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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A late harvest of underground and progressive music, 29 May 2007
This review is from: A Breath Of Fresh Air: A Harvest Records Anthology 1969-1974 (Audio CD)
Long long ago, Harvest Records issued a double vinyl set `Picnic: A Breath Of Fresh Air', (see below). And now 36 or so years later, Harvest Records/EMI present 'Breath Of Fresh Air' - the picnic being long devoured - a full three CD set and with only 3 common tracks(marked: *).

I've thought hard, stared into by my now ageing vinyl collection and I can't think that any Harvest signings from the first 5 years of the label's existence have been omitted. Therefore we are presented with a variety of musical styles which happily fell under the joint headings of underground/progressive music, circa 1970. Hence some excellent folk from the Collins sisters, Michael Chapman and Roy Harper. Proto-gothic/agiprop pops up several times from Edgar Broughton, but I'm not sure of the choice of Broughton's 'Evil' to open the whole; there are better tunes on 'Wasa Wasa'. The avant blues rock of Pete Brown (Jack Bruce's lyricist), comes up several times. Good examples of the then blossoming heavy rock of Deep Purple and Quatermass. The beautiful weirdness of The Third Ear Band, Ron Geesin, Kevin Ayers, (a personal hurray for the inclusion of 'Song From The Bottom Of A Well'). Syd Barrett on the edge of complete mental collapse. We are happily given the full danceable, whack of Babe Ruth's Tamla inspired 'Wells Fargo', with the faux Junior Wells sax break. There is Roy Wood's ELO, before they became Mr Lynn's -and to remind of where ELO came from, the Move is represented. And I'm thinking: is that Jan Akkermann track with former Yes-man Pete Banks? And then you'll find a few bands the bands time almost forgot -e.g. Forest, Spontaneous Combustion, Bombadil (hey, I have this track on a single record!). The choice of Floyd is good - for me. And there is Marc Almond!?

`Breath Of Fresh Air' is as good but no better than any one of the excellent 5 compilations from the same period issued by Decca (`Legend Of A Mind'), Island (`Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal') , Castle (`Ars Longa Vita Brevis'), Vertigo (`Time Machine'), Liberty-UA/EMI, (`All Good Clean Fun'), in the last 5 years. However, this particular Harvest set is released quite some time after their old competitors in the provision of underground music/progressive music/emerging heavy rock have done so. Similar to the other five, 3 CD sets all issued in the last 5 years, 'Breath' covers music recorded and released by Harvest in the late 60's to early 70's, and too has with copious and colourful liner notes. (Okay, they did issue the larger 95 track, 5 CD box set `Harvest Festival', taking musical examples from a broader period, and with a large book almost a decade ago, but it came/comes with a somewhat deterrent price).

As a footnote: Dare I suggest that it is worth buying all 6 sets, (i.e. 18 CDs in total, especially with duplication across the sets being almost zero), covering a very, very good cross section of familiar and unfamiliar British rock music in its development and blossoming, (plus a few offshore examples), and get a real bargain for about 100 quid?

LP 1:
1. Into The Fire - Deep Purple
2. Mother Dear - BJH
3. Embryo - Pink Floyd*
4. Twisted Track - Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments
5. Glenlogie - Shirley & Dolly Collins
6. The Good Mr Square - Pretty Things
7. Song Of The Ages - Roy Harper
8. This Worried Feeling - Bakerloo
9. Eleanor's Cake Which Ate Her - Kevin Ayers
10. Again & Again - The Greatest Show On Earth

LP 2:
1. Water - Third Ear Band
2. Terrapin - Syd Barrett
3. A Glade Somewhere - Forest
4. Golden Country Kingdom - Pete Brown
5. Round & Round - Panama Ltd*
6. Black Sheep Of The Family - Quatermass*
7. Postcards Of Scarborough - Michael Chapman
8. Maybe My Mind - Tea & Sympathy
9. Old Gopher - Edgar Broughton Band
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Mar 2009 03:15:19 GMT
Brilliant!. Not a word out of place. And my God a track list. How do other people review Albums without telling people the tracks? but they do more often than not. Especially compilations, what's the frirst thing you want to know about a compilaton?...who's on it. Well done.

Posted on 19 Jul 2009 19:08:06 BDT
FT says:
I have fond memories of the Picnic album although I never owned my own copy. Although there are some good tracks on this, I wish I could get an exact copy of Picnic with the original versions and no bonus tracks.

Posted on 16 Aug 2009 01:12:12 BDT
Glenn Cook says:
This must be one of the most useful reviews I've seen. Buy all the LPs for about a 100?
Now how could I get those past the wife??

Posted on 28 Oct 2010 22:38:06 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 28 Oct 2010 22:38:49 BDT]

Posted on 11 Jan 2013 17:03:49 GMT
This indeed an excellent review. Although I'm nearly 6 years after the event. I may follow the advise and aquire a few of the other compilations. I have Island's "Strangely Strange but Oddly Noraml" my original vinyl " Nice Enough to Eat" has, with much regret,passed on to others. These were better compilations. Simply because artists were promoted instead of being part of a 'best of' collection.
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Location: Loughborough, Leics, UK

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