Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Swinging London: The Accidental Genius of Saga Records 1968-1970
Here's a review of the Saga Accidental Genius Compilation featuring a few of my Saga records heros !
I will do a rip of the CD in a few days so pop back.
Review by Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
In the late 1960s and early '70s, the British budget label Saga recorded numerous albums designed to cash in on U.K. pop/rock-psychedelic trends. The LPs were quickie exploitation jobs, but as is often the case with such productions, some reasonably genuine stuff couldn't help sneaking through and finding status among serious '60s collectors decades later. This quite unusual compilation gathers 25 tracks that were scattered across numerous Saga releases, the common denominator being that all of them were plugged into British mod rock and psychedelia to some degree. It almost goes without saying that none of these songs were hits, and that very few of them are known even to veteran British '60s collectors, though some might be familiar with the Five Day Week Straw People, the Magic Mixture, and the Blackbirds (the last actually a German group whose material Saga managed to issue for the U.K. market). A few recognizable musicians do pop up here and there, even if the culprits most likely wouldn't mind having these relics buried deep within their résumés, including Mungo Jerry's Ray Dorset (here part of Good Earth), future Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg (as part of the Dave Peace Quartet), and original Fleetwood Mac bassist Bob Brunning (as part of Five's Company). As you also might expect, the actual music's not nearly as interesting as it is rare, since much of it's either heavily derivative and/or obviously trying to latch on to fashionable Swinging London-type grooves and the lighter side of psychedelia. Approached with the right level of expectations, however, that doesn't mean there aren't some fun or at least amusing moments along the way, if you're a fan of those genres and have at least a little irreverent humor about the styles' excesses and naïveté. With one exception, you wouldn't say that anything here is a lost gem, but a good number of the tracks are fairly groovy in different and sometimes off-the-wall ways. Those cuts would include the Blackbirds' downright creepy "She," with its horror movie organ and Dracula-like vocals; the Dave Moses Group's cool, Latin-tinged, organ-based go-go lounge instrumental, "Quite Fast"; Linda & Noel's quite accomplished slice of toy town psych pop, "Mr. Bantam's Fair"; New World's strange heavy psych adaptation of "Scheherezade"; Shake 26's hard-charging instrumental "Underground Set," which bisects mod rock and heavy psychedelia; Five Day Week Straw People's ridiculously echo-smothered "Sunday Morning" (not the Velvet Underground song!); and Magical Mixture's dreamy "Moon Beams," perhaps the one cut on the CD that can hold its own as a legitimate first-rate piece of U.K. psychedelic buried treasure. Others are just OK, or generic or even subpar, though sometimes in a manner that lovers of kitsch might appreciate. Stefan Granados' lengthy liner notes dig up more information about these obscure budget releases than anyone would have thought possible.
I got this CD yesterday and there is so many tracks I would have picked that don't get a mention on here...good to have Saga stuff on a CD though and it has quite a few tracks that I don't have on record yet.
Just fished out the Katch 22 lp and found a swinging london postcard inside which I had forgotten about here is a few cool saga records together.