1970. A new decade and era had dawned. It was farewell to Peace & Love and all the Hippy Drippy trappings and hello to the emergence of ‘progressive’ & ‘heavy’ rock and the so called ‘underground scene’. Now it was the album that was the pre-eminent focus with bands putting their creative juices into creating ‘concepts’ & ‘progressive’ pieces with a new harder sound and an attitude to match. No more giving out flowers and burning joss sticks. Record Companies created subsidiary labels to cater for the new ‘experimental’ bands they fell over themselves to sign. Decca, that most established bastion set up Deram whilst EMI gave birth to the Harvest label & not to be outdone Philips joined the party with their Vertigo imprint. Now Esoteric Records have gathered together the cream of the offerings from 1970 on this new 4CD package showcasing bands many of us being of a certain age grew to love. Championing many of the artists featured on this compilation was my good friend John Peel whose Radio 1 Top Gear Show was essential listening & certainly the conduit that most connected with myself and my contemporaries. Many of the bands featured here became the darlings of the ‘University Circuit’ and i have fond memories of working with quite a few of them at Uni’s & Colleges all over the South Of England. It also changed my DJ work and i would play some ‘underground’ clubs where rather than putting on records to get people on a dancefloor, i would be putting on 20 minute album tracks to an audience sprawled on a College floor (usually with dilated pupils) getting ‘into’ the music. So who does this compilation feature to tantalise us and send us scurrying back down the time tunnel to those far off days. Disc 1 opens with everyone’s darlings of the scene ‘Barclay James Harvest’ with the title song to the compilation ‘Taking Some Time On’ before we move straight on to one of my all time favourite rock bands with Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with the excellent ‘Green Manalishi’ & we are just getting warmed up. A band i worked with often when i did a regular gig in Canterbury feature next in Caravan with the wonderfully titled ‘If I Could Do It All Again, I’d Do It All Over You’, yes we are now definitely getting into the spirit of 1970! and now here comes Ian Gillan belting out ‘Black Night’ and i’m so back there i can smell it. We’re now cooling down a little with Newcastle’s finest Lindisfarne’s ‘Lady Eleanor’ by way of tracks from Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant & Al Stewart. Who’s this with the manic smile, balanced on one leg, well of course its Mr Anderson with his Folk/Pagan/Rock masterpiece ‘The Witches Promise’ (another great personal favourite). One of the most underrated bands of all time, in my opinion, are up next with Blodwyn Pig’s ‘See My Way’, Mick Abrahams is such a great guitarist (and a hilarious radio guest) & taking us towards the close of Disc 1 is one of the aforementioned college’s favourite bands the Edgar Broughton Band with ‘Apache Dropout’, so much better than the oft compiled ‘Out Demons Out!’. OK i’m now fully in the mood as we move on to Disc2 where you can find Kevin Ayres, Traffic, Rare Bird, Wishbone Ash & Yes. The perennial ‘party piece’ that Quo used to play at all their gigs is here with ‘Gerdundula’ sitting next to one of my favourite ‘lost’ bands Locomotive with ‘Rain’. Gentle Giant have their ‘Funny Ways’ & the glorious tones of Roger Chapman & Family have ‘A Song For Me’. Only half way through the set! and on to Disc3, 2 tracks from Dave Edmunds Love Sculpture, a hit from East Of Eden with Jig-A-Jig (i had a hand in promoting) and a move into more esoteric territory with tracks from Quatermass, Cressida & Affinity, a wonderful outing from Pete Brown & Piblokto! with ‘Things May Come And Things May Go, But The Art School Dance Goes On Forever’ (was there ever a better song title?). Emerson, Lake & Palmer & Hawkwind provide the heavy hitters. Disc4 and 4 hours in now, a couple of obscurities from bands High Tide & Stray before the more familiar sound of Curved Air with ‘Situations’ and praise be another of my favourite bands from back in the day Gracious ‘& ‘Heaven’ and that my friends is what its been, 5 hours of re-visiting prog heaven and some very vivid memories. There has not been space to detail every last track but i hope i have given you a taste of what to expect when parting with your hard earned…The whole lovingly compiled set comes in a sturdy clamshell box complete with an excellent booklet as is the norm from the ever excellent Esoteric Records. My head is fed and i am now lying down in a dark room. Enjoy.
Paul Huggett… Cherry Red records do dig out good stuff
Colin Bell… P.s. I forgot to mention in my review for the benefit of my old friend Mick O’Dowd this compilation also contains one of his ‘favourite’s’ Ten Years After..’Love Like A Man’…..
Mick O’Dowd… Colin, that’s got to make it a must have. A really terrific floor-clearer is I remember!
Alan Esdaile… Edgar Broughton Band always put on a great show and I don’t know if you know Colin but Steve Broughton lives in Hastings.
Colin Bell… Yes i do, i believe its either his wife or Edgar’s ex? who has a shop in George Street who i got into conversation with some years back. Yes always a great show.