SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing cd’s Lets Go Down And Blow Our Minds – The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1967 (3cd Set) and In The Year 2525 Zager & Evans

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In anticipation next year of the 50th anniversary of the ‘Summer of Love’ comes this superb 4 hour 3 cd set. Compiled by David Wells who also compiled the ‘I’m A Freak’ comp reviewed earlier this year on these pages. If I was asked (and I have been many times!) what was the best year for music? without hesitation I answer 1967. Pop/Rock music hit an all time creative high, Sgt.Pepper, say no more. But away from the obvious, bands (or groups!) all over Britain experimented like never before. Soul, Folk, R’n’B, Pop Acts some with the help of chemicals (allegedly!) embraced psychedelia, donned kaftans, beads, tye dye shirts and generally blissed out. Not by a long chalk were they all successful in the commercial sense, but that’s not the point, some bands like the Cornwall based obscure T.J.Assembly pressed just 25 copies of their record as a momento of a unique moment in time for them. I love that attitude. There are many obscure and wonderful bands and tracks to bathe in on this 80 track compilation, for example The Attack Geranium Pond Dantalians Chariot The Late and Tintern Abbey to name but a few. However there is also oodles of ‘names’ to enjoy and not with the obvious overcompiled tracks, Arthur Brown’s ‘Give Him A Flower’ being a personal favourite which brings back some very happy memories! The Alan Bown, Episode Six, Johns Children, Spencer Davis, The Pretty Things, David Bowie, Honeybus, Procol Harum, The Move, are just some of the other artists giving of their creative best. If you have any interest in psyche at all you will be in seventh heaven here. As I mentioned earlier 1967 was and is my favourite year for music and indeed the year I took my first steps into the music biz. This release is a wonderful reminder of halcyon days, can’t believe its been 50 years! Enjoy.

IN THE YEAR 2525 (THE RCA MASTERS 1969/70) Zager & Evans
Skipping forward in time two years to 1969, another momentous year, Armstrong on the moon, Vietnam protests, and the release of the prophetically worded ‘In The Year 2525’. Indeed the lyrics seem even more relevant today than back in the day. The excellent sleeve notes point out that in fact ITY2525 was actually written in 1964 even more remarkable! This release contains two albums, 2525 Exordium & Terminus and 1970’s Zager & Evans. ITY2525 was of course a worldwide hit, No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic and spawned 60 covers in 7 languages. I guess however Z & E still fall into the ‘one hit wonder’ category. However listening to this release its clear that they had a lot more to offer. All the 24 tracks on this release were written by Evans and his talent for storytelling is self evident. Of the two albums the first one is a gentle, wistful affair ‘In The Land Of The Green’ being a good example, and at odds with the lead track. However 1970’s Zager & Evans is a different story altogether opening with the ultra trippy ‘Overture’ its like they went backwards to 1967! But then as the sleevenotes again inform us a lot of the material was written before 2525, whatever, for me the second album is far more experimental and interesting. The follow up single to 2525 included here (in 2 versions) is ‘Mr. Turnkey’ a song that unsurprisingly didn’t gain airplay given its subject matter (rape). Evans clearly had a dark dystopian side. Certainly an interesting and thought provoking listen overall.
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Til next time……  Colin

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