CD Reviews: Various Artists (Past and Present Records)

VA – Mindexpanders Vol. 1
VA – Maximum Freakbeat
VA – Utopia Daydream: New Rubble Vol. 4
VA – Painting The Time: New Rubble Vol. 6
VA – The Electric Asylum:Rare British Acid Freakrock Vol. 1
VA – Maximum R&B
VA – Acid Dreams
Past and Present

mind-expandersLet’s start this review with the fucking great comp Maximum Freakbeat, originally released in 1998 on the Reverberation label but now released again by the great new reissue label Past and Present. Freakbeat, for those who aren’t sure if they know the genre, is ’60’s-based British/UK rock music based in R&B styles which morphed into psychedelic rock but retained it’s hard, angry edge. In other words, great stuff that will mess with your mind! Artists on this much-sought-after comp include The Fairies (with member John “Twink” Alder later playing with The Pretty Things and the Pink Fairies), Lee Kings (who were mentored by British pop band The Hollies), The Mark Four (later morphed into big-deal British band The Creation), The Motions (lead guitarist would later play in Shocking Blue), Southern Sound (featured guitarist Robbie Blu8nt, who would later work with Robert Plant, among others), The Syndicats (featured a young Steve Howe, later in Yes), The Troggs (of Wild Thing fame) and the mighty Wimple Winch among others. Man, this shit is so cool after listening to it I felt like checking in at a local hotel and destroying the room, the floor, and whatever else I could destroy. Violence provoking for sure.

The comp Mindexpanders is a different story altogether, one that will have you seeing hallucinations and interesting colors. I mean, since I have listened to this I haven’t been the same. Trippy, acid-influenced rock that you can take down the rabbit hole with you. Artists include Jim Sullivan Sound (guitar teacher to Ritchie Blackmore and Steve Howe and a highly influential studio guitarist), Guy Pedersen, Blue Phantom, and Crazy Elephant among many others. Moist of these bands and songs are heretofor unreleased but the first thing you’ll ask yourself is how you’re been able to put up with life without them. Great, great stuff.

Working with Nick Salomon of the Bevis Frond (who also has his own cool psych reissue label by the name of Psychic Circle) Past & Present has started the New Rubble compilation series focusing on uncomped, rarely heard British psych gems. These particular comps were originally released in 2005 on a very obscure label but are now being reissued with gloriously remastered sound so that every organ lick and guitar solo will go straight through your ears to slice your cortex in half with perfect clarity and precision previously unknown to psych! Artists for the more pop-sike based volume 4 include The Endevers (featuring future Decca house producer Wayne Bickerton), Jon (featuring Jim Toomey who would later play with both Titus Groan and The Tourists) and Davie Sands and the Essex among many others. Artists for the more freakrock-based volume 6 include Andy Ellison (former member of the legendary John’s Children), Aphrodite’s Child (features Vangelis on keyboards), The Bystanders (who evolved into the group Man), The Shame (featuring future ELP member Greg Lake on bass), The Velvet Opera (members later formed The Strawbs), The Nashville Teens, and Melody Fair (contained former members of The Syn) among other interesting rare psych acts. Nothing like a great psych comp to get you going in the morning!

The Electric Asylum is a very interesting freakrock comp that posits that the British psychedelic music scene did not cease to exist at midnight on December 31st, 1969 but instead continued on with new musical gadgets and studio gimmicks into the next decade. What this means is that this incredible comp contains rare, previously uncomped psych treasures from 1970 onward! Talk about searing psych! This shit will melt what is left of your brain into the molten goo you always hoped it could become. Artists on this comp include Iron Horse (produced by Eddie Seago who would write hits for Vanity Fare and work with Gary Glitter), Monsoon (also an Eddie Seago production), Danta (proteges of reggae artist Eddy Grant), Vincent Crane’s Atomic Rooster (onetime Atomic Rooster leader), and Steel Mill (whose album was released a full three years after the band had broken up!) among many others. This comp is for those of you who thought great psych rock had ended by 1973!

Maximum R&B was originally released on a small, obscure label in the mid-’90’s and this wonderful compilation of great rare ’60’s British R&B culls twenty-seven great cuts from some of the most obscure bands ever formed! Out of print for over a decade, thank you Past and Present for resurrecting these great cuts, some of which are sure to have you grooving for a long time. Artists include The Betterdays (whose leader Bob Pitcher is now a vicar in Wales), The Birds (whose members included a young Ron Wood of Rolling Stones fame), Bo Street Runners (featuring a young Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac on drums), The Deejays (whose songs were overseen by Benny Andersson, later of Abba), The Fairies (whose drummer “Twink” went on to play with Tomorrow, Petty Things and Pink Fairies). The Groundhogs (at onetime mentored by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones), The Muleskinners (featuring former Faces member and Stones sideman Ian McLagan), and The Sneekers (whose song on this coimp features Led Zep’s Jimmy Page on lead guitar) among many others. If you love harmonica-driven raucus R&B, you’ll love this comp.
The last comp on our list, Acid Dreams, has one hell of a pedigree for underground music fans. This collection of ’60’s U.S. hard guitar-psych was first issued all the way back in 1979 after it was compiled by a record shop owner in Berlin, Germany. It has previously been issued on CD but often with the incorrect track listing and no liner noted to speak of, which makes sense as the liner notes would have revealed the screwed up order of the songs. When it was originally released, the shop owner had it pressed on vinyl and only 77 copies were distributed, most through his store and some given away to friewnds and family. Let’s just say this comp was really fucking rare, okay? Thanks to Past and Present, the comp is being reissued so everyone who loves great psyche can get their hot little hands on it. Artists on this comp include Outcasts (whose song 1523 Blair was the address of the studio at which it was recorded and which was owned by country singer Kenny Rogers’ brother Leland), The Music Machine, Balloon Farm (one of whose members became Bruce Springsteen’s first manager), and the Zakary Thaks among many others. For those who like having their brain seared with molten psych-rock, this comp is for you!