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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Strange Pleasures CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

4.00 | 5 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars Decca have done it again, with a second 3 CD box set as a follow-up to 'Legend Of A Mind'. 'Strange Pleasures' also comes with copious notes and illustrations in a fat little booklet - and the current price at Amazon.UK (mid May 2008) is a real bargain at less than 13 quid.

In the intervening 5 years, the Eclectic label (now Esoteric) have released a number of gems from the Decca/Deram archives, so now you might cynically said 'Strange Pleasures' is cheap sampler from some of those reissued (remastered for the most part) albums - but you can't go too far with that thought. Simply there is a lot of material which you will only find on 30 or 40 year old vinyl.

Whilst 'Strange Pleasures' is equally good or better than some of the competing labels' efforts to jump on the 'Legend Of A Mind' bandwagon, this isn't quite as good or balanced as 'Legend'. The compiler has again selected more than one track from the better known bands, so we once more get a couple of Caravan tracks (which IMHO are good choice), but the two TYA tracks are near forgettable, and two Moody Blues are disappointing. Elsewhere we are taken back to forgotten recordings (e.g. minor hit singles) which smack of pop rather than underground. There are number of other obscurities i.e. bands forgotten or never heard of, (even by the few of us old enough to have been around when first released): these are a mixed blessing. Some lack music creditability for this type of sampler, as not being strongly representative and/or weak musically. However, the good news, others I'm most pleased to see here: the early brass rock Satisfaction (I complained at their absence from 'Legend'), the Taste spin-off Stud (experimental rock of 1970), Darryl Way's Wolf (the first example of John Etheridge guitar with violin, here with band leader Way) and too an echo from Decca's 1969 sampler 'Wowie Zowie', Touch's Down At Circe's Place. I must comment as a devoted Touch fan, the biography of the band is the best and most detailed I've read.

I felt with the first album of the set I had to wade through 2 or 3 undistinguished choices before getting back to a track that wowed me. So I guess in the end, once you are familiar with this recording you will become selective in choices, with the weak tracks destined never to be played again. As hinted above a 4 star, which means 'Legend of A Mind' as a superior set, closer to 4.7. As I've written before a box set for those with fond memories of the period, or might use this as evidence(?) of musical changes occurring 1966 to 1975 .

Dick Heath | 4/5 |


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