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Various Artists

Love, Poetry and Revolution: A Journey through the British Psychedelic and Underground Scenes 1966-72

Review by Gary Hill

This is a massive set. It’s also quite an interesting one. I wouldn’t say that each song here is great or even essential. However, taken as a whole as a look inside a musical movement, this is essentially. There are also quite a few performances that are extremely exceptional. Much of this is rarities, meaning many of these pieces have never been released before. All of that works together to make this something worth recommending. If you’ve got an interest in the British psychedelic movement, this would be a great addition to your collection. It would also make a great starting point, giving you an idea of which artists you want to explore further.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
DEEP FEELING - Pretty Colours
I love the hard rocking, spy music psychedelic sound that drives the introduction to this thing. It’s frantic and very cool. They drop it way down and then come back up halfway for the vocal section. It reminds me a bit of a more psychedelic version of The Association. Some darker, heavier weirdness comes into the mix later.
THE MISUNDERSTOOD - Find the Hidden Door
The Yardbirds and the Animals seem to mix with some serious psychedelia here. There are some bits of backwards tracking and there is also some great garage band sound. There is a cool mellow section at the end.
THE IN CROWD - Am I Glad To See You?
This melodic, but has a real pounding, rocking tempo to it. It should be noted that I’m pretty sure Steve Howe (better known for Asia and Yes) is probably on this song. This is arguably the most professional and polished cut of the opening three. There is some intriguing shifting and changing later in the piece, too.
THE DRAG SET - Day And Night
There is really a great indie band vibe to this psychedelic rocker. It’s another that makes me think of The Animals a bit. I love the psychedelic edge to the guitar soloing. Sometimes this piece makes me think of “Too Much to Dream Last Night” by the Electric Prunes.
TUESDAY’S CHILDREN - A Strange Light from the East
A bit mellower and more melodic than some of the other music here, there is definitely an Asian vibe to this piece. It’s got a real trippy psychedelic texture that works quite well.
THE MIRAGE - The Wedding of Ramona Blair

This bouncy little number makes me think of the Syd Barrett era of Pink Floyd quite a bit. It’s a fun tune. The trippy jam outro, with its bits of backwards masked music, is quite tasty.

THE HI-FIS - Tread Softly for the Sleepers
Here’s another song that stands out as one of the more polished and potent ones here. It’s airy, soaring and quite cool. This is actually one of my favorite pieces of the entire massive set. It’s quite energized, but also very melodic.
THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP – Mr. Second Class

 I love this piece. It’s got a hard rocking edge. The keyboard sound is nice, too. There are definitely hints of what would eventually start to morph into early progressive rock. The killer instrumental section, complete with organ solo, definitely calls to mind proto-prog.

TINTERN ABBEY - Busy Bee
This was apparently a demo version. It’s got a bit of a demo quality, so that’s not hard to believe. This is more of a folk rock meets psychedelic tune. It’s good, but pales in comparison to the last couple.
BLOSSOM TOES - I’ll Be Late for Tea
Another that says it’s a demo version, this has that kind of quality, too. It’s a hard rocking, energetic tune that really feels a lot like The Beatles to me.
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN - Devil’s Grip
This is so cool. It’s got a great jazzy groove to it. Combine that with a spacey, psychedelic edge and you’ll get a good idea of what this is about. It’s one of the strongest pieces here. At times the arrangement makes me think a bit of Blood, Sweat and Tears, but this is definitely more psychedelic than that. It’s also just plain awesome.
SANDS – Mrs. Gillespie’s Refrigerator
Bouncy, fun psychedelic rock and roll with multiple layers of vocals is the order of the business here. This is solid, but kind of pales in comparison to the song that preceded it.
THE SHAME - Don’t Go ’Way Little Girl

Some of the elements on this are the kinds of things that would later come into play in power pop. Add some Beatles-like vocal hooks and some trademark psychedelic guitar work and you’ll be on the right track for what this piece sounds like. It’s an effective number.

