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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Sumer Is Icumen In (The Pagan Sound of British and Irish Folk 1966-75) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Grapefruit Records is a label that has released a lot of retrospective Various Artists box sets during the last ten years or so, covering many more or less marginal styles of popular music. I have especially enjoyed their boxes representing Folk Rock, Dust on the Nettles - A Journey Through the British Underground Folk Scene 1967-72 and the all-female selection Milk of the Tree - An Anthology of Female Vocal Folk and Singer-Songwriters 1966- 73. This time the focus is on the so called pagan folk, which term is approached quite open-mindedly. Quite a few included artists can be thought of as pagan rockers per se (like COMUS without a doubt is), but I don't see any trouble in that. The music itself is what matters. Anyway, now there are pretty many artists from the ProgArchives database, so I took the opportunity to add this set here, which naturally would be questionable for the mentioned Folk Rock sets, despite surely being interesting for several of us.

The editing of both the musical contents and the 38-page, lushly illustrated booklet in this the clamshell-shaped box is very good, I only have two minor complaints: the track times are missing, and the font is a bit too tiny for comfortable reading. Like in every respectable box set, each track is accompanied by brief but highly informative liner notes on the chosen artists. Here's an example:

STRAWBS - Canon Dale (alternative version) Not originally issued, recorded 10/70.

"The nearest thing we have these days to the wandering minstrels of the Dark Age", was how one music journalist described Strawbs in October 1970, shortly after the recruitment of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman and former Velvet Opera rhythm section Richard Hudson and John Ford had given the band a broader musical palette. A performance on John Peel's Top Gear show that October saw them premier a new Hudson song called 'Canon Dale', drenched in his expansive sitar work. The band's next studio album, the May 1971 release From the Witchwood, continued that mystical theme, with Dave Cousins' terrific 'Witchwood' and a slightly more restrained rendition of 'Canon Dale' firmly exploring territory defined in 1969 by pop pundit Lillian Roxon as "acid folk".

It would be too worksome to even try dealing with the entire contents of 60 pieces. Instead, here's a quick and probably incomplete list of the other PA-included artists, in the running order and with a few track namings along the way: Third Ear Band, Traffic ('John Barleycorn'), Steeleye Span, Amber, Synanthesia, Mike Oldfield ('On Horseback'), Fairport Convention (Tam Lin'), Chimera, The Sallyangie, Dr. Strangely Strange, Jan Dukes De Grey ('Sorcerers'), Oberon, Fresh Maggots, Tea & Symphony, Principal Edwards' Magic Theatre, Pentangle ('Cruel Sister'), Incredible String Band, Mellow Candle, Curved Air ('Elfin Boy'), Spriguns of Tolgus. This list alone shows how much information on vintage Folk Rock, both household names and obscurities, one gets from this set.

Matti | 4/5 |


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