Various Artists

This Is Psychedelia

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The year 2007, being the 40th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love, saw no shortage of new compilations and boxed sets attempting to encapsulate the music that defined the subgenre of that era and has since come to be called psychedelic (no self-respecting hippie would have called it that at the time). Several have done a fine job doing just that, while others have been off the mark, either including music from other time periods or music that could, under no circumstances, fall under the banner of psychedelic. This three-disc British box straddles a fine line between accomplishing what it sets out to do -- its subtitle, "Over 3 hours of mind-expanding acid rock" puts its goal into clearer perspective -- and teetering into that latter category. On the plus side, it includes key tracks from well-known bands both from America and Britain, among them Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, the Velvet Underground, Eric Burdon & the Animals, It's a Beautiful Day, Spirit, the Byrds, Status Quo, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Nice, 13th Floor Elevators, the Small Faces, and the Yardbirds, all of which could legitimately be considered essential psych. It also takes chances by tucking in tracks by bands of lesser renown that should have made more of a splash than they did, at least for the single song included by them here: the Smoke ("My Friend Jack"), Kak ("Lemonaide Kid"), the Blues Magoos (their sole huge hit, "We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet") and Fleur de Lys ("Circles"). It's debatable whether the Youngbloods' excellent "Darkness, Darkness" or Kenny Rogers & the First Edition's "Just Dropped In" actually qualify as psychedelia, and almost ludicrous that glam pioneer Marc Bolan is included here (although the track, "Misfit," does have stylistic consistencies with some of the better true psych). Several other tracks are obscure enough to have made it to the sub-Nuggets compilations that flourished in the '80s: (the Purple's "Granny Takes a Trip," the Glass Menagerie's take on the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow") are welcome additions here, keeping things interesting. Of course there's a lot missing that qualified as genuine psychedelia, but as an overall intro to the phenomenon, this set, while not perfect, covers enough ground to get a thumbs up as one of those that knows what it's talking about.

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