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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Losing Our Virginity
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£18.59+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 14 February 2014
Seems odd now, but there was a time when record labels really meant something. In the late 60s and early 70s I trusted Island, Harvest and Virgin. They didn’t have a sound, like Tamla, but they had an ethos, a spirit of experimentation. I cared about these labels. While inevitably each had duds, for a while the success rate was high, at least to my ears. And there’s a way to revisit each with CD sets: Island has the Strangely Strange compilation, Harvest the excellent but pricey Harvest Festival, and now we have this.

It’s a fascinating listen, a mix of old favourites with some tracks, indeed a couple of artists, I’ve never heard before (though I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t hear Boxer again). Overall certainly worth getting for the nostalgia, and just about all of the early major artists on Virgin are represented. Looking down the list of early Virgin Releases there aren’t many that are missing from this compilation – the first is Chili Charles’s ‘Busy Corner’, and who bought that? Ok I did, but it wasn’t that great, and was soon deleted along with the Tom Newman LP and the Manor Live LP (both of which are represented here).

The Virginity set does have the appearance of having been cobbled together without much care.

The Hatfield and David Bedford tracks on Disk 2 have been swapped round so they are labelled incorrectly on the cover. The other HATN track is Fitter Stoke, not Stroke. A couple of tracks are from the Caroline label rather than Virgin (though I enjoyed hearing Egg again, and would have liked tracks from a couple of other Caroline releases that I bought on LP). I enjoyed hearing White Noise for the first time, but this is the name of the album not a band, it’s by David Vorhaus.

One major omission of course is Tangerine Dream – Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze appear with tracks from their solo albums, but you’d really expect to at least have an excerpt from Phaedra or Rubycon on here somewhere. Earlier TD compilations showed that Virgin were prepared to reduce long TD tracks to short extracts (exceptionally short extracts in the case of Dream Sequence, where Phaedra lasts less than a minute and a half).

It also seems extraordinary not to have anything from Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom. In fact while Virgin was very much an album label, there are a disproportionate number of singles on here: the two from Robert Wyatt, Hatfield’s Let Eat Again (which they introduced on stage as a shameless attempt at writing a hit, which it wasn’t), Can’s Silent Night (oh dear), Kevin Coyne’s Marlene (it was good to hear this again, one of the tracks I’ve not heard since the 70s)...

There’s space on the CDs for the various other omissions that I’m sure folks will point out – you could fit another quarter hour of music on the second disk, and almost that much again on disk 3.

And the booklet is a disgrace. It did start by telling me a couple of things I didn’t know about Virgin (the author had read RB’s autobiography, whereas I haven’t), but then it had very little to say about the tracks on the CDs. It would have been nice to have a track by track guide or at least be told which albums they are from or show the covers – surely some of these must still be available, do the current owners of Virgin Records not want us to buy their back catalogue?

Still, it’s sold at a low price of just over a tenner for a 3CD set – taking inflation into account, the 35/- (35 shilling) LPs sold by Virgin in the early days would probably now equate to over £20 each, for 40 minutes of music). It’s a great nostalgia trip, and I heard some stuff I didn’t know and that I enjoyed. It’s just a shame that with a little bit more care it could have been so much better.

