VAR­I­OUS ARTISTS

A box of seven of the UK’s rarest and most ex­pen­sive freak­beat and psych sev­ens.

Prog - - Echoes Old Turns... - FL

One of the nice things the con­sol­i­da­tion of the mu­sic in­dus­try has given us is projects like this. Fifty years after they were barely avail­able on vary­ing im­prints, Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic can gather long-lost gems from Decca, Deram, Fon­tana et al, and turn them into a mag­i­cal card­board box with fac­sim­ile seven-inch pa­per sleeves and an in­for­ma­tive book­let.

This arte­fact has been compiled by jour­nal­ist, his­to­rian, de­signer and freak­beat afi­cionado (and for­mer Record Col­lec­tion sub­ject in this very mag) Phil Smee, the man be­hind the Bam Caruso la­bel, whose 20-vol­ume Rub­bles se­ries cov­ers sim­i­lar ground. So sim­i­lar, in fact, that nine of the 14 tracks on show here fea­tured on Rub­bles, while the other five have pre­vi­ously ap­peared on com­pi­la­tions such as A Per­fumed Gar­den, Choco­late Soup

For Di­a­bet­ics and Trea­cle Tof­fee World.

It’s a lovely pack­age, and if you’re into this sort of thing you’ll have all these tracks al­ready. But who cares? Not you! It’s from an era when am­bi­tion fre­quently out­stripped abil­ity and it didn’t mat­ter a jot, lend­ing much of this col­lec­tion a bam­boo­zling, de­mented charm. Take Ja­son Crest’s Black Mass, which is al­most en­tirely com­prised of tape spools spun back­wards, ma­ni­a­cal shrieks and chant­ing monks. It’s great! Or The Fairy­tale’s cob­webby Guess I Was Dream­ing, which tells tales of one-eyed midgets and was later cov­ered by The Kings­men.

Then there’s Say Those Magic Words by Birds Birds, a clat­ter­ing chunk of prim­i­tive mod R&B fea­tur­ing Ron­nie Wood. Or Lis­ten To The Sky by Sands, an am­bi­tious ar­range­ment that peaks with an ex­tended in­stru­men­tal sec­tion rem­i­nis­cent of the Bat­tle Of Bri­tain.

That this was orig­i­nally on the

B-side of a song called Mrs. Gille­spie’s Re­frig­er­a­tor re­veals much about the state of A&R in 1967, but that’s A Kalei­do­scope… for you: be­guil­ing, mostly with­out prece­dent, oc­ca­sion­ally hi­lar­i­ous and al­ways en­ter­tain­ing.

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