Saturday, October 16, 2021

VA - Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal, An Island Anthology 1967-1972 [2005] + Strange Pleasures, Further Sounds of the Decca Underground [2008] (6 x CD's)



VA - Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal, An Island Anthology 1967-1972 [2005] + Strange Pleasures, Further Sounds of the Decca Underground [2008] (6 x CD's)

VA - Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal, An Island Anthology 1967-1972 [2005]

Most casual onlookers don't remember it today, but there was a time when Island Records was well known as the home of numerous varieties of music beyond classic reggae and the 1980s work of U2. In fact, from 1967 until the early/mid-'70s, Island was one of the major outlets for progressive and art rock bands in England. The label didn't have much of a presence in the United States until the second half of the 1970s, and many of the groups that it had under contract only released their work through Island in England, with major acts such as Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer having separate contractual relationships with Warner/Reprise and Atlantic in the United States. But Island's U.K. roster of prog rock acts was impressive, as you're reminded by just about every minute of this three-CD, 48-track box, which encompasses everything from the widely familiar (Traffic's "Paper Sun" and "Feelin' Alright," Jethro Tull's "A Song for Jeffrey" and "A New Day Yesterday") to culty weirdness (Wynder K. Frog's "Harpsichord Shuffle") and genuinely experimental acts such as White Noise, and strange B-sides (King Crimson's "Groon"). The obscurities flow fast and thick throughout, including the Mick Moody guitar showcase "Pearly Queen" as recorded by Tramline (many years before Moody would find fame and fortune with Whitesnake), and Quintessence's "Giants" and "Notting Hill Gate," the latter a classic British hippie anthem. The emphasis is on singles where they were relevant, although notable album cuts are also present -- everything from one-off singles like King Crimson's "Catfood" (by a version of the band that scarcely existed for a month) to "A Sailor's Life" by Fairport Convention, clocking in at 11 minutes plus, which reappeared in their repertory for decades. The range of sounds is also wonderfully diverse, from the progressive folk axis of John Martyn/Fairport/Sandy Denny/Nick Drake/Incredible String Band/Amazing Blondel through arty rockers like ELP and McDonald & Giles, to the bluesy hard rock focus of Tramline and Free, as well as acts like Tull that fall in between them, and horn bands like Alan Bown that fall outside of any of them. The sound is excellent throughout, the annotation is extremely thorough, and the packaging is well designed and easy to use (and this reviewer loves the fact that the box and sleeves re-create the color scheme of the old Island logo). What's more, the cost has been held to the midline range (equal to roughly 12 dollars a disc on the American side of the Atlantic), making this nearly four-hour-long release not only attractive to longtime enthusiasts of this sort of music, but an ideal vehicle for neophyte listeners to experiment with and discover the genre and the history, and the wealth of lesser-known and downright obscure bands represented here alongside the famous. (Amazon)

VA - Strange Pleasures, Further Sounds of the Decca Underground [2008]

This three CD box set, the follow-up to the hugely successful Island Records Prog box set, Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal. Strange Pleasures - Further Sounds of the Decca Underground contains 49 tracks from the golden age of British Prog and features early recordings by Genesis, Egg, Caravan, Khan, Moody Blues, Ten Years After and Thin Lizzy, all recorded for the Decca and Deram labels between 1966 and 1975. Compiled with exhaustive sleeve notes and annotation by Mark Powell. Design by Phil Smee at Waldo's Design and Dream Emporium.

This is a true Gem. One of the best compilations released from the progressive mid sixties to early seventies British Rock era. Rock music during this time was full of innovation. New styles and approaches to writing and producing music was peaking. This compilation is a must for music collectors. Rare gems not easily found. Very well remastered. This compilation is important not only for its historical value but it is also an excellent and accurate indication of what was going on musically in the British rock world at that time. (Amazon)




