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Love Poetry And Revolution: A Journey Through The British Psychedelic And Underground Scenes 1966 To 1972 Ned Raggett , December 9th, 2013 11:23

If there's something about the garage and psych scenes of the mid to late 60s and thereabouts, it's that they'll live and die by the compilation. Ever since the nuclear-strength impact of Nuggets and everything that's followed over the following four decades, it's been the baseline for how to get introduced to a lot of bands at once in combination with an assumption, sometimes but not always unwarranted, that most of the bands that feature only had a couple of key songs worth the listening. (Not to mention assuming that pretty much only white dudes were doing such songs to start with, or had efforts worth noticing.) Love, Poetry And Revolution is another example of not only comp fever but the way that CD box sets created even bigger overviews; at 66 songs running nearly four hours total, this rivals collections like Rhino's own magisterial four disc effort Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond.

Like that collection, the focus here is on British pop and rock acts, and plenty of acts appear on both, such as The Misunderstood and Tintern Abbey.  Unlike Rhino's effort, though, which provides a solid initial overview of both numerous hits and near hits as well as fellow travellers, the emphasis here is on relative obscurity.  

A handful - such as Spencer Davis Group, the Crazy World OF Arthur Brown, Kevin Coyne and John's Children - have wider reputations but are showcased with less well known cuts or starters efforts, while the rest, occasional later famous members aside, are pretty well the type of bands that are only known in the Shindig/Ugly Things/Bucketful Of Brains world of fandom.  And often deservedly so -so many wonderful stories have surfaced in recollections and remembrances over time thanks to those publications' efforts - which makes this comp, assembled by Tenth Planet/Wooden Hill label owner and enthusiast David Wells, a way in for those who'd like to take a good starter's plunge. Wells has put together a slew of similar compilations himself over time, and his knowledge and research is evident throughout the detailed liner notes as much as the selections themselves.

The best way to hear Love, Poetry And Revolution might be as after-echo - so much in the way of mod, art pop, trashy garage, psychedelic trips and acid freakouts here will remind a listener of others in the field. Plenty of them are veddy English in only the way the time could manage - Blossom Toes's 'I'll Be Late For Tea' isn't all that far from Spinal Tap's nod-and-a-wink parody 'Cups And Cakes' - but that's part of the charm, as much as is the obvious cloning at many points. Tuesday's Children's 'A Strange Light From The East', for example, could just as easily be a Kinks knockoff as a Small Faces one and then a Pink Floyd one as well, a classic example of catching at something happening in the air from a London group that did a few singles but nothing more.

A number of tracks are full-on rarities, including a great demo version of Tintern Abbey's 'Busy Bee', the Mike Stuart Span's quite happily gone 'Second Production" and Second Hand's rather unsettled demo for 'A Fairy Tale'. Meanwhile, sometimes you just need the names. Crocheted Doughnut Ring, Serendipity, Fat Mattress, the Open Mind?  But of course! Also, you gotta love the list of complaints on Felius Andromeda's 'Cheadle Heath Delusions' including "Public houses with no beer," all to string-heavy moodout grooves.

There's a general chronological flow to the collection, so you can hear things from mod to metal (or at least proto metal and prog) as it goes; by the time acts like the underrated T2 turn up, those who prefer their music to be more whimsical might be thinking once is enough.  But there's a great, knowing eye brought by Wells here and hearing moments like a selection from Bill Nelson's solo debut well before Be-Bop Deluxe is its own fun kick. By the time the compilation ends with an unlisted bonus - Lol Coxhill's reinvented 'I Am The Walrus', done for his 1971 album Ear Of Beholder - it almost feels like a valediction for an era that's been rifled, reworked and redone countless times since. If endless worship is a bad idea without trying to build on it, then at least this collection demonstrates something clear: there's a reason why there's all that worship to start with.

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