THE PICADILLY LINE - Rosemary’s Bluebell Day
Rising up gradually, this becomes a bouncy psychedelic rocker. It’s good, but not really a standout.
CROCHETED DOUGHNUT RING - Two Little Ladies (Azalea and Rhododendron)
There is almost a childlike innocence to this piece. It’s bouncy, fun and has some interesting shifts and changes. There is some backwards tracking on the outro.
THE MIKE STUART SPAN - Second Production
Percussion starts things here. Then we get a killer psychedelic riff leading us into the song proper. There are a couple moments in this number that make me think of early Rush just a bit.
FELIUS ANDROMEDA - Cheadle Heath Delusions
Here we get a pretty basic psychedelic rocker. The instrumental section on this has more of a straightforward rock sound. It features some classy guitar soloing.
NEON PEARL - Just Another Day
A much mellower tune, this presents a bit of variety. It’s not all that special beyond that, though.
JOHN’S CHILDREN - Jagged Time Lapse
Hard rocking and raw, this is also energetic and fun. It’s a bit garage-band oriented, but it’s also cool.
ONE IN A MILLION - Man in Yellow
This makes me think of a lot of the band Tomorrow. It’s a cool psychedelic rocker.
JADE HEXAGRAM - Crushed Purple
Here’s another fairly mellow, but energized, psychedelic number. It’s not all that special, but the guitar solo section is pretty noteworthy.
DENIS COULDRY & THE NEXT COLLECTION - I Am Nearly There
The opening section to this is slow moving and dramatic. The verses are delivered in this way. The chorus, though, is in a faster paced mode that doesn’t work as well. Still, it’s an intriguing contrast. I do love the full on psychedelic breakout jam that serves as the outro.
THE ALAN BOWN! - Story Book
Exuberant, energized and trippy, this is a lot of fun. It’s quite an entertaining and effective number. I love both the vocal performance and the retro keyboard sound.
SIMON’S SECRETS - Naughty Boy
I love the playful sense of fun on this. The lyrics are intentionally child-like. This is just a slice of joy.
THE CORTINAS - Phoebe’s Flower Shop
There is almost an old-time music element in place here. It’s bouncy and fun, but a little weird for my tastes.
THE DEVIANTS - Child of the Sky
A mellower tune, this is also kind of weird, but it’s cool, too.
Disc 2
THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP - Morning Sun
This really has a classic Spencer Davis sound. It’s a bouncing, driving rocker that’s very cool. I reviewed a version of this earlier and said, “This number has a lot of psychedelia and progressive rock in the mix. Still, it also has all the Spencer Davis trademarks, too.” That’s pretty accurate and it might be the same version that’s presented here.
THE MIRAGE - Ebaneezer Beaver
Hard edged psychedelic rock is the order of business here. This is one of the better cuts of the set in a lot of ways.
WEST COAST CONSORTIUM - Amanda Jane
A mellower, more dreamy number, this is good, but not one of the real standouts.
JASON CREST - Teagarden Lane
For some reason, this reminds me a little of Procol Harum. It’s got more pure psychedelia than that comparison would indicate, though. There is a little carnival music excursion built into this, too. Early Pink Floyd could be a valid reference at times, too.
THE FLIES - Winter Afternoon
Bouncy and lighthearted, this is a solid tune. I like the vocal arrangement and also the piano.
THE DEVIANTS - You’ve Got to Hold On
There is almost an early Hawkwind vibe to this hard rocking number. It has some great bits of guitar soloing and the harmonica is a nice touch. The vocals feel a bit punky. The noisy, rocking instrumental section later is very much in keeping with that Hawkwind comparison.
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN – Nightmare
Symphonic elements open this with a rather melancholy texture. Some psychedelic sounds are added to the mix before they shift it out into the song proper. This has a great vibe to it. There are definitely some trippy, dreamy moments in the mid-track drop back. When it fires out to the hard-edged stuff from there it literally screams. Some seriously theatrical moments are heard later.  This is one of the coolest songs of the whole set, really. In fact, it might be my favorite, bar none here. That says a lot.
SUN DRAGON - Peacock Dress
The section that opens this really makes me think of the band Tomorrow. The cut has a more mainstream pop rock vibe to the vocals. It’s a strong tune that lands in the better half of this set.
PETER HOWELL & JOHN FERDINANDO Jabberwocky
Spoken vocals open this. Acoustic guitar enters and the tune begins to build out from there. This is a folk-leaning psychedelic number that’s very cool. There is a weird bit of spoken word later that gives way to a percussion section. Then there is a weird bit of music before they take it back to the folk rock section. Some backwards tracked music serves as a backdrop for more spoken recitations on the closing section.
FOREVER AMBER - Bits of Your Life, Bits of My Life
Mainstream 1960s rock with some psychedelic rock over the top is the order of business here. This is one of several tunes that make me think of The Beatles quite a bit.
PLEASE – Strange Ways
I like the fast paced, hard edged prog sound that opens this. Still, as it drops back to a mellower mode for the verse it works equally well. This is one of the better cuts on the whole disc. In fact, it’s one that would be in competition for second or third favorite in my book. It’s just got so much character and charm.
THE LIVERPOOL SCENE - We’ll All Be Spacemen before We Die
