What does it sound like?:
The third in David Wells’ enjoyable series of themed boxsets on Grapefruit Records, this follows logically from 1967 (when pop was delightfully all over the place) and 1968 (when studios went crazy on phasing) to present the psychedelic pop sound of 1969. But what really was psychedelic pop in that year, and is this a good showcase? This is another well-presented and enjoyable volume that is aimed at the genre-obsessive listener, but the problems of amassing record-collecting obscurities with some bigger names to present a snapshot of the era are starting to show. Thus, Procol Harum (“A Salty Dog”) The Move, The Pretty Things and Status Quo stand out form the other 70-or-so group of local heroes, the unlucky, the also-rans, and never-stood-a-chance groups. Highlights include bootleg favorites like the glorious title track by The Factory (think the Who meets a Pink Floyd B side) Fresh Air’s proto-Glam “Running Wild”), the fuzzed-up Orange Machine, Lemmy singing with Sam Gopal, and the Scottish legends The Writing on the Wall. But the problem here is the emphasis on ‘pop’. For the decision to sidestep the prog, blues or heaviness of 1969 records means you are left with a lot of material that sounds more like the social club/cabaret circuit than the stuff of the underground: Green Union’s cover of “She Said She Said” being particularly painful.
What does it all *mean*?
The pop/rock divergence was only just setting in by 1969 (most bands except for Led Zep and Pink Floyd still did singles), but perhaps the “pop” sounds were not really “psychedelic” because that was happening elsewhere? Moreover, aside from reggae, ska or soul, Brit pop in ’69 was starting to get a bit Pickettywitch. All compilations like this are at the mercy of what is easily licensable, and the overall lack of EMI or Decca based bands suggests that these were off limits.
Goes well with…
Companion sets “Let’s Go Down and Blow our Minds” and “Pictures in the Sky”
Might suit people who like…
old Rubble LPs or have lost their aging copies of the “Acid Drops, Spacedust, and Flying Saucers” compilation.