And here are the early Virgin releases...
V2001 - Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
V2002 - Gong - Flying Teapot
V2003 - V.A. - Manor Live
V2004 - Faust - IV
V2005 - Henry Cow - Legend
V2006 - Link Wray - Beans And Fatback
V2007 - Gong - Angels Egg
V2008 - Hatfield And The North - Hatfield And The North
V2009 - Chili Charles - Busy Corner
V2010 - Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
V2011 - Henry Cow - Unrest
V2012 - Kevin Coyne - Blame It On The Night
V2013 - Mike Oldfield - Hergest Ridge
V2014 - Slapp Happy - Slapp Happy
V2015 - Captain Beefheart - Unconditionally Guaranteed
V2016 - Edgar Froese - Aqua
V2017 - Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom
V2018 - Comus - To Keep From Crying
V2019 - Gong - You
V2020 - David Bedford - Star's End
V2021 - Ivor Cutler - Dandruff
V2022 - Tom Newman - Fine Old Tom
V2023 - Captain Beefheart - Bluejeans and Moonbeams
V2024 - Slapp Happy/Henry Cow - Desperate Straights
V2025 - Tangerine Dream - Rubycon
V2026 - Mike Oldfield - The Orchestral Tubular Bells
V2027 - Henry Cow/Slapp Happy - In Praise Of Learning
V2028 - Chili Charles - Quick Stop
V2029 - Clearlight Symphony - Clearlight Symphony
V2030 - Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club
V2031 - Steve Hillage - Fish Rising
V2032 - David Vorhaus - White Noise 2
V2033 - Kevin Coyne - Matching Head And Feet
V2034 - Robert Wyatt - Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard
V2035 - Wigwam - Nuclear Nightclub
V2036 - Pekka Pohjola - B The Magpipe
V2037 - Ivor Cutler - Velvet Donkey
V2038 - David Bedford - The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner
V2039 - Clearlight - Forever Blowing Bubbles
V2040 - Edgar Froese - Epsilon In Malaysian Pale
V2041 - Can - Landed
V2042 - Tom Newman - Live At The Argonaut
V2043 - Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn
V2044 - Tangerine Dream - Ricochet
V2045 - Mallard - Mallard
V2046 - Gong - Shamal
V2047 - Kevin Coyne - Heartburn
V2048 – U-Roy - Dread In A Babylon
V2049 - Boxer - Below The Belt
V2050 - Link Wray - Stuck In Gear
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 November 2013
I am inclined to agree with S Dinsdale; this is not without flaws. The sound in "shonky" in places and it lacks structure.
HAVING SAID THAT - it really took me back to a a special time, the birth of Virgin - the creativity, the craziness and the sheer audacity.
This is truly eclectic set and does reflects Virgins' attitude at the time. At times it is crazy and sublimely esoteric.
Hatfield and The North, Kevin Coyne, Henry Cow, Egg, Edgar Froese . . et al.
Of course it starts with the beginning - Mike Oldfield's extraordinary "Tubular Bells". Then you get Faust, Gong, Robert Wyatt.
The selection is erratic and the standard variable as one makes their way through this collection of diversity.
I really enjoyed hearing stuff that I'd not heard in years; David Bedford has several inclusions; slightly avant guard but these include some of Oldfields finest guitar work. Indeed "First Excursion" (Oldfield and Bedford), is a masterpiece in virtuosity, as Mikes holds some amazing notes, sustaining them for 10/20 seconds. On the subject of guitarists - Steve Hillage makes a couple of notable appearances, particularly his barnstorming version of George Harrison's "All Too Much"
To be honest, it is just so hard to review this objectively, there is so much going on.
It's not strange "Hippy Stuff" and "Hypnotic Brain Melt Music" - there are a few "commercial" bits and pieces like Robert Wyatt's interpretations of "I'm a Believer" and "Yesterday Man" and the strangely charming and folksy "Sad Sing" by Tom Newman.
I'm enjoying this but it is not easy listening. It does, however, capture a wonderful moment in time.
Actually - it might be an idea to listen to the samples first?
Yes, flawed and (perhaps), a little erratic, but, at times, compelling and absorbing! Perhaps for the over 40s??
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on 4 November 2013
Virgin's 40th anniversary celebrations continue apace with this, the first of several 3CD sets celebrating one of the finest back catalogues in music. For this writer, the era covered here was very special indeed. Never had such a fine array of left-field talent been gathered together in one place, and thanks to the unexpected success of Mike Oldfield's `Tubular Bells', Simon Draper's A&R wish list could be bankrolled, with some fantastic results.

All the major early Virgin players are here, with the inexplicable and inexcusable exception of Tangerine Dream, whose `Phaedra' was a huge early seller for the company. The three discs are housed in an appealing digipak, and each disc reproduces the classic colour Roger Dean label artwork. (If it were me, I'd have used the early variations of the label, but not THAT much care has gone into this project, unfortunately).

