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Legend of a mind: part 2
on 12 May 2008
Decca have done it again, with a second 3 CD box set as a follow-up to 'Legend Of A Mind'. 'Strange Pleasures' also comes with copious notes and illustrations in a fat little booklet - and the current price at Amazon.UK (mid May 2008) is a real bargain at less than 13 quid.
In the intervening 5 years, the Eclectic label (now Esoteric) have released a number of gems from the Decca/Deram archives, so now you might cynically said 'Strange Pleasures' is cheap sampler from some of those reissues (remastered for the most part) albums - but you can't go too far with that thought. Simply there is a lot of material which you will only find on 30 or 40 year old vinyl.
Whilst 'Strange Pleasures' is equally good or better than some of the competing labels' efforts to jump on the 'Legend Of A Mind' bandwagon, this isn't quite as good or balanced as 'Legend'. The compiler has again selected more than one track from the better known bands, so we once more get a couple of Caravan tracks (which IMHO are good choice), but the two TYA tracks are far less memorable, and two Moody Blues are disappointing. Elsewhere we are taken back to forgotten recordings (e.g. minor hit singles) which smack of pop rather than underground. There are number of other obscurities i.e. bands forgotten or never heard of, (even by the few of us old enough to have been around when first released): these are a mixed blessing. Some lack music creditability for this type of sampler, as not being strongly representative and/or weak musically. However, the good news, there are others I'm most pleased to see here: the early brass rock of Satisfaction (I complained at their absence from `Legend'), the Taste spin-off Stud (experimental rock of 1970, parallelling Patto or Skid Row at the time), Darryl Way's Wolf (the first example of John Etheridge's guitar with violin, here with band leader Way) and too an echo from Decca's 1969 sampler 'Wowie Zowie', Touch's "Down At Circe's Place". I must comment as a devoted Touch fan, the biography of the band in the booklet is the best and most detailed I've read. But I also note that between the CD sets `Legend' and `Strange Pleasures', these still have not completely duplicated those tracks found on `Wowie Zowie' - does the compiler have some problems with straighter jazz and some blues rock?
Because of some poorer/less satisfactory choices than before, I felt especially with the first album of this set that I had to wade through 2 or 3 undistinguished tunes before getting back to a track that wowed me. So I guess in the end, once you are familiar with this recording you will become selective in choices, with the weak tracks destined never to be played again.
Rating: 3.5 stars having previously marked 'Legend of A Mind', a superior set, 4 stars. Admittedly I have to reassess the star ratings I've given to couple of those competing box sets issued since 2003. In particular, 'Strange Pleasures' is a box set for those with fond memories of the period, or might use this as evidence(?)of musical changes occurring 1966 to 1975.