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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Revolution: Underground Sounds of 1968 CD (album) cover

REVOLUTION: UNDERGROUND SOUNDS OF 1968

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

 

Various Genres

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The era of psychedelic rock in the late sixties has been compiled many times. This new Esoteric Recordings 3-CD box approaches that innovative era from quite a fresh (and definitely prog-minded) view, by concentrating on the year 1968 only, on British music.

The 2-page introduction by Mark Powell is in itself an excellent summarization of the most radical artistic development of rock that took place within a few years. The changes really started in the spring of 1967. The Beatles had a leading role, and all of a sudden bands that had been playing r&b changed their style, e.g. The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Cream, Procol Harum.. "The emphasis was now on 'serious' rock music. The single was not seen as an adequate medium to express one's artistic ideas, albums were ambitious and often conceptual in nature and tracks were up to twenty minutes long catering to the demands of an eager 'underground' audience." The terms underground and progressive "came to encompass many different musical styles that were all listened to and purchased by the same social group comprising mainly of hippies and students. Styles such as psychedelic rock, jazz-rock, space rock, folk rock and blues-rock all became classed as 'Progressive' or 'Underground'", Powell writes. The year 1968 is perhaps the most fruitful year ever in the development of rock. There were also various media supporting the new artists, and Powell gives a lot of credit to the legendary DJ John Peel.

The 48-page illustrated booklet introduces each artist in alphabetical order (not the running order) which is wise. I'd preferred the print to be slightly larger. The texts are well written and contain a lot of information in an economic space (roughly one page per artist). Many of the artists aren't that well known by even an advanced listener, so the set is very worthy also as a reference source. Well, especially in the case of GENESIS (represented by 'One Eyed Hound' and 'That's Me') the band's latest phases are a bit irrelevant in this context... About the selection of artitsts; anyone with a good knowledge on early prog can easily name several important bands that are missing: Pink Floyd, The Nice, Family, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine. The best known prog acts included here, besides Genesis, are JETHRO TULL ('My Sunday Feeling'), CARAVAN ('Place of My Own' and 'Magic Man'), VdGG ('People You Were Going to'), PROCOL HARUM ('Shine on Brightly') and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ('Early Morning' and 'Mr. Sunshine'). TRAFFIC's here too, and so is GILES, GILES & FRIPP ('Suite No. 1').

Of course this set isn't particularily about [proto] prog, nor about psychedelic rock even though a part of the contents naturally naturally can be pigeonholed into psychedelic rock: TOMORROW (featuring Steve Howe), PRETTY THINGS, SAM GOPAL... First and foremost the set showcases the diversity of styles. There are folk rock acts such as PENTANGLE and JOHN MARTYN, blues-rock such as FLEETWOOD MAC ('Black Magic Woman'), STATUS QUO ('Paradise Flat'), JOHN MAYALL ('Fly Tomorrow') and JEFF BECK ('Shape of Things'). DEEP PURPLE both starts and ends the whole set ('And the Address' and 'Mandrake Root'). BRIAN AUGER & JULIE DRISCOLL's 'This Wheel's on Fire' and ARTHUR BROWN's 'Fire!' were the ones I'd replace for being so often compiled. Examples of musicians that found fame in their later bands are Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood (of IDLE RACE and THE MOVE respectively) before they joined forces in ELO. Also the Shulman Brothers of Gentle Giant are here: Simon Dupree & the Big Sound released the psychedelic single 'We Are the Moles' as THE MOLES, which was rumoured to be The Beatles in disguise!

Well, my review turned out to be more like an overall introduction to this set, but understandably reviewing separate songs would be slightly unfocussed in this case. This is exactly the kind of a compilation of which one doesn't have to like each song, and it's extremely unlikely anyway. But despite having some tracks the average listener probably has already, this gives a wonderful and deeply educational slice of rock history.

Matti | 4/5 |

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