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Various Artists: Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain from 1980 to 1985

Album Notes

Among the many scenes that came out of the post-punk explosion in the U.K. was a healthy psychedelic one, full of revivalists, sonic explorers, weirdoes, and even a fair amount of ex-punks. RPM's three-disc box set Another Splash of Colour expands on the 1982 compilation album of similar name (A Splash of Colour) that rounded up some of the leading lights of the neo-psych movement, including Mood Six, the Barracudas, and the Times. While A Splash of Colour was an essential sampler, plenty of bands could have been included but were not, and this set fills in the blanks. Collecting artists who are well-known like the Soft Boys, Julian Cope, the Icicle Works, and the Prisoners as well as some who were seemingly invented just for the occasion (Deep Freeze Mice, Future Daze, the Onlookers), the collection casts a wide net. Electronic inventiveness from Nick Nicely, whose "Hilly Fields" is a highlight, sits comfortably next to the glanging mod revival of the Purple Hearts and Squire. The jumped-up power pop of Kimberley Rew's insanely catchy "Stomping All Over the World" makes perfect sense paired with Cleaners from Venus' bedroom pop mini-epic "Wivenhoe Bells II" and the bracing psych-punk of the Blue Orchids' "Work." The contingent from Creation Records (Biff Bang Pow!, the Jasmine Minks, Revolving Paint Dream) fits in perfectly with jangle pop bands like the JetSet and the Dentists. The bands featured on the original album turn in some of the strongest entries, especially the High Tide, with their melancholy pop nugget "Just Like a Dream," and Mood Six, whose two songs are so strong it's no surprise they got signed to a major label soon after the album's release. Most of the groups on the original comp were poppier, with the psychedelic influence working as a complementary ingredient, not the main one. The addition of a bunch of groups that were just as trippy and odd as the original psychedelic artists -- if not sometimes more so -- shows another element of the scene that may not be as well remembered. The biggest name of the collected eccentrics is Robyn Hitchcock, and his contribution, "It's a Mystic Trip," is suitably bonkers. The other scattered wackos, like Magic Mushroom Band and Firmament and the Elements, add some levity and fun to the otherwise pretty serious proceedings. Indeed, part of the reason these bands succeeded at reviving a time and a sound was that they were reverent and sincere. They took the things that worked from the psychedelic era, added '80s gloominess, and came up with something very British and very much worth exploring. Another Splash of Colour is a perfect jumping-off point that covers most of the important players -- sadly, no Dukes of Stratosphear tracks were available -- and does a great job capturing and defining an almost forgotten scene with the care it deserves. ~ Tim Sendra



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