Subtitled ‘Pastoral Psychedelia & Funky Folk’, this three disc anthology from Strawberry Records delves deeply into an era where folk music adopted a more progressive approach, and prog/psych bands weren’t afraid to get whimsical. Although the music within isn’t always easily pigeonholed, the bands and artists featured cross genres and moods freely, in a way that captures a period like no other, mixing folk narratives and very English tones with the worldly haze of a prog rock experimentation and a love of jazz. Without these genre-bending pioneers, John Martyn’s ‘Solid Air’ mightn’t be the much loved masterpiece that it is, and Al Stewart might’ve been forever stuck in a Dylan-esque narrative rut. And that’s just scratching the surface.
The Fall’s early work has been reissued several times, but with a few of their “Fall Sound Archives” releases, Cherry Red Records managed to go above and beyond to give some well worn material the best send off ever. Both ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ and ‘Dragnet’ were released as lavish three disc editions in 2019, but even better, the seminal ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ formed part of a brilliant box set, ‘1982’, later that same year. By making the much loved album the main feature of a 6CD anthology, it set a precedent for similarly great reissues.
Taking the same approach as that box set, ‘1970s’ is a hefty 12CD tome that claims to include all of the band’s work from that decade. It doesn’t – there are notable omissions – but it pulls together a huge wealth of material, including several live shows that have never been officially released. There’s always a question of how much bootleg quality Fall material you need, but as the old fan mantra suggests, “you must get them all”, and the lure of six unavailable live sets here will certainly be enough for the hardened fan to want this set – quality be damned-ah.
In terms of “supergroups”, Snakecharmer’s first line up was hard to beat. Centring around ex-Whitesnake members Micky Moody (guitar) and Neil Murray (bass), the band immediately came with a solid, classic rock sound that would be partially indebted to their formative years with David Coverdale, but – as was proven by their debut album – they relied far less on nostalgia than their earlier vehicle The Company of Snakes. Much of Snakecharmer’s superior sound not only came from stronger songwriting, but also the presence of vocalist Chris Ousey (ex-Virginia Wolf/Heartland), a man blessed with the kind of range capable of tackling almost everything with ease.
What is “Toytown Pop”? The label, coined by fans and collectors, refers to the more mundane and child-friendly aspects of the psychedelic era and psych pop movements. It is chiefly concerned with everyday life, shops, buses, swings in the park, and has an obsession with being home in time for tea. In terms of lyrical concerns and overall concepts, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more…1967.
For those who aren’t regular visitors down the rabbit holes of cult 60s pop, The Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’ is a good example of this musical niche with its busy narrative driven by people and casual observations, and to a lesser extent, the optimistic tone and bounce of ‘Good Day Sunshine’ could also fit the remit. Obviously, due to licencing agreements and costs – as usual – you won’t find The Fab Four anywhere on ‘Climb Aboard My Roundabout’, but Grapefruit Records has unearthed a whole world of other treats to ensure that this three disc set is a very comprehensive journey through Toytown, and is never less than interesting.
Tangerine Dream completists will be well aware of how hard it is to collect everything. Between the re-recorded works, various compilations with minor differences, bounteous live recordings and box sets, their legacy of work literally spans well over a hundred titles.
There’s some good news for the keen collector: On November 25th 2022, Cherry Red Records will be reissuing ‘The Bootleg Box Set, Volume 2’ via their Esoteric Recordings imprint. Not to be confused with “The Official Bootleg Series” (also in the hands of Cherry Red), the original “Bootleg Box Set” releases were issued by Castle Music back in the 00’s and soon became hard to find. The second volume, in particular, was a very short run and over the years has become incredibly sought after, occasionally fetching three figure sums on the rare instances it came up for sale on eBay.