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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Nice Enough To Eat CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

3.25 | 5 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars An appetite for Heavy Jelly

One of the earlier samplers of bands from the island Records stable, "Nice enough to eat" is a single LP of 12 tracks.

From a prog and prog-related perspective, the tracks of greatest interest are:

"We used to know" by Jethro Tull from "Stand up"

"Sing me a song that I know" by Tull offshoot Bloodwyn Pig

"Forty thousand headmen" by Traffic

King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid man" from their seminal first album.

"Gungamai" from Quintessence self titled album

"Cajun woman" by Fairport Convention from their "Unhalfbricking" album

The remaining tracks though are also by quality acts, often with prog connections or influences. Spooky Tooth for example have been nominated for inclusion on this site a number of times. Here they offer the rather commercial Gary Wright song "Better by you, Better than me".

Looking a bit more closely at the tracks on offer, Fairport's "Cajun woman" is a rather muddled bluegrass inspired Richard Thompson composition which is hardly the best selection to represent their "Unhalfbricking" album. Mott the Hoople's "At the crossroads" finds Ian Hunter in full Bob Dylan impersonation mode, the bluesy reflective nature of the song once again failing to offer an accurate indication of what to expect from the band. That aside, it is a wonderful track featuring a fine vocal performance.

Jethro Tull's "We used to know" is certainly one of the best tracks on their "Stand up" album, but fans of the band's later work may find the sound unfamiliar with its dominant lead guitar. The most interesting track is the 8 minute "I keep singing that same old song" by Heavy Jelly. This burst of early keyboards driven prog suffers quality wise from the groove compression required to fit it onto the closing band of side one of the LP. It is though a remarkably assured number which winds through various interludes, sounding all the while rather rough and ready, but with an inherent tightness. Interestingly, it is the only track for which the sleeve notes do not have a source album listed.

Tull offshoot Blodwyn Pig's "Sing me a song that I know" is a typical blues rock number with heavy emphasis on the brass playing of Jack Lancaster. A couple of fairly nondescript tracks by Traffic and Nick Drake lead into King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid man", the song which introduced them to an astonished public. It still sounds as striking today, but it does seem a little incongruous for it to be hidden away half way through the second side here.

Quintessence "Gungamai" is a typically repetitive song with fine guitar work. It represents the band's style well. The closing track is the wonderfully named "Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal" by Dr. Strangely Strange. The sound is of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band meeting the Incredible String Band.

In all, a good cross section of artists from the Island label. At the time of its release, this album was considered to be a fine representation of progressive rock.

The sleeve is rather uninspired for an Island sampler, being made up of letter shaped sweets or biscuits, spelling out the band names and album title.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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