The booklet is largely disappointing; perfunctory notes, a few random sleeves thrown into the mix (including `Manor Live' which is totally incidental to the story and sold about 5 copies), a poor quality picture of Mike Oldfield in case anyone has forgotten what he looks like... would it have been too much to ask for mini-reproductions of say, the first 100 Virgin releases as covered by this compilation ? Or at least a properly annotated track list ? Yet again the famous Virgin proof-reading department cocks up, this time on the Hatfields track "Fitter Stoke Has A Bath" titled here as "Fitter Stroke Has A Bath". It is one of the mysteries of life how people who are paid to research and compile these things do so with a lot less love and care than those who would, given the chance, do it for free.

Gripes aside, it is hard to ignore the stunning collection of music on offer here, and the track selection is solid enough. Oldfield's opus inevitably kicks off proceedings, and then we're immersed in a tour of the great and good from Faust and Gong to Captain Beefheart, Kevin Coyne and Robert Wyatt. There are valuable contributions from more obscure talents like Fred Frith, Clearlight and Mallard, as well as the late lamented David Bedford representing the modern classical side of Virgin.
Amusing though Ivor Cutler undoubtedly is, the flow of the third disc is completely spoiled by the lengthy monologue `The Dirty Dinner'. Whoever sequenced this collection did not do a great job, sadly.

All in all, as a collection it just about hangs together, and most of the tracks have their individual merits. It should really have been titled 1973-76, as there is only one track from early 1977, one of Can's least essential works, which rounds off the collection in somewhat anti-climactic fashion. The obvious closer to this era would have been Hillage's `All Too Much' from late 1976. It seems like the 2 Can tracks were tacked on to the end as an afterthought, and the integrity of the collection suffers somewhat as a result.

Still, there is much to love here...I would have done a better job of compiling it myself, but it makes a nice addition to the collection and serves as a wonderful reminder of the peerless early days of Virgin and the delights to be found within their catalogue. At over 3 hours of music, it's a great value set, I just wish they'd put just a little more care and attention into it to make it really special, like the Virgin Records of old would have done.
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on 7 March 2014
Although the selection and variety is very good with some great memories stirred with some of the tracks, the accompanying booklet was very disappointing. Compared to Refugees, the Charisma label compilation or the Island, Vertigo and Harvest compilations, I think Virgin/Universal have miised a trick. So much info on the compilations above which have encouraged me to investigate long lost bands further and invest in more music. I cannot do this so easily from this CD as the information is completely lacking in detail. Shame!!
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on 31 December 2013
As the other reviewers indicate, one could quibble with the selections forever, etc. but it is just wonderful to see this release on the original Roger Dean label! It is a thing of joy. When Virgin originally announced their 40th anniversary only Oldfield and Tangerine Dream got a mention. Finally, they have acknowledged the pioneering groups on the label during their early period. Branson started dumping these bands in 76 when he saw his first punk; Chris Cutler provides an interesting account of Virgin's increasingly poor attitude to Henry Cow (and one would assume other stable mates)in his booklet in the 40th anniversary box set. Anyway, this compilation (despite its flaws) is very welcome. For me, the personal revelations are by Clear Light and Mallard.
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on 30 June 2016
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on 26 January 2014
Covers the first few years of Virgin records,album cuts and a few singles,a great mix of the familiar,over familiar and obscure...I understand Virgin's beginnings owe lots to Tubular Bells,but why a 15 minute chunk of the album ??? I think they should have put the single on instead,"Mike Oldfield's single" and its b side Froggie went a courtin,that to my knowldge has never appeared on a cd.
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on 11 February 2014
without Richard Branson no Virgin and without Virgin no incredible breakthrough in "pop" music. In the words of the Soft Machine:" Out-Bloody-Rageous"
Rudi Faneker
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on 18 February 2014
Since Tubular Bells Virgin Records is one of the best company of a great bands and single musicians. Buy It and make history
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