Various Artists - 2008 Cosmarama: Blow Your Cool Vol. 2

ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: Cosmarama: Blow Your Cool Vol. 2
LABEL: Psychic Circle
YEAR: 2008

LINEUP: Bands listed below.

TRACK LISTING: Tracks listed below

RATING: image


Subtitled '20 top prog/psych behemoths from the UK & Europe' how could I resist? I live for this kind of thing and compiled by none other than excavator of all things psychedelic, progressive and cool - Nick Saloman of the indie band The Bevis Frond.

While I've heard some of these bands prior to this comp, most are unfamiliar to me only to be seen listed over at the 'Happening 45' web site which I drool over all too frequently. From what I can gather, most if not all the tracks here are from the early very '70's.

It was from a time when psych and blues rock where beginning to mesh with the then developing progressive scene. It's a wild ride to be sure and instead of breezing through the disc focusing on its many highlights, we'll break it down one artifact at a time.

The Songs

Distant Jim - 'Cosmarama'
Title track from an English band who released a few singles in Europe, but never on their home turf. It's a storming tune with crunching guitar and many of the members went on to better known bands.

Carriage Company - 'In Your Room'
Sort of psych Blood, Sweat & Tears without the brass section. Again, the guitar work makes this one a keeper.

Kingdom - 'All I Need'
Unknown UK band and one of the better tracks here with echoey production and great vocals.

The Tower - In Your Life'
Dutch rockers who sound very British in the realm of Cressida, Fantasy and Spring. Good stuff that I keep coming back to.

Back Street Band - 'Daybreak'
Strong Led Zeppelin and Cream influences from these guys based in Liverpool. Plagiaristic to the max, but a fun listen.

Big Wheel - 'Old Songs New Songs'
I had heard of these guys before since they released several singles, some previously comped. Covering a Family tune, Big Wheel turn it into a glam stomper mixed with some Uriah Heep-like vocals.

Bismarck - 'Shotgun Express'
Starts off like Black Sabbath before moving into a weird, laid back almost country rock flavoured cut. Very odd to say the least, an Amsterdam band that released just two singles in their short life.

CWT - 'Widow Woman'
My least favourite tune here. I heard the band's LP years ago which was very brass heavy in the Chicago Transit Authority, Blood Sweat & Tears style although nowhere near as good. This is more of the same.

Silence - 'Devil Woman'
An unknown Dutch band that offers a bland rocker with little identity and very forgettable.

Ginger Ale - 'Get Off My Life Woman'
Working in the same style as CWT, only a little better. Obviously a band with relationship issues..

Pussy - 'Feline Woman'
Formed after the break-up of Jerusalem and produced by Ian Gillan, these guys only got around to one great single and disappeared. A missed opportunity by the label in my opinion.

Tenderfoot Kids - 'Man In Black'
Terrible moniker, average song.

Electric Food - 'I'll Try'
Replaced by John Lawton in Asterix which later morphed into Lucifer's Friend, lead vocalist George Monroe formed Electric Food releasing this single turning out a nice slice of early Teutonic rock.

Mr. Albert Show - 'Kings of Galaxy'
I own both Mr. Albert Show albums on CD and this is the off their first album, but still sounds terrific. The group was from Holland by the way - home of some of the best prog on the planet at one point.

The Petards - 'Free'
Nice stuff from this German band and apparently their last of several singles released in 1972. Oddly enough reminding me a little of the Paul Rodgers band Free.

Castle Farm - 'Hot Rod Queen'
The ghost of Mott The Hoople haunts this glammy gem. London based and Ian Hunter influenced vocals too.

The Pebbles - 'Half Past Dead'
Not quite sure what to make of this one although Apple Records tried to sign them at one point. They did make some records and were successful in Europe before splitting in 1975. The song reminds me of stuff like Blues Image and Sugarloaf were putting out at the time, sounding more American than Dutch.

Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Parade - 'Love Song'
They recorded one album and evolved into the progressive band Wind who released two good albums in their lifetime. Love the band name although the song is just O.k. and nothing to get too worked up about.

Chips - 'Earth'
Heads up pomp fans. Northern Ireland band that sounds very American in the Styx/Alpha Centauri style and man, if that isn't a Punky Meadows influenced strat solo, I don't know what is. According to the liner notes, 'Earth' was the A-side of their third single. I would love to hear the other two.

Richard St. Clair & Forum - 'Give Me Back'
A mixture of Family and solo Robert Wyatt with nice flute. This is the flip of a French issued single and a haunting tune at that.

In Summary

All in all, an outstanding release and a must have for connoisseurs of early '70's obscurities. Psychic Circle has a huge catalog of this type of thing and I've just ordered volume one of the 'Blow Your Cool' series. If it's anything like 'Cosmarama', I'm in for a treat.

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