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Various Artists

Spaced Out: Story of Mushroom Records

Review by Gary Hill

Mushroom Records formed in 1970 and released a dazzling variety of music over the course of three years. This new compilation gathers a lot of music from that period onto the first CD here. The second disc is made up by the precursor of Mushroom, music from Mushroom founder Vic Keary's production company. The sounds here lean heavily toward psychedelic and folk, but there is also progressive rock, world music, bubblegum and a lot more. It should be mentioned that I reviewed a new reissue by Second Hand in this issue of Music Street Journal and a number of these songs were on that album. For the sake of consistency, the track reviews for those were copied or adapted from that review.

Track by Track Review
Disc:One: Mushroom Label

            
Pandit Kanwar Sain Trikha - Folk Piece in Kharwa

A sitar focused piece of music, this is almost the definition of early psychedelic music. I suppose the "world music" and "folk music" labels would also fit, though. This instrumental is nearly five minutes long.

Les Flambeaux - Evil Ways

This is intriguing. It's the Santana song, but it's delivered in a musical mélange that's based heavily on world music. The instrumentation is almost all percussion, but much of it is tuned percussion.  This feels at once like African tribal music and reggae. There is some bass later in the piece.

Second Hand - Hangin' on An Eyelid

A melodic keyboard section opens this. The cut works forward to a bit more mainstream prog before shifting to some rather circus styled music. From there we're taken out to something more along the lines of 1960s jazz rock. The cut keeps shifting and changing between the various styles. There is a cool classical piano dominated movement mid-track. Some other intriguing instrumental shifts and changes emerge, too. This has some killer instrumental work, really.

Callinan-Flynn - Fortune for the Finder

Acoustic guitar starts this. The cut is a folk number that's pretty classic in sound.

Jon Betmead - Dandelion Blues

This is more of an old-school folk song. Comparisons to Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are valid. I don't like this as much as the previous one.

Simon Finn - Where's Your Master Gone?

Mellow, trippy psychedelic music is the idea here. It's part folk and part Doors weirdness minus the organ. This gets pretty freaky.

Lol Coxhill - Or Alternatively Nine

In a major twist, this is a real free-form jazz type number. It's quite intriguing stuff. It gets pretty boisterous as it grows.

Heather, Adrian & John - Lark in the Morning

Stripped down folk music is what we get here. This is very much old-time in nature. This is a live recording.

Andreas Thomopoulos - False Eyelashes

I love the intricate acoustic guitar sounds that start this. Jus harp lends something intriguing to the piece. This is another folk piece, but it's more of a modern (meaning 1960s) sound than it is tied to the sounds of artists like Guthrie and Seeger. I like this song a lot.

Nitai Dasgupta - Cham Cham Cham Cham

The lyrics to this are not in English. This is built on world music. It's an intriguing piece of music.

Second Hand - Funeral

Coming in with a powerhouse symphonic prog vibe, this drops back to mellower music to continue. This is more of a folk prog kind of thing as it works forward. It gets pretty rocking before it ends.

Callinan-Flynn - We Are the People (The Road to Derry Town)

This is more of a folk rock song. The vocals, though, are more pure folk than they are rock. Comparisons to Bob Dylan's electric debut period wouldn't be out of the question. There is definitely a Celtic edge to this, too.

Andreas Thomopoulos - Report to the Sad Lady
Latin folk styled music is the concept here. This is guitar based and quite tasty. The lyrics are not in English. 
The Liverpool Fishermen - The Auld Triangle
An acapella Celtic sounding piece, this has a great traditional arrangement.
Mappa Tandi - High Germany

This live recording is a Celtic folk styled piece. It's energetic and classic in nature.

Chillum - Land of a Thousand Dreams

This short (less than a minute and a half) instrumental seems to combine jazz and psychedelia with a bit of early prog. There is the sound of someone sleeping running as an accompaniment to the music.

Urban Clearway - Puckaree

A Celtic whistle brings this into being. That drops away and acapella Celtic vocals rise up. A little after the one minute mark guitars and other instruments join to bring into more of a folk rock territory. The instrumental section later in the piece is full on Celtic rock, making me think of the kind of music Tempest does these days.

Gordon, Ellis & Steele - Don't Wait Till the Morning

This folk rocker is classic in sound. It really is set in precisely the kind of sound that was such a big thing in that era. At times I'm reminded of Dylan, but it also has elements of The Band and the mellower side of the Byrds. Then again, both of those acts have ties to Dylan.

Magic Carpet - The Phoenix

The sitar on this lends some psychedelia. The music beyond that is traditional folk sound. The female vocals lend a familiar air to the cut.

Second Hand - Take to the Skies

An electronic rhythm starts this, and we move out from there into ar freaky bit of sound. This instrumental is odd, but cool.

