When Hugo Nicholson joined the band and took over the songwriting chores (on disc three), the band went even further in a soft rock direction and songs like "Sarah," "Back on the Road," and "Radancer" are easily the equal of anything America, Bread, or Seals & Crofts released in the early '70s. The Ultimate Collection is not geared to collectors, as there is no unreleased material (in fact, disc one was first released as I See the Rain: The CBS Years and discs two and three were out as Rainbow: The Decca Years) and basically no liner notes. Still, if you want or need all of Marmalade's output in one handy place (and if you dig '60s British pop, you should), then this collection is very nice indeed.

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