A product of the late 60s freedoms and musical experimentation, British folk-rock gave the world a few classic albums in its formative years. Fairport Convention’s ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’ and ‘Leige & Leif’, both released in 1969, arguably took the musical fusion from being of cult status and into the more mainstream. Now considered indispensable by fans everywhere, these are albums without which Led Zeppelin’s third album might not exist in quite the same way…or even at all. Often taking a more trad direction in their early years, Steeleye Span captured the fingered-ear of folkies with 1970’s ‘Please To See The King’, whilst Lindisfarne also gained a great deal of commercial success with a slightly more raucous take on a rapidly growing genre, even if that success has been somewhat overlooked in the passing of time.
In 2017, Hear No Evil Recordings released an excellent REO Speedwagon box set entitled ‘The Early Years’. The mid-priced release rounded up the band’s fist seven studio albums and 1977’s double live set ‘Live: You Get What You Play For’ in one handy package, making some of the albums available on CD in the UK for the first time in a long while…and in the case of the unedited version of the live disc, for the first time ever. Given the love that went into that set, it seemed inevitable a similar set covering the band’s next decade – the period that brought them the most commercial success and some massive hits – should follow. Such a box would be an essential release, especially since a few of the albums from that period have become equally hard to find despite selling in huge numbers.
A comprehensive five CD anthology telling the story of independent music from Scotland between 1977 and 1989, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ is an interesting box set. From the no-frills and DIY ethics of punk through to lavish alternative pop, Scotland had more than enough talent to make a huge mark upon music in the 70s and 80s and the country’s greatest bands were every bit as good – and better – than many of the hugely celebrated acts from Manchester and the south. The many independent labels had as much to give the world in terms of underground talent and beyond, so in lots of ways, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ isn’t so much a box set, an anthology or collection as a celebration.
For admirers of Cherry Red’s 2018 power pop and new wave anthology ‘Harmony In My Head’ and Edsel’s Gary Crowley curated box set of punk curios, the first two discs of this five disc set will alone be worth the purchase. Covering the period between 1977 and 1982, as you’d expect, these discs have more than a decent amount of punky fare and the nature of the source material means that various obscurities are released on CD for the very first time.
Tony Palmer’s legendary film of Tangerine Dream’s 1975 UK visit has a troubled history. What should have been a fantastic document of a unique event ended up being a bit of a botch under the watchful eye of Richard Branson, when an executive decision was made to pair the visuals with (then) previously unreleased music, regardless of what was played at the show itself.
A new ‘Director’s Cut’ DVD finally married the images to the correct soundtrack, but a super-deluxe box set for 2019 goes a step further.
Always a much loved band in melodic rock circles, Harem Scarem have released some great albums over the years, with their first two albums very much at the forefront of the scene at the point where the AOR glory days of the 80s reached their end.
Over the following years, Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and band continued to make great music, with their 2002 release ‘Weight of The World’ ranking among their best.
Outside of Japan, most of their albums have been increasingly hard to find, but March 2019 will set that right when most of the band’s catalogue is set for release as a lavish fourteen CD set, pairing the first twelve albums with an “Early Years” disc and an exclusive disc of rarities. The good news for fans looking to fill those collection gaps is that each of the individual releases also includes the relevant bonus tracks from the Japanese releases and more besides.
The full details can be found in the press release below.