Various Artists – Too Much Sun Will Burn – The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967: Volume 2

Various Artists – Too Much Sun Will Burn: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967, Volume 2

The 1960s were a rather bizarre time to live through. The war in Viet Nam dominated the headlines, but a growing awareness of impending ecological disaster was never far behind. Sit-ins and love-ins competed with student protests and Jesus Freaks for attention. Free love and sex and drug culture were under persistent attack from one’s parents and “the man”. It was a decade of contradictions where peace and war waged a constant, sometimes vicious, battle. Through it all there was a soundtrack, but only those enlightened enough were paying attention. Arm in arm with new modes of personal expression came new forms of music, informed and often influenced by the burgeoning psychedelic drug experience. If you were too young, too “straight” or simply too nerdy to participate in the extracurricular activities being enjoyed by the counterculture, there was still a way to expand your mind. You could enjoy it all vicariously through the music that ruled the charts, particularly in 1967 – the Summer of Love.

In 2016, Cherry Red’s psychedelic imprint Grapefruit Records released Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds, an anthology of the lysergically influenced sounds of 1967. This year, we have Too Much Sun Will Burn, the follow-up compilation of British chart hits, near misses and previously unreleased tracks. Included are everyone from the heavyweights (The Who, Pretty Things, The Move) to new on the scene artists (David Bowie, Elton John, Genesis) to the obscure (Turning Point, Lisa & Francesca, The Artwoods). Like the events of the year itself, some of these songs will stick with you forever, some are best forgotten, and others you simply missed.

Starting off with the song that lends its lyric to the set’s title, Traffic’s classic Paper Sun sets the mood. A perfect piece of ear candy featuring sitar and nonsense lyrics, this is quintessential psychedelia. Steve Winwood’s talent and genius are on full display from the first note, but none of it could have happened without the contributions of Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi. From the production to the performance, the template for what follows has been set. Many of the compilation’s best songs appear on the first disc. Elton John makes an appearance with Nina, from the only recently released Regimental Sgt. Zippo. His songwriting prowess is already evident and his youthful, impassioned voice tears through the song as easily as Caleb Quaye’s soaring guitar licks. Elsewhere, Peter Banks and Chris Squire help lift the Syn’s 14 Hour Technicolour Dream. Banks’ recognisable style is there already, but Squire’s revolutionary bass playing is still just out of reach.

Another standout is The Flower Pot Men’s Let’s Go to San Francisco (Parts 1 and 2). Definitely an instance of proto-prog, this over six-minute mini-epic flaunts both Beach Boy-styled harmonies and Mellotron. Catchy as hell and a big hit in the UK, it captures perfectly the vibe and trippiness of the West Coast music of the time.

One of the more fun surprises of this box is the involvement of new songwriter Eric Woolfson (later of the Alan Parsons Project) on several songs. The first to appear is Talk of the Devil by Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera (Project fans will recognise that name), where busy drums give the song an early Who vibe. Woolfson also shows up as producer of Alex Harvey’s Horizons, carried by flute and Indian percussion. The Alan Bown! offer an example of just how strong Burt Bacharach’s pop style was on even the psychedelic movement (particularly the string arrangement) with Technicolour Dream, but – trust me – Hal David could never have written such lyrics in his worst fever dream. Even Strawbs (featuring Sandy Denny) got in on the act. Their entry, Two Weeks Last Summer, would have been a simple, beautiful folk song if not for the phase effects. Fans of Dave Cousins will note that the song reappeared as the title track of his 1972 solo album. On Genesis’ She is Beautiful, Tony Banks presages his groundbreaking keyboard work, but Peter Gabriel’s vocals are hardly recognisable as the man who would sing on Trespass a short time later. While many of the musicians in this set would go on to achieve greatness, that talent was not yet apparent for everyone in question in these early recordings. For example, Marc Bolan had yet to discover his signature Bo Diddley-influenced rhythm on John’s Children’s Go-Go Girl.

