This anthology covers the period between 1967 and 1972 when Island Records was transformed from an importer of reggae to an incubator for some of the more experimental fusions of folk, the classics, jazz, electronics and blues-based rock that were emerging at the time. With airplay dominated by the singles charts, one of the main vehicles for promoting these less commercially-oriented acts was the budget-priced sampler, and Island Records produced probably the most eclectic and engaging series of any record company. Bumpers arguably represents the most broadly-based example but by the time of the last of the series, El Pea, the underground sound was becoming more mainstream and in some ways less innovative.
Sadly the overlap between this anthology and the samplers is not complete - no reggae or jazz/rock - but most of the featured artists are represented and the ensemble captures very well the spirit of the original samplers and, probably more relevantly, the musical tastes of a specific market. Alongside great tracks from obscure artists like McDonald & Giles, Nirvana, Heavy Jelly and Heads, Hands & Feet, are strong tracks by Traffic, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and others.
If you owned any of the old Island samplers you will probably love this anthology. If you are too young to have heard these songs first time round, you are in for a pleasant surprise. This collection not only captures the spirit of those original samplers but also demonstrates that the quality of those artists largely still stands up today.