In 2017, Grapefruit Records released ‘Let’s Go Down & Blow Our Minds’, a three disc anthology bringing together psychedelic favourites, rarities and unreleased gems from 1967. The set proved so popular that similarly curated box sets covering 1968 and 1969 swiftly followed. A comprehensive voyage through an interesting landscape, capturing an era where new studio trickery pushed rock and pop music forward apace, between them, this trio of releases comprised an unmissable treat. For those who couldn’t get enough psych and freakbeat, the label even issued a further five discs’ worth of material from the era in the lavish ‘I Think I’m Going Weird’, a release that brought some of the biggest underground gems to public attention since Bam Caruso Records unleashed their ‘Rubble’ series of releases in the early 90s.
Despite the comprehensive amount of material from 1967 filling ‘Let’s Go Down’ and the ‘…Weird’ box set, Grapefruit have uncovered yet more gems from the year with ‘Too Much Sun Will Burn’. You might think at this point that another psych box would feel like overkill – but you’d be wrong. More so than ever before, this set brings a wealth of rare material via a set of tracks that were recorded in 1967, but not actually issued at the time, and a great selection of harder to find 7” sides. Obviously, some of these have crawled out on other comps over the years, but it’s great to have them easily accessible and in one place. There are also a few genuinely unreleased cuts to tempt the hardened collector, making it a release that should please a broad spectrum of psych lovers.
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.
Since the label’s launch in the late noughties, Grapefruit Records has worked tirelessly to bring top quality reissues to fans of cult 60s and 70s sounds. Thanks to their archive digging skills, previously unaffordable vinyl albums by Skip Bifferty and Picadilly Line were no longer an extortionately priced mystery; Jeff Lynne’s early years with The Idle Race were reappraised, and dark psych combo Zior reached the ears of many people for the first time.
For all of their well loved archive releases, it’s a trilogy of psych themed box sets featuring hits, misses and rarities from 1967 (‘Lets Go Down And Blow Our Minds’), 1968 (‘Looking At The Pictures In The Sky’) and 1969 (‘Try A Little Sunshine’) that best advertises the label’s eye and ear for great reissues. With that in mind, it seems only natural that the label would raid the archives of psychedelia’s peak years for their hundredth release, and ‘Think I’m Going Weird’ is Grapefruit’s biggest and most adventurous release to date. With over 120 tracks spread across five discs, a larger format book sharing a wealth of important historical detail and rare photographs (with no obvious overlap from the previous 60s psych sets) this British take on ‘Nuggets’ is something of a jewel in the label’s crown.
Between a world of cancelled and postponed gigs and time spent in lockdown, 2020 has been a troubled year, but nevertheless, time marches on. Unbelievably, we’ve reached December and our traditional countdown to Christmas has begun.
The inaugural release from Strawberry Records, ‘Halcyon Days’ aims high in terms of 60s entertainment. Bringing together a great selection of mod, soul and freakbeat sides, it presents famous names alongside forgotten heroes; places cult floor fillers, deep cuts and a few genuine rarities among fantastic (and sometimes very interesting) covers of well known tunes. Across nearly 90 tracks, it sets itself up as a varied and comprehensive listen. It’s very much the kind of set tailor made for those who’ve worn out the more bog-standard mod comps and are looking for a world beyond The Action, The Creation and those much-loved Spencer Davis Group hits.