Sometimes, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality, but with Sanctuary, “complete collection”-type releases are usually crammed way beyond the “complete”, and never without a reason.
In this case, most of the fans would’ve been MORE than happy to see the band’s sole ’68 album, well maybe with an addition of the singles-only sides, all here of course, but this double-CD story also “tells” a tiny little bonus, in the shape of a coupla unreleased studio cuts, an album’s worth of non-album/singles tunes from the BBC archives, as well as the post-Skip Heavy Jelly and Griffin singles and NONE of it sounds like it could’ve been left out.
Though they’ve never been considered a part of the first class British psychedelia, Skip Bifferty’s legacy proves that they’re actually an essential part of it, but still not getting enough media exposure, thanks to Don Arden’s (miss)management. Sometimes, it feels like all the defining Britsike elements are gathered in one place, echoing the sounds of an imaginary “attack of the spooky, art family, move-ing through the traffic”.
It’s pretty hard to point out the highlights, since almost every track has it’s own special “something”, making it a favourite at the moment of listening, be it the post-mod, pop artistry about the Davies-like character named Jeremy Carabine, the “creation of tomorrow” in the (previously unreleased) Round And Round, the early “traffic lights” of Inside Secret and the opening Money Man, with it’s chamber pop bridge, or the quirky popsike sounds of the closing track Clearway 51 with the “stoned” Nicky Hopkins-like piano, as well as Gas Board Underdog and the “kink-sized” tune called When She Comes To Stay.
Though I’m sure this should’ve been enough for any late ’60s Britpop fan, there’s sooooo much more that just got to be mentioned, like the two ballads called Come Around, which “comes around” almost like a-bit-heavier-than- usual Zombie-heaven and the dramatic Follow The Path Of The Stars, also covered by Cilla Black, whose version I haven’t heard but it sure sounds perfect alongside her It’s For You.
Time Clock, has a Moby Grape-flavoured opening before making another “kinky move”, Planting Bad Seeds is something like a Stoned we-love-you arrangement of some ’67 Who tune, Yours For At Least 24 combines an infectiously groovy bass line with some west-coastish harmonies and there’s even an almost Boetcher-like piece of sunshiny harmony pop called Orange Lace.
Of the singles-inly sides, there’s the freakbeat of the debut On Love, backed with some more west-coast harmonies over the Beatley psych touch of Cover Girl, Happy Land, an orchestrated piece that could’ve been another perfect girly cover for maybe Sandy Shaw and, of course, Man In Black, yet another move-r, produced by Ronnie Lane, while Steve Marriott’s role remains unclear.
All of this and we’re still on disc 1 !?!? Most of the disc 2 comprises of the mentioned BBC sessions, having enough (at the time) unreleased material for another album, just as great. Tunes like The Hobbit, Aged Aged Man, Higher Than The Clouds, The Lion & The Unicorn or I Don’t Understand It are all Britsike classics that never were, waiting to be discovered.
Like the BBC’s announcer puts it, “here’s one of the more unusual groups of the current (’68) scene”, and we’re hoping that this re-release will make their name at least a bit more usual.
[Released by Sanctuary 2003]