Taking Some Time On: Underground Sounds of 1970
(4 cd boxed set, Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red Records)
This is an ‘Underground’ Aladdin’s Cave whose location has long been known and the contents appropriated over the years to have already been spread far and wide. I could comment on those few less brightly known gems collected here, but what such an assemblage immediately prompts is an inventory of the familiar – or in most cases, the obvious. Glaringly so: my familiar, obvious, glaring favs to be precise.
There are out there more esoteric and intentionally obscure collections available from this ‘heavy’ period – 1970 here – but this is the western canon. As a primer for those new to the era and genre, the music selection and accompanying booklet provide a reasonably broad education about the time. Those my age will listen to hear a personal past in varying degrees of clarity – for example seeing Curved Air at the Ipswich Arts Centre in 1970, and much more recently acquiring an original copy of their picture disc Air Conditioning, the first of its kind; vaguely recalling hearing the Pretty Things at Weeley – or read and nod knowingly (perhaps reaching over to the record shelves) at mentions of samplers of the time like You Can All Join In and Nice Enough to Eat.
There’s also the game my generation can play called I saw her/him/them at… so from Disc 1 (and I’ll confine myself to this first cd of the four – musician/s, followed by where seen):
Barclay James Harvest – with orchestra at Weeley Festival; without at Ipswich Civic College
Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green and Friends Tour, Exeter (2010)
Van Der Graaf Generator – Felixstowe; Weeley Festival
Lindisfarne – everywhere
Jethro Tull – sat next to Ian Anderson at the Stokenchurch Health Centre (1976/77)
Edgar Broughton Band – Weeley Festival, and I still have the cassette tape recording of Out Demons Out: my chants the loudest
The booklet provides brief rather than expansive accounts of all the artists collected – spot on – and it is alphabetically organised so begins with Affinity, their singular eponymous album making my Top 50 of all time as well as being a precious vinyl in my collection – and the selected track is one of my absolute favourites Three Sisters with Lynton Naiff’s driving Hammond B3 organ, horns and the legendary vocal of Linda Hoyle.
Affinity is grouped with others in the booklet as ‘lesser known acts who failed to make a wider impression’ which is probably fair as a generalisation, though for me Pete Brown & Piblokto! was a star band. Yes, I’m nit-picking. Quatermass admittedly only had the one big hit Black Sheep of the Family which is their track on Disc 3.
When set against the luminaries who are here – Atomic Rooster, Barclay James Harvest, Bloodwyn Pig, Caravan, Curved Air, Family, Gentle Giant, Pretty Things, Al Stewart et al –
the debate is really about the umbrella tag of ‘underground’: Barclay James Harvest; Lindisfarne; Al Stewart? This is where the punch-up would take place, though the booklet’s introduction acknowledges the often blurred demarcations between ‘underground’ / ‘progressive’, and if you get bogged down in this (excusing my three gentle queries) you’re clearly not aware of the fights that should instead be taken these days.
To be honest, how do you hone a 4-cd collection to fully embrace the underground music of 1970? Eschewing the rhetorical question, it’s best to simply enjoy the entertaining selection that is here, and if you need to shake a stick at it, make sure it has already broken away naturally from a branch: although ‘underground’ can be, according to the booklet, equated with ‘a more cynical tone’ of the time (post-Woodstock etc), there’s still plenty of implicit peace and love.
• A NEW 4 CD RE-MASTERED CLAMSHELL VARIOUS ARTISTS BOXED SET CELEBRATING THE FINEST MUSICAL SOUNDS OF THE
SO-CALLED BRITISH “UNDERGROUND” & PROGRESSIVE ROCK MUSIC OF 1970
• FIVE HOURS OF MUSIC FEATURING TRACKS BY ATOMIC ROOSTER, KEVIN AYERS, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, BLODWYN PIG, EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND, CARAVAN, MICHAEL CHAPMAN, CURVED AIR, DEEP PURPLE, EGG, EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, FAMILY, FLEETWOOD MAC, GENTLE GIANT, HAWKWIND, HIGH TIDE, JETHRO TULL, LINDISFARNE, McDONALD & GILES, THE MOVE, PATTO, PRETTY THINGS, PROCOL HARUM, QUATERMASS, RARE BIRD, STATUS QUO, AL STEWART, TRAFFIC, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, WISHBONE ASH, YES & MANY MORE
• INCLUDES AN ILLUSTRATED BOOKLET WITH ESSAY BY MARK POWELL
Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the next release in their series of compilations celebrating the so-called “underground” rock music – “Taking Some Time On – Underground Sounds of 1970”, is a 4 CD clamshell boxed set which gathers together over five hours of music from 1970, the first year of a new decade that would see Progressive music in all its forms become a dominating force with the album-buying public.
The innocence of psychedelia and the optimism expressed by such vast expressions of the Hippy ideal as the Woodstock Festival in New York State and the Hyde Park Free Festivals of 1969 in London were shattered by the violence of the Altamont Festival in California at the end of the year. As 1970 dawned, a more cynical tone began to appear in the counter-culture which was also reflected in some of the music by “Progressive” artists as some music got heavier or more anarchic. Jazz, blues, hard rock, folk and classical music influences melded together to form a diversity of music among so-called Underground artists, championed by “underground” figures of the day such as John Peel on his BBC Radio One show Top Gear.