Disc two begins with another proto-prog gem, Kaleidoscope’s Dive Into Yesterday. The changing moods and tempos sound like a more thoughtful version of The Who (a band that seems like the reference point for any number of lesser lights throughout this compilation). The Who themselves make an appearance with a John Entwistle tune, Silas Stingy, a tune about a miserly old Scrooge featuring a typically creepy Entwistle melody. The End’s Lady Under the Lamp is an unreleased pop psych gem. Future Gentle Giant members update Eddie Floyd’s soul song Don’t Make it So Hard (On Me Baby) as part of Simon Dupree & The Big Sound, updating the tune and making it their own with a Mellotron. Eric Woolfson makes another appearance as the writer of The Poets’ Wooden Spoon where once again frantic drumming hijacks the song. Procol Harum followed the massive success of A Whiter Shade of Pale with another Hammond-driven classic, Homburg. Head and shoulders above the competition, Gary Brooker’s phenomenal compositional skills coupled with Keith Reid’s absurdist lyrics stood apart from anything else on the radio at the time. A post-Winwood Spencer Davis Group has the sound right on Morning Sun, but without Winwood’s vocals, the tune falls short. Another entry in the not-quite-there-yet sweepstakes is My New Day and Age by the Mindbenders, featuring future 10cc member Eric Stewart on an early (and largely lacklustre) stab at the power trio. Jon Lord had not yet reached Hammond God status as part of the Artwoods’ What Shall I Do; however, what you can hear beneath the guitar onslaught is promising. Some songs, though, will remain in obscurity. I Can’t Sleep by the Quik and A Little Bit of Shangri-La by Our Plastic Dream are unimaginative and eminently forgettable. Others, like The Mirage’s Mrs. Busby and The Tremeloes’ Suddenly Winter never translated over to the States but are deserving of wider popularity, so it’s nice to see them get some recognition here.

By the time we get to disc three, the gems are fewer and farther between. David Bowie’s Silly Boy Blue is an early, ambitious tune about Tibetan Buddhism with a strong melody and arrangement. The Pretty Things’ Mr. Evasion is a great song with greater guitar work and a false ending that must have driven radio programmers crazy. The Zombies prove why the Odessey and Oracle album became a recognised classic as represented by Beechwood Park, with its sophisticated writing and impeccable performances. Other tunes were not nearly so well done. I’m In Love With an Ex Beauty Queen by Great Uncle Fred rips off the Yardbirds’ Over, Under…; not to be outdone, Tony Rivers & The Castaways dig into the Kinks playbook for Turn of the Century, and Focal Point does its best (worst?) Dylan impression on Never Never. Then there are those songs which simply have nothing to recommend them, as Small Faces’ Patterns and Svensk’s Getting Old so aptly point out. For every spark of the new and interesting (Big Jim Sullivan’s Indian raga LTTS) there is a pointless entry (The 23rd Turnoff’s Lovely Elisa Cope is Dead).

So, what made these songs psychedelic? Instrumentally, it was largely due to Eastern musical influences, such as sitar and tabla. Elsewhere it was adventurous arrangements, both musically and vocally. Production-wise the vibe was enhanced by phase shifting and backward tape effects. In almost all of these tracks, it was the spirit of daring, that anything outside of conventional pop strictures could and would be entertained. As this box set proves, not every experiment was a success. Still, without these attempts at something previously untried, there would have been no progressive rock just a short two years later, when King Crimson shredded the rule book with In the Court of the Crimson King. If you were lucky enough to survive the era intact and want to relive that incredible time without lysergic flashbacks, this set will do nicely. Not every trip is worthy of re-living, but most all of them are worthy of taking.

