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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Time Machine: Vertigo Retrospective CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

3.72 | 10 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars 'Time Machine' is the fourth 3 CD compilation to be issued by a UK based record label in the last 3 years, providing an excellent cross section of British rock appearing in its formative years, from approximately 1967 to 1975. And one of several things common to all 4 sets, is the low price (typical less than 15 pounds sterling per box set). Anybody interested in the history of rock music, especially progressive rock, should take time to listen all three set of CDs and the total of 15 hours music held there: Legend Of A Mind (Decca Records) All Good Clean Fun (Liberty & UA/EMI) Ars Longa Vita Brevis (Castle Communications Records). (And some good news. As far as I can make out, only one track appears on two of these box sets - see if you can spot it? As such these 4 CD sets including Time Machine, are probably the best compilations of British progressive rock (and other rock) listed so far in Progarchives.

One lesson you can learn from listening to the mix of the familar and the downright obscure here, is that in those early days progressive rock rarely appeared fully fashioned. Some bands evolved, other disappeared having not got passed a naive level of song writing and arrangement: you can only go so far about witches wizards and fairyland. A second lesson is that from 1967 onwards, rock went into a melting pot with many other forms of musics, plus other ideas of musical arrangement and instrumentation handled with various levels of musical education and versatility. The distillate was the full range of prog rock, blues or heavy rock, and AO rock, of which all were casting around for new ideas, and a few lucky ones produced music that attracted listeners in goodly numbers, and management that would be prepared to trample on heads to get it sold by the truckload. You'll also discover that the first prog bands were able to tap into a variety of musical cross-references, never used previously and more often as not, creating a brand new sound. Alas with time and growing numbers of bands coming onto the scene, the chance to hydribise different musics to make something new became increasingly difficult. So by 1972 it would not be unusual to hear a dozen or so Hammond organ lead bands, that musically sat between Nice and Deep Purple - several of which you'll hear on Time Machine, and many didn't make it passed 1975.

Time Machine reflects well music first issued by Vertigo Records (originally Phonogram's straight and prog rock label), and clearly demonstrates the favoured house musics of the label from the proto metal through to the prog. I'm pleased to see the jazz/ jazzrock side represented too, with Nucleus, although I have to comment Keith Tippett's 'Dedicated To You But Your Weren't Listening' been omitted - especially as it had one of the first Roger Dean Covers - clearly after 35 years record licenses have ceased.

I am not tempted to award the full 5 stars, because folks will question whether all the tunes offered are progressive rock - remember the more liberal term progressive music was used in the 60's, and many tracks here would fit that category. And some of the selection made is debatable or obvious. I From the 4 CD sets named above, I rank this as fourth but still worth buying. I await an Island/WEA offerings, and of course an extended version of CBS's 'Rock Machine Turns You On'

Dick Heath | 4/5 |


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