Track list



01 Art Supernatural Fairy Tales 3:38

02 Traffic Paper Sun 4:15

03 Wynder K Frog Harpsichord Shuffle 3:58

04 Nirvana Rainbow Chaser 2:37

05 Tramline Pearly Queen 3:45

06 Spooky Tooth Sunshine Help Me 3:06

07 John Martyn Dusty 3:03

08 Fairport Convention Meet on the Ledge 2:53

9 Jethro Tull A Song for Jeffrey 3:21

10 Clouds The Carpenter 3:29

11 Heavy Jelly I Keep Singing That Same Old Song 8:20

12 White Noise Black Mass: (Electric Storm in Hell) 7:23

13 Free Over the Green Hills (Part 1) 0:49

14 Free Worry 3:28

15 Quintessence Giants 4:38

16 Amazing Blondel Queen of Scots 1:43

17 Traffic Feelin' Alright? 4:22

18 Blodwyn Pig Sing Me a Song That I Know So Well 3:04

19 Fairport Convention A Sailor's Life 11:10


01 Jethro Tull A New Day Yesterday 4:10

02 Traffic No Time to Live 5:23

03 Nick Drake Three Hours 6:14

04 Spooky Tooth Lost in My Dream 5:08

05 John & Beverley Martin Stormbringer 4:18

06 Dr. Strangely Strange Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal 4:27

07 Quintessence Notting Hill Gate 2:55

08 Fotheringay Banks of the Nile 8:08

09 Cat Stevens Wild World 3:21

10 Incredible String Band The Painted Chariot 3:41

11 King Crimson Cat Food 4:54

12 King Crimson Groon 3:32

13 Sandy Denny The North Star Grassman and the Ravens 3:30

14 McDonald & Giles; Suite in C: Including Turnham Green Here I Am and Others 11:16

15 Amazing Blondel The Siege of Yaddlethorpe 2:32


01 Emerson, Lake & Palmer Knife Edge 5:08

02 Mott the Hoople Thunderbuck Ram 4:51

03 Nick Drake Northern Sky 3:46

04 Alan Bown Set Thru the Night 4:17

05 Robin Williamson Dark Dance 1:06

06 Spooky Tooth I Am the Walrus 6:26

07 John Martyn Glistening Glyndebourne 6:33

08 Free Fire and Water 3:59

09 Blodwyn Pig See My Way 5:07

10 Vinegar Joe See the World (Through My Eyes) 6:20

11 Cat Stevens Peace Train 4:13

12 Clouds Watercolour Days 5:30

13 Traffic Low Spark of High Heeled Boys 11:44

14 Heads, Hands and Feet Song for Suzie 7:12



01 Genesis In the Beginning 4:05

02 Al Stewart Turn Into Earth 2:54

03 Accent Red Sky at Night 3:14

04 Tintern Abbey Vacuum Cleaner 3:06

05 Virgin Sleep Secret 2:22

06 Moody Blues Twilight Time (Evening) 3:19

07 Bill Fay Some Good Advice 2:22

08 23rd Turn Off Michaelangelo 2:25

09 Ten Years After The Sounds 4:29

10 Curiosity Shoppe Baby I Need You 3:29

11 World of Oz Like a Tear 3:11

12 Touch Down at Circe's Place 4:02

13 End Under the Rainbow 3:49

14 Deviants Opening 0:10

15 Deviants I'm Coming Home 5:55

16 East of Eden Northern Hemisphere 5:06

17 Sunforest Magician in the Mountain 4:14

18 Davy Graham Jenra 3:10

19 Moody Blues The Best Way to Travel 3:14

20 Egg I Will Be Absorbed 5:10

21 Ten Years After Bad Scene 3:31


01 Caravan If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You 3:08

02 Moody Blues Gypsy 3:36

03 Bill Fay Garden Song 3:12

04 Denny Gerrard Atmosphere 7:08

05 Galliard Skillet 3:45

06 Satisfaction Sharing 6:17

07 T2 J.L.T. 5:52

08 Keef Hartley Band The Time Is Near 10:11

09 Clark-Hutchinson First Reminder 3:02

10 Ashkan Practically Never Happens 6:00

11 Stud Harpo's Head 7:18

12 Egg Contrasong 4:24

13 East of Eden Marcus Junior 5:11

14 Caravan Winter Wine 7:36


01 Thin Lizzy Things Ain't Working Out Down at the Farm 4:32

02 Ten Years After I'm Coming On 3:47

03 Khan Space Shanty 9:01

04 Zakarrias Cosmic Bride 6:09

05 Bill Fay Time of the Last Persecution 3:53

06 Caravan Waterloo Lily 6:48

07 Pete Brown Ballad of the Queen of Outer Space 8:35

08 Darryl Way's Wolf Steal the World 4:19

09 Parlour Band Spring's Sweet Comfort 5:04

10 Chicken Shack Crying Won't Help You Now 5:11

11 Thin Lizzy Sarah (version 1) 2:52

12 Principal Edwards Magic Theatre Triplets 2:27

13 Curved Air Marie Antoinette 6:54

14 Michael Chapman New York Ladies 9:28




  1. Replies
    1. Hi Mowtown Fats.
      These comps get a lot of airplay in my house. They are always sitting on the side to be heard again.. and again. Enjoy.


  2. In 1970 I bought a compilation that was announced in the NME New Musical Express at the time and which decisively broadened my musical taste - away from the charts towards the folk-rock sounds of the day - called "Bumpers" - an Island Records promo collection. At that time, the English pound was very low and by importing it to Germany by post, I was able to afford a lot of good music compared to the prices here, especially as this music was not available here at all and was only very rarely presented on the radio.
    Of course, this double album has not existed for a long time, it has been borrowed and played so often that the vinyl has not survived this intensive use. All the more I am very pleased about this suggestion and say thanks a lot, very much appreciated!

    1. Thanks WOODY, There are a number of comps that I really enjoy and this is one of them.
      I will be posting "Bumpers" in the near future.


  3. Replies
    1. Hi Professor,
      Enjoy all that comes your way and enjoy the music.