Disc One

01. Traffic – Paper Sun (4:14)
02. Tomorrow – Revolution (3:18)
03. Caleb – Baby Your Phrasing is Bad (3:17)
04. Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – Talk of the Devil (3:01)
05. Alex Harvey – Horizons (2:40)
06. The Troggs – Night of the Long Grass (3:04)
07. The Syn – 14 Hour Technicolour Dream (2:54)
08. Blossom Toes – Look at Me, I’m You (3:56)
09. Tintern Abbey – Snowman (4:02)
10. Elton John – Nina (3:51)
11. Strawbs feat. Sandy Denny – Two Weeks Last Summer (2:05)
12. The Alan Bown! – Technicolour Dream (2:52)
13. Picadilly Line – No One Else (2:42)
14. Eric Burden & The Animals – Good Times (3:03)
15. Crocheted Donut Ring – Two Little Ladies (3:02)
16. Genesis – She is Beautiful (3:47)
17. Incredible String Band – Painting Box (4:01)
18. Episode Six – Love-Hate-Revenge (2:54)
19. The Marmalade – There Ain’t No Use in Hanging On (2:01)
20. Scott Henderson – Saturday Night People (2:07)
21. Made In Sheffield – Amelia Jane (2:31)
22. The Lovin’ – All You’ve Got (2:29)
23. John’s Children – Go-Go Girl (2:08)
24. The Smoke – It Could Be Wonderful (2:18)
25. The Flower Pot Men – Let’s Go to San Francisco (6:16)

Time – 79:03

Disc Two
01. Kaleidoscope – Dive into Yesterday (4:46)
02. The Who – Silas Stingy (2:59)
03. The Move – Wave the Flag and Stop the Train (2:56)
04. The Koobas – Gypsy Fred (3:04)
05. Simon Dupree & The Big Sound – Don’t Make it So Hard (On Me Baby) (3:02)
06. The End – Lady Under the Lamp (2:35)
07. The Orange Bicycle – Hyacinth Threads (2:54)
08. The Poets – Wooden Spoon (2:28)
09. The Attack – Any More Than I Do (2:04)
10. The Mickey Finn – Garden of My Mind (2:30)
11. The Quik – I Can’t Sleep (2:18)
12. Paper Blitz Tissue – Boy Meets Girl (2:55)
13. The Mindbenders – My New Day and Age (3:12)
14. The Virgin Sleep – Love (2:36)
15. Procol Harum – Homburg (3:56)
16. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – The Intro and the Outro (3:03)
17. Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich – The Sun Goes Down (2:54)
18. The Accent – Red Sky at Night (3:13)
19. Our Plastic Dream – A Little Bit of Shangri-La (3:39)
20. Nirvana – Tiny Goddess (3:34)
21. Living Daylights – Up So High (2:16)
22. The Spencer Davis Group – Morning Sun (3:22)
23. The Tremeloes – Suddenly Winter (2:23)
24. Lisa & Francesca – Silver Man (2:40)
25. The Mirage – Mrs. Busby (2:30)
26. The 23rd Turnoff – Another Vincent Van Gogh (2:57)
27. The Artwoods – What Shall I Do (2:52)

Time – 79:38

Disc Three
01. The Hollies – King Midas in Reverse (3:06)
02. The Idle Race – Sitting in My Tree (1:52)
03. David Bowie – Silly Boy Blue (3:52)
04. The Pretty Things – Mr. Evasion (3:27)
05. The Easybeats – Heaven and Hell (2:42)
06. Dave Davies – Susannah’s Still Alive (2:21)
07. Small Faces – Patterns (2:04)
08. The Herd – I Can Fly (3:10)
09. The Bystanders – Royal Blue Summer Sunshine Day (3:12)
10. The Zombies – Beechwood Park (2:42)
11. The Creation – Nightmares (3:11)
12. The Tickle – Something Out of Place (3:27)
13. The Universals – Green Veined Orchid (2:54)
14. Svensk – Getting Old (2:07)
15. Great Uncle Fred – I’m in Love With an Ex Beauty Queen (2:48)
16. Andy Ellison – Arthur Green (3:41)
17. John Williams – My Ways are Set (2:32)
18. Tony Rivers & The Castaways – Turn of the Century (2:39)
19. Normie Rowe – Sunshine Secret (2:57)
20. Australian Playboys – Black Sheep R.I.P. (2:44)
21. Big Jim Sullivan – LTTS (4:00)
22. Lisa & Francesca – Turn Your Face Away (4:50)
23. The Action – Icarus (2:55)
24. Focal Point – Never Never (3:00)
25. The 23rd Turnoff – Lovely Elisa Cope is Dead (2:33)
26. Circle Plantagenet – Rebecca (100 Days) (2:07)
27. Peter Cook & Dudley Moore – Bedazzled (2:26)

Time – 79:19

Total Time – 238:00

Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 24th March 2023

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