Some control tower sound traffic opens this. Then they do some science fiction type stuff for the launch sequence. The group power in from there in a killer psychedelic rock jam. The vocals on this are delivered more in a beat poetry style. The music over which they perch has space elements and a prevalent drum section. The jam later is weird with a smoking saxophone over the top. Other noisy space sounds emerge, too. Strange as it is, it’s also compelling. In fact, this is another that would land near my top list for music on this set. There’s an extended drum work out later in the number.
SERENDIPITY - Castles (full-length version)
Mellower music opens this, but then it works out to a quick burst of harder rock. A harder edged version of the opening section takes it to another loud burst. Then keyboards take us through something a bit like Vanilla Fudge. Energetic, melodic psychedelic rock emerges from there. Shifts and changes ensue as this continues to move forward. Then it crescendos before a short organ solo. That takes it back to the song proper. The instrumental section after the next vocal movement has some great guitar soloing and some cool dramatic riffs.
THE SORROWS - The Makers
This comes in gradually before launching out into some psychedelic rock that works pretty well. This is a little on the theatrical side, particularly in terms of the vocals. It’s a good cut, but not one that really stands out that much in the early sections. There is some cool guitar soloing, though in a section that reminds me a bit of early heavy metal.  From there they take into some smoking hot musical explorations that really redeem this number, landing it well in the better half of the songs here. Some cool acoustic psychedelia with world music at its heart takes it at the end to eventually end it.
SECOND HAND - A Fairy Tale
Bouncy psychedelic rock is the order of business here. This is playful and fun.
INFORMATION - Oh Strange Man
There is almost a funky element at play on this piece. That gets mixed with a slightly awkward psychedelic rock sound on the verses. The choruses seem to work better. This is not bad, but probably relegated to the less effective end of the set.
SHY LIMBS – Love
I really like the soaring sound that opens this. We get some harmonica before it works out into the song proper. There’s really almost a progressive rock element here. Greg Lake provides the vocals on this tune and his voice is unmistakable. I like this one a lot.
HARDIN-YORK - Tomorrow Today
Starting on piano, there is a great bluesy rock vibe to this number. It’s quite a soulful number. I’m not sure I’d think of this as psychedelic. I’d definitely think of it as a great tune, though.
INFINITY - Venetian Glass
There is more psychedelic sound in this one, but it’s also very classy. The melody and tone sound familiar, but I can’t place it in terms of anything specific. However you slice it, though, this thing just drips cool. The keyboard sound is great and the vocals are just about perfect for the tune.
MAC READ – What the Dickens
A hard rocking tune, other than the guitar solo dominated instrumental sections, this is a good tune, but nothing special. Those guitar solos, though, along with the jams that accompanies them, are quite strong. They remind me of early Black Sabbath in some ways.
RESPECT - Santa Lucia
Drums lead us off in a fast paced psychedelic rocker. This is not really all that special, in my book. There is a decent high energy jam that serves as the outro, though.
FAT MATTRESS - Iridescent Butterfly
Trippy, exuberant psychedelic rock is the order of business on this piece. It’s a good one. While not one of my favorites, it definitely stands in the better half of this set. I like the flute on this song.
Disc 3
THE OPEN MIND - Magic Potion
The hard rocking riff that opens this makes me think of early heavy metal. It drives out from there into more typical psychedelic territory. This is an energized tune that’s very effective. I love the guitar soloing on this.
PHIL CORDELL - Red Lady
Here we get a mellower, more intricate number. It’s still very thoroughly psychedelic. It really feels like it fits thoroughly into the 1960s type of movement that brought us people like Donovan.
TAICONDEROGA - Whitchi Tai To
An echoey noisefest, this is one of the weakest tracks here. It’s still not bad, by any means, but it doesn’t stand up to the rest of the set.
HAWKWIND ZOO - Hurry On Sundown
This previously unreleased demo version of the Hawkwind song from the first album (“Hawkwind Zoo” was an earlier name for Hawkwind) is quite similar to the studio version. It has a bit more of intricate, bright acoustic guitar introduction, but beyond that seems to have much of the same sound. I’ve always loved this cut and this version is no exception. The instrumental sections later in the piece are less heavy and space rock oriented with more of a psychedelic vibe, too.
PRINCIPAL EDWARDS MAGIC THEATRE - Lament for the Earth
The mellower sections that start this are pretty weird. When it works out to a more rocking segment later, it’s an improvement, but the vocals tend to drag it down a bit. This is definitely competition for worst song of the set. It’s probably the far away winner, too. I’d consider this a “skip it” tune.
CZAR - Ritual Fire Dance
This is more like it! There’s a lot of energy to this and the cool jam has world music in the midst of it. In a lot of ways this is really progressive rock. It’s clearly psychedelic, too, though. This instrumental is scorching hot and includes some awesome jamming.
THE FUT - Have You Heard the Word

