Recently it has been diminishing returns from psych pop compilations. They either veer too much towards fluffy pre-psych pop or feature bands whose droney guitars and grand standing organ solos are much prog than anything else. Which is why I was so knocked out by Book A Trip from the Capitol Records archive which came out a couple of years ago. It was just loaded with wonderful poppy gems with enough psych trappings to keep me onside.
And now we have Volume Two courtesy of the man behind Now Sounds, renaissance fella Steve Stanley.
In many ways this is an even better trip than Volume One. From start to finish it is simply teeming with fantastic tunes.
Granted some of the songs may be a little more familiar to hardcore psych fans especially if you have invested in some of the other Now Sounds releases, but the overall standard is exceptionally high.
It is a real pleasure to hear the original version of the Smoke’s October Country as performed here by Raw Edge (this take landed up on the Smoke album). If, like me you have only ever heard muffled bootleg versions this will be a revelation. There is also a take of the British baroque pop classic When Diana Paints a Picture by Robbie Curtice, which quality wise is a leap on from the version on the Fading Yellow compilation of many years back.
Other highlights? Well These Vizitors For Mary’s Sake sounds like a garagey version of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and features some heavenly female vocals. Just as good is another Brit Ian Whitcomb’s Groovy Day, which has Swinging London film soundtrack written all over it. There’s also another track by the legendary Sidewalk Skipper Band, who provided several of the highlights of volume one and the excellent Masquerade by Jesse Lee Kincaid, a man whose other big claim to fame is penning one of the best 60s songs you have (possibly) never heard.
So overall Book A Trip 2 is a pretty essential purchase if you like a bit of sunny psych pop that is. Whether there’s enough in the Capitol vaults to create a volume three (it is coming in 2014) to match this remains to be seen, but good luck to Steve for giving it a go.