Various Artists

Travellers Aid Trust

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The Travellers Aid Trust was established in the late 1980s to combat recent British government legislation restricting the movement (and, indeed, the very existence) of "travellers" -- the so-called "hippie drop-outs" who roamed that green and pleasant land and made an annual nuisance of themselves at various sacred prehistoric sites. Widely considered the culprits behind any number of petty crimes, the Travellers' greatest sin was actually their refusal to adopt the more conventional values of the late 20th century, preferring to exist as best they could on its most radical fringes -- a stomping ground that had long proven fertile territory for such bands as Hawkwind, the Ozric Tentacles, Radio Mongolia, and the Agents of Chaos.

This double album was conceived as a means of raising funds for the Trust's own attempts to provide Travellers with legal support, and features contributions from a dozen of the free festival circuit's most persistent acts. Hawkwind, the grandaddies of the entire musical movement, open with the long-established live favorite "Brainstorm," that then dips into the otherwise unrecorded "Blue Dreamer"; sticking with the group's family tree, former saxophonist Nik Turner turns up at the end, with his irreverent reworking of the band's biggest hit, "Silver Machine."

A lot of the rest of the album is decidedly hit and miss -- as, indeed, are the bands. the Ozric Tentacles' own blend of jazzy-space prog needs no introduction, and burbles with as much panache and expertise as one would expect. Elsewhere, however, the Rhythmites, Tubilah Dogs, and Israel Movement seem simply to be rehashing notions that earlier generations (or, indeed, the Ozrics) had already perfected beforehand, and the sense that the entire affair, like so many of these bands, would have been better-suited to a massive outdoor festival is inescapable. Except it would have had to be a free one -- and that would have somewhat missed the point of the exercise.

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