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Various Artists (Label Samplers) The Rock Machine Turns You On album cover
3.12 | 6 ratings | 1 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Bob Dylan
2. Can't Be So Bad - Moby Grape
3. Fresh Garbage - Spirit
4. I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar - The United States of America
5. Time of the Season - The Zombies
6. Turn On A Friend - The Peanut Butter Conspiracy
7. Sisters of Mercy - Leonard Cohen

Side 2
8. My Days Are Numbered - Blood, Sweat and Tears
9. Dolphins Smile - The Byrds
10. Scarborough Fair / Canticle - Simon and Garfunkel
11. Statesboro Blues - Taj Mahal
12. Killing Floor - The Electric Flag
13. Nobody's Got Any Money In The Summer - Roy Harper
14. Come Away Melinda - Tim Rose
15. Flames - Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera

Line-up / Musicians

Per track listing

Releases information

CBS records PR22

Thanks to easy livin for the addition
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VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) The Rock Machine Turns You On ratings distribution

(6 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (67%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) The Rock Machine Turns You On reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars 40 years old, and still sounding good

"The rock machine turns you on" was one of the first budget label samplers to be released in the UK. The album, released in 1968, sold for 15 shillings (75 pence), less than half the cost of a full priced LP at the time.

By 1968, the underground music scene was blossoming, helped on by the psychedelic experimentation of bands such as Pink Floyd and Moby Grape. Record labels were falling over each other to sign bands who showed an inclination to push the boundaries, but then found that they needed a way to present those bands to the public. Radio stations, especially in the UK, were still very immature, with the pirate radio stations, the only ones playing pop, sticking to the relatively safe chart records. Thus the record label sampler was born, and sold in vast numbers.

This collection clearly predates the halcyon days of prog, and thus fits neatly into a proto-prog definition. While we can safely pass by artists such as Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel from the point of view of this site, there are plenty of tracks of interest here.

Blood Sweat and Tears "My days are numbered" is taken from their only album with Al Kooper as their leader. As such, it does not feature the familiar voice of David Clayton- Thomas, but it is based on the exciting brass rock which became the band's trademark. The Electric Flag offer an upbeat rendition of the blues standard "Killing floor", a song which Led Zeppelin would use in their "Lemon song" a couple of years later. Mike Bloomfield, who would team up with Al Kooper when the latter left BS&T, adds some fine guitar work to the song.

Tim Rose's song is an impassioned cover of the lovely "Come away Melinda", a song which Uriah Heep would make their own about a year later on their first album. Moby Grape's "Can't be so bad" is a wonderfully arranged song which begs the question, why did they not find the enormous success they deserved. The song is progressively structured with superb instrumentation.

Spirit were introduced to many of us by samplers such as this, my own introduction being through "Give a life take a life" on "Fill your head with rock". The track here, "Fresh garbage" is an adventurous piece taken from their self titled album. The Zombies "Time of the season" will be familiar to most listeners, the track featuring the wonderful organ playing of soon to depart Rod Argent, who would shortly found the prog band bearing his name.

Elsewhere, Taj Mahal demonstrates how he was such an under appreciated master of the blues with "Statesboro blues" while friend of Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, is represented by the Al Stewart like "Nobody's got any money in the summer". Elmer Gantry, who much later would sing on an Alan Parsons Project album, introduces his Velvet Opera here, "Flames" being a good but undistinguished piece of driving rock. At the time of this release, Leonard Cohen was virtually unknown in the UK. His "Songs of Leonard Cohen" would soon change that though, helped in no small part by songs such as "Sisters of mercy", included here.

"The rock machine turns you on" was a pioneering sampler album which introduced many bands and artists we now acknowledge as greats. Its value as a source of inspiration to investigate many new and exciting albums can only really be appreciated by those who in the late 1960's handed over their 15 shillings in exchange for a ticket to a whole new world of music.

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