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Customer Review

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underground????, 30 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: Spirit Of Joy: Tales From The Polydor Underground 1967-1974 (Audio CD)
Hot on the heels of "Strange Pleasures" (the second 3 CD Decca/Deram box set of late 60's/early 70's underground sounds) Universal Music has again let Esoteric Records boss Mark Powell loose in its vaults. After issuing similar box sets of Vertigo material and the aforementioned Decca/Derams, Mark (teamed again with maestro Paschal Byrne at the mixing desk and the highly creative Phil Smee in the design room) has produced another excellent offering. As with the aforementioned releases,the packaging is first rate. The 3 cds come in their own mini fake aged LP sleeves accompanied by an informative 48 page booklet with a section per artiste and plenty of rare photos/original album covers. In his introduction, Powell also gives a history of the label and how it came to acquire the MGM Verve catalogue, Giorgio Gomelsky's Marmalade label and its links with Track and Reaction which allow this box set a far wider selection of material than would have applied to the main Polydor imprint alone.

Polydor was not however a label I associated with the "underground". After all it was, at heart, a major German classical label and its pop/rock roster included mega selling bands such as Cream (on Robert Stigwood's Reaction imprint)and the Who (on the Who management's Track label) both of which feature strongly here. This set also boasts top 10 singles by Thunderclap Newman, Julie Driscoll and Arthur Brown - so hardly qualification as an underground label. However the inclusion of material by Ladbroke Grove's Pink Fairies, unknowns like the Web and Second Hand plus obscure singles by Van Der Graaf Generator (slightly manic) and Jethro Tull go a long way to establishing real underground credentials. As a German Label Polydor also had a fair sprinkling of European bands: Golden Earring, Focus, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Supersister and Aphrodite's Child. Although euro bands tended to enjoy limited credibility here in the UK back in the day, the selections here are all worthy inclusions showing highly skilled musicianship and being very light on dodgy english vocals.

All in all, fewer unearthed obscure gems than its predecessors and whilst the selections will inevitably not please everybody (eg I could ask why no Blossom Toes or other Marmalade label bands which would have boosted the underground feel) this is another highly enjoyable, well conceived and executed package. Keep them coming Mark Powell!
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Location: Sheffield, UK

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