These artists retained a common audience who anticipated their albums eagerly, resulting in the “progressive” imprints of major record labels such as EMI’s Harvest, Decca’s Deram and Philips Records’ Vertigo imprints and the independent Island Records enjoying healthy sales with some artists enjoying success in the UK singles charts.
Universities and Colleges were regular venues on burgeoning live music circuit in the UK for these artists, most of whom earned loyal followings through regular concert performances both in Britain and in Europe. 1970 was also a year of major rock festivals in Britain, all of whom featured “Progressive” album focussed artists. Free concerts in London’s Hyde Park and events such as Plumpton Festival, The Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music and the infamous Isle of Wight Festival of 1970 (gate-crashed by underground agitators protesting against the entrance fee being charged by the organisers) all showcased some of the best music of the time.
“Taking Some Time On – Underground Sounds of 1970” is a lovingly compiled collection of music from this momentous year, featuring artists such as ATOMIC ROOSTER, KEVIN AYERS, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, BLODWYN PIG, EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND, CARAVAN, CURVED AIR, DEEP PURPLE, EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, FAMILY, FLEETWOOD MAC, GENTLE GIANT, HAWKWIND, JETHRO TULL, LINDISFARNE, McDONALD & GILES, THE MOVE, PRETTY THINGS, PROCOL HARUM, RARE BIRD, STATUS QUO, AL STEWART, TRAFFIC, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, WISHBONE ASH & YES. This compilation also features lesser-known acts who failed to make a wider known impression, but produced excellent work of a wide breadth such as AFFINITY, PETE BROWN & PIBLOKTO!, CLEAR BLUE SKY, MICHAEL CHAPMAN, CRESSIDA, BRIAN DAVISON’S EVERY WHICH WAY, EGG, GRACIOUS, HIGH TIDE, LOCOMOTIVE, LOVE SCULPTURE, PATTO, QUATERMASS, STRAY and T2. Feed your head with the fabulously diverse underground sounds of 1970.
1. TAKING SOME TIME ON – Barclay James Harvest
2. THE GREEN MANALISHI (WITH THE TWO PRONG CROWN) – Fleetwood Mac
3. IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I’D DO IT ALL OVER YOU – Caravan
4. BLACK NIGHT – Deep Purple
5. REFUGEES (SINGLE VERSION) –Van Der Graaf Generator
6. LADY ELEANOR – Lindisfarne
7. WINTER – Atomic Rooster
8. HURRY ON SUNDOWN – Hawkwind
9. THE WITCH’S PROMISE – Jethro Tull
10. NOTHING AT ALL – Gentle Giant
11. SEE MY WAY – Blodwyn Pig
12. SMALL FRUIT SONG – Al Stewart
13. NO MORE WHITE HORSES – T2
14. THE SONG OF MCGUILLICUDIE THE PUSILLANIMOUS (OR DON’T WORRY JAMES, YOUR SOCKS ARE HANGING IN THE COAL CELLAR WITH THOMAS) – Egg
15. APACHE DROPOUT – Edgar Broughton Band
16. SITTIN’ BACK EASY – Patto
1. SINGING A SONG IN THE MORNING – Kevin Ayers
2. EMPTY PAGES – Traffic
3. ALAN IN THE RIVER WITH FLOWERS – Lindisfarne
4. SYMPATHY (SINGLE VERSION) – Rare Bird
5. GERDUNDULA (SINGLE VERSION) – Status Quo
6. RAIN – Locomotive
7. CAN’T BE LONG NOW / FRANCOISE/ FOR RICHARD / WARLOCK – Caravan
8. AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS – Stray
9. A SONG FOR ME – Family
10. GRASS – Pretty Things
11. WHALING STORIES – Procol Harum
12. FUNNY WAYS – Gentle Giant
13. PHOENIX – Wishbone Ash
14. NO OPPORTUNITY NECESSARY, NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED – Yes
1. BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY – Quatermass
2. IN THE LAND OF THE FEW – Love Sculpture
3. JIG-A-JIG – East Of Eden
4. THINGS MAY COME AND THINGS MAY GO, BUT THE ART SCHOOL DANCE GOES ON FOREVER – Pete Brown & Piblokto!
5. TOMORROW’S PEOPLE – THE CHILDREN OF TODAY – McDonald & Giles
6. LUCKY MAN – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
7. MIRROR OF ILLUSION – Hawkwind
8. MY HEAVEN – Clear Blue Sky
9. ALL IN TIME – Brian Davison’s Every Which Way
10. DOWN, DOWN – Cressida
11. THE SUN WILL NEVER SHINE – Barclay James Harvest
12. LUNATIC’S LAMENT – Kevin Ayers & The Whole World
13. THREE SISTERS – Affinity
14. MOMMA’S REWARD (KEEP THEM FREAK’S A ROLLIN’) – Edgar Broughton Band
15. WHY? (HOW – NOW) – Love Sculpture
1. BLANKMAN CRIES AGAIN – High Tide
2. ALL IN YOUR MIND – Stray
3. SOULFUL LADY – Michael Chapman
4. SITUATIONS – Curved Air
5. HEAVEN – Gracious
6. GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS – Family
7. OCTOBER 26 – Pretty Things
8. LOVE LIKE A MAN – Ten Years After
9. ELECTRIC LOS ANGELES SUNSET – Al Stewart
10. WHAT? – The Move
11. THOUSANDS ON A RAFT – Pete Brown & Piblokto!
12. ASTRAL TRAVELLER – Yes