The Beatles are clearly a definite musical reference on this piece. It’s a mid-tempo psychedelic rocker that feels a lot like Klaatu, too. The bouncing little segment later in the number really seems familiar to me.

PAPER BUBBLE - Fillin’ a Gap
A wall of vocals along with acoustic guitar brings this in with a definite folk rock sound. The cut grows out by expanding on and developing that sound into something more special. Symphonic elements are heard on the piece and it soars at times.
THE FOX – Butterfly
Intricate acoustic guitar opens this and the cut builds out from there. The main premise doesn’t change much, but the cut really does get a lot of power, beauty and drama from the added layers.
COMPLEX - Images Blue
This is a pretty mellow balladic cut. It makes me think of some of the more soft rock based bands amongst the psychedelic rockers. It’s not a bad song, but doesn’t really stand out here.
OCTOPUS – Rainchild
A bouncy, light kind of psychedelic rock sound makes up this number. To me it almost feels like a mix of The Beatles and Procol Harum in some ways.
T2 - Careful Sam
As the acoustic guitar based modes open this, I’m reminded a bit of early David Bowie. The cut works through several variants and alterations as it continues. It’s almost a minute and a half before any vocals join. They bring a more traditional psychedelic sound with them, rooted in that mellow sound, though. Then around the two minute mark it powers up to harder rocking sounds. That section makes me think of Pink Floyd to a large degree. It drops way down after that and builds back out gradually. We’re taken into the hardest rocking jam of the whole tune from there and Pink Floyd is clearly a valid reference point. This thing continues to grow and expand as it works through. We’re taken through quite a few shifts and changes in this hard rocking jam. This is one of the coolest songs of the whole disc really.
SIMON FINN - Laughing ’Til Tomorrow
Starting with some intricate acoustic guitar, the song stays in that territory for the appearance of the first vocals. There are some electric instruments in the mix, but overall this doesn’t grow out much. The vocals are a bit tough to take, too. Those two things combine to make this one of the pieces in competition for worst tune of the compilation.
BEAU – Creation
Space, ominous sounds open this. A bass line works through as whispered voices are heard over this mellow backdrop. Weird psychedelic elements build up and out as this continues. This is a bit creepy, but also very cool.
BILL NELSON - End of the Seasons
This is more of a mainstream tune. It’s got some energy and some nice melodies. The vocals are a little lacking in terms of range, but overall this is pretty cool. I love some of the musical changes in the mix. After a couple major changes it drops to some weird world café music for the ending.
MARK FRY - The Witch
Acoustic guitar based sounds open this in dramatic ways. As the vocals join the drama is increased. There is a bit of a bluesy vibe here. Sitar music and other elements bring the psychedelic overtones in spades. The jamming on this thing is top notch, that’s for sure.
KEVIN COYNE - Evil Island Home
There is some cool acoustic blues guitar playing on this tune. The vocals are distant and weird. The vocals rise up more as the cut continues. The music, too, comes up and builds out into more of an echoey psychedelic rock sound. Nothing changes fast, though, the whole thing growing gradually. Odd as this is, it’s still quite effective.
Uncredited Track
There is an uncredited track here. It starts with some little kids singing “I Am the Walrus.” They do so with no musical accompaniment (other than some shakers or other percussion). Then some piano and flute enter in noisy fashion. This is very strange, but somehow oddly compelling.
 
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