Simon Finn - Jerusalem

Rising up slowly, this is such a great merging of psychedelia with folk music. There is a lot of Dylan built into this. It gets pretty crazed later in the track. In fact, it gets into almost punk rock territory before it's over.

Disc Two: Vic Keary's Maximum Sound Production
           

The Attraction - Party Line

A phone rings at the start of this. Then someone answers in smarmy kind of voice. The cut works out from there to a 1960s pop rock sound. This is a fun tune with some hints of psychedelia.

Tuesday's Children - Summer Leaves Me with a Sigh

Folk rock with some hints of psychedelia is the basic concept here. There are some hints of bubble gum, but not like those we heard on the previous tune.

John Williams - She's That Kind of Woman

I dig the violin on this number. The whole psychedelic rock vibe on this works really well.

Alexis Korner - See See Rider

Honky tonk piano begins this rendition of the classic old school tune. The horns and other instruments join. The voice comes in bringing an artsy kind of psychedelic vibe to it.

Denis Couldry - James in the Basement

While this is a full on psychedelic rock romp, there are some hints of jazz in the mix. This is a fun cut.

Felius Andromeda - Cheadle Heath Delusions

I love the guitar solo on this thing. It's kind of rock and roll turned psychedelic.

Second Hand - The World Will End Yesterday

Some backwards tracked sounds open this. Then, some rocking backwards stuff comes in to take it to the beginning of the song proper. This is noisy and space rock meets psychedelia based. It's harder rocking than a lot of the stuff here. It's also quite trippy and rather prog-like. The freak-out around the three minute mark is classic.

Andromeda - Rainbow Chasing
I would say that there are just about equal helpings of folk rock and psychedelia on this song. I like the intricate bits of guitar. The vocal arrangement is noteworthy, too. This has some strong hooks, as well.
Oliver Bone - Knock on Wood

This old Motown classic gets a visit here. This isn't all that groundbreaking in terms of sounds. It's sort of what you'd expect from this number. Sure, it's a bit more psychedelic rock based, but only a little.

Angelina - Wishing My Life Away

This has more of a mainstream pop sound. Mind you, I'm talking about the sound of artists from the 1960s. There is even some surf guitar in the backdrop of this. While I like this, it's nothing all that special.

John Williams - My Ways Are Set

Based in a mellow folk sound, this is closer to a lot of the stuff on the first disc. It's a nice bit of variety amidst the more rock based stuff here.

Tuesday's Children - A Strange Light from the East

Trippy folk based psychedelia, this is bouncy and fun.

The Carolines - Love Made a Fool of Me

This comes in more along the lines of the contemporary pop of the time. I don't really like this song all that much. It's really just not my thing.

Mel Turner - Jungle Harlem

There is definitely a Motown kind of feeling to this. Yet, it has almost an Island vibe at the same time. Still, there is a healthy helping of James Brown present here.

The Attraction - She's a Girl
Based heavily on 1960s pop rock, there are parts of this that make me think of The Who. I like the guitar solo a lot.
Alexis Korner - Taboo Man

This has a nice mix of old time rock and roll, jazz and world music. It's a fun little stomper. It's also a nice bit of variety.

John Williams - Ramblin' Boy
I like the violin on this piece. It's more of a pure folk tune. It's also quite tasty.
Andromeda - After the Storm

With a smoking hot folk rock sound, this has a definite 1960s vibe, but still feels vibrant today. It's a real powerhouse and one of my favorites on this collection.

Denis Couldry & the Next Collection - I Am Nearly There

Slow, moody folk rock, at the beginning, this works out to some pretty crazed 1960s rock after that opening movement. There is some psychedelia in the mix. It drops back to the mellower section to continue, setting up the alternating pattern that makes up the rest of the song.

Felius Andromeda - Meditations

Folk rock turned psychedelic, this calls to mind Procol Harum just a bit.

New Faces - Never Gonna Love Again
There is a lot of bubble gum rock in this bouncy little dittie. This is fun, but not my kind of thing.
Mark Leeman Five - Chasing Shadows
Built on a lot of old time rock and roll, there are some female backing vocals here that are very dated. Still, this has its charm.
The Cherokees - Come on, Be Mine

There is a healthy helping of old Beatles on this.

Mel Turner - White Christmas

Jazz and old-time rock and roll merge on this rendition of the holiday classic. There is even some Hawaiian music in the mix.

Second Hand - Reality

The opening segment here has some classical elements in the mix. It's classy psychedelia overall. When it moves into the song proper, it becomes more hard rocking psychedelic based proto prog. There is some decidedly proggy jamming as this moves out later. It drops down to a section that has a real classical music bent to it, but is also rather trippy. Then after the six minute mark, it rises back up into a powerhouse jam that's part Beatles, part ELO and definitely prog rock. There is a return to the earlier rocking movement right at the end.

 
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