The Alan Bown (or the Alan Bown Set, as they began life) were always a part of the musical landscape during the second half of the 1960s, without ever enjoying substantial success. In singer Jess Roden, they boasted a blue-eyed soul vocalist to rank alongside Terry Reid, Steve Ellis, Winwood and Marriott. They were musically accomplished and embraced myriad musical styles, from beat and R&B to mod/soul, psychedelia and jazz.
Much of Alan Bown's quietly prolific output has been reissued on CD, from their early Mod outings on Pye (though Emergency 999 on Sequel is now deleted) to very late Sixties explorations into progressive rock, now available on Esoteric. However, Outward Bown must stand as their most accomplished work, inspired (presumably) by Sgt. Pepper in its vivid mix of psychedelic pop, gloriously catchy melodies, colourful lyrics and imaginative instrumentation. Back in 1968, Outward Bown was issued on a short-lived MGM offshoot Music Factory but was swiftly deleted, a fate which also befell a CD reissue on See For Miles some 30 years later.
Cherry Red's Grapefruit imprint has slowly built a reputation for quality craftsmenship within the broad church of British 60s psychedelia and freakbeat (witness last year's Poets and Mike Stuart Span retrospectives). But this is something else: a 29-track 2-CD compendium of the complete Alan Bown output for MGM/Music Factory. But what of the music? Well, it's of the highest calibre for any fan of late 60s Zombies/Beatles/Honeybus/Hollies/Beegees. Legend has it that Hendrix borrowed their "rock" interpretation of 'All Along The Watchtower'; equally impressive are the dainty, orchestrated pop of 'Toyland'; the lysergically inclined 'Story Book'; or the rock-soul of 'Love Is A Beautiful Thing'.
The sound quality is superb; the packaging excellent; really, there's nothing to criticise. Go buy!