This is a genuine slice of 60's era English pop-psyche. I have to admit I bought the set because the lead singer is Jess Roden. He recorded some good things with the band BRONCO, and on his own as a solo artist. I'd heard a couple of things by THE ALAN BOWN! with (the late) Robert Palmer on vocals, and I knew the band was a popular r&b/soul draw in the clubs early on. They are usually mentioned with THE ACTION, THE ARTWOODS, ZOOT MONEY'S BIG ROLL BAND, and others of the period.
The group changed their sound during the hey-day of British bands in the late 60's. Listen to "Toyland", "Magic Handkerchief", "Penny For Your Thoughts", and "Technicolor Dream" for good examples of quintessential English pop-psyche from the period. But the band was capable of ripping out something harder-listen to Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" for a good example of that side of the band. "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" is rocking and jazzy at the same time-the horns, the beat, and Roden's strong vocals come together to make this tune special.
The band heard on this album is Jess Roden-vocals, Alan Bown-trumpet/flugelhorn, Tony Catchpole-guitar, Jeff Bannister-organ/piano/Mellotron, John Helliwell (later in SUPERTRAMP)-sax/clarinet/recorder, Stan Haldane-bass, and Vic Sweeeney-drums. Robert Palmer is on other albums by the band.
Disc One is the stereo version of the album, and Disc Two is in monophonic sound. The bonus tracks include a stereo version of "Little Lesley", and mono Singles of "Toyland", and "Story Book", along with "Little Lesley" and "We Can Help You". The 14 page booklet tells the story of the band and the trouble they had releasing this album. There's period graphics and photos of the band which help flesh out their story. The sound is very full (without compression) and clean. Both versions of the album are worthwhile hearing, unless you're not into monophonic sound. I was ready to like the mono version over stereo, but found both were very pleasing to hear.
Fans of late 60's English pop-psyche will like this. Is this some long lost gem that's been recovered? Not really. But it is a good example of this type of music from that whole exciting period in Britain. The playing is great, the vocals are good, and the lyrics are representative of the times. As I said-this is a slice of late 60's English pop-psyche-and that's good enough.