This is the second disc of Grapefruit’s hugely interesting compilation of 49 songs from the most creative and progressive era in British music.
Disc 2 Track 1 Egyptian Tomb by Mighty Baby. When Mighty Baby played on the same Bill as Richard And Linda Thompson at The Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970, members of the band introduced the duo to Sufism. This is a beautiful lilting rock song with harmonies that Teenage Fan Club would be proud of.
Disc 2 Track 2 Banquet by Audience. This group recorded three albums for Charisma with sleeve design by Hipgnosis (who designed seminal album covers for Pink Floyd) and arrangements by Robert Kirby (a friend of Nick Drake’s who arranged his first two albums).
Disc 2 Track 3 To Play Your Little Game by Cressida. Their first gig, in1969, after changing their name from Charge was at The Star Club in Hamburg on a Bill with East Of Eden and Colosseum. The Star Club is famous because it is one of the clubs that The Beatles played in before their recording career started.
Disc 2 Track 4 Parachute by Pretty Things. After recording the first rock opera, “S.F. Sorrow”, Pretty Things recorded an album which was heavily influenced by Side Two of “Abbey Road”. Neither of these albums sold well although they were regarded as masterpieces at the time and still sound great.
Disc 2 Track 5 Crystallised Petard by Rustic Hinge. If anyone ever wondered what would emerge from a band who were heavily influenced by Captain Beefheart and Stockhausen and used to have Arthur Brown as their lead singer, here’s the result. Progressive music at its most tuneless.
Disc 2 Track 6 Vivaldi by Curved Air. The album “Air Conditioning” was the first picture disc album released in the U.K. Darryl Way was the violinist and his seven minute virtuoso playing on “Vivaldi” was widely admired at the time. It’s certainly not lacking in brevity.
Disc 2 Track 7 World Of Ice by Sweet Slag. This band were named after a North Asian plant (sometimes referred to as “sweet flag”) which was commonly used as a psychotropic drug. They were told by the record company that one of the reasons for their lack of success was their name, so they shortened it to Slag. Mick Wright, the leader of the band, described their music as “stock-rock” because of the band’s love of Stockhausen.
Disc 2 Track 8 Mocking Bird by Barclay James Harvest. One of the first signings to EMI’s underground label, Harvest, BJH have released 25 albums and 23 compilation albums. This song was orchestrated by Robert John Godfrey who went on to form The Enid who have had 35 different members during the 44 years of their existence, during which time they released 20 studio albums, 11 live albums and 10 compilation albums. The mellotron formed the basis of BJH’s sound and was played by Stuart (“Woolly”) Wolstenholme who was heavily influenced by Love, Vanilla Fudge and Mahler. It seems that the rock/classical divide was minimised during this era of inventive and experimental musical progression. Thank goodness for The Moody Blues.
Disc 2 Track 9 The Prisoner by Comus. Roger Wootton and Glenn Goring started out by playing acoustic versions of Velvet Underground tracks at folk clubs in Beckenham. Their (successful) audition with the Dawn label involved them playing “Venus In Furs” at a furious pace and climaxed with Roger Wootton cutting himself and splattering blood over the audience. This may have obviated the need to self-harm as a result of enduring the entire song. Lindsay Cooper played bassoon with Comus for a short while and is one of the few females to appear on this disc.
Disc 2 Track 10 Home (Reconstruction) by Nirvana. When Kurt Cobain named his band Nirvana, he was taken to court by this British band of the same name. They had had a hit with “Rainbow Chaser” and played this on French TV, whilst Salvador Dali sprayed black paint over them. Still widely regarded, their subsequent music doesn’t really live up to the possibilities of the single. In my opinion. The following producers/arrangers worked with Nirvana at some point: Tony Visconti (later to work with David Bowie); Chris Blackwell (Bob Marley); Jimmy Miller (The Rolling Stones); Chris Thomas (The Beatles); Brian Humphries (Pink Floyd).
Disc 2 Track 11 Death May Be Your Santa Claus by Second Hand. The title track from a 36 minute art house film written and directed by Frankie Dymon which is possibly the U.K.‘a only Black Power film. Not especially melodic.
Disc 2 Track 12 The Prisoner (Eight By Ten) by Spring. Before becoming Dire Strait’s drummer, Pick Withers was a member of Spring, possibly the only band to have three mellotron players. Disc And Music Echo reviewed their album by describing it as “Amazingly boring music”.
Disc 2 Track 13 Don Alfonso by The Coxhill-Bedford Duo. Lol Coxhill (“he played real good for free”) and David Bedford were members of Kevin Ayers’ backing band, The Whole World and they recorded this ridiculous song which Mike Oldfield (also in The Whole World) would record with David Bedford four years later.
Disc 2 Track 14 Grande Piano by Stackridge. The opening and closing act in the first Glastonbury festival, Stackridge were heavily influenced by The Beatles. Their first John Perl session included a version of “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, their third album was produced by George Martin, they later covered “Hold Me Tight@ and when they reformed in the Nineties, they recorded a song called “Something About The Beatles”. This owes a lot to “You Never Give Me Your Money”.
Disc 2 Track 15 Saving It Up For So Long by Samurai. Dave Lawson joined members of The Web to make one album under the name Samurai. He later went on to join the band Greenslade and has subsequently become a well regarded composer of TV and film soundtracks including “Mississippi Burning” and “The Paradise Club”. Even more impressively, he wrote the string arrangement for “Cloudbusting” by Kate Bush.
Disc 2 Track 16 No. 2 Psychological Decontamination Unit by Blonde On Blonde. The brilliant sleevenotes by David Wells describe this as “a dust turning sound village incorporating backward tapes and bloodcurdling screams”.
Disc 2 Track 17 Me And My Kite by Fuchsia. Progressive folk doesn’t get more progressive or folky than this.