These days psychedelia is very much a badge of honour for any band with a couple of Pink Floyd albums and an overactive effects pedal.
It was not always the way, though. Back in the early 8os, punk’s year zero approach meant that anything that smacked of the late 60s and flower power was about as welcome as music hall. This in spite of the fact that many of punk’s main protagonists, like Captain Sensible, John Lydon and Charlie Harper, to name but three, were in fact serious psych heads.
Fortunatel, some brave souls gave the dual fingered salute to the prevailing trends and created music that captured the spirit of late 60s lysergic pop. And we should be glad they did too, for without the psych revival it is unlikely that the Marillion-helmed prog renaissance a year or so later would have got any column inches from Sounds or anywhere else.
Since the mid 80s, psychedelia has become very much part of the musical landscape celebrated and revived by bands as diverse as The Stone Roses and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. But its second flowering from the early 80s is now being saluted by Cherry Red with triple CD set Another Splash of Colour.
The beautifully designed and well conceived set – it comes with an extended essay about new psych – is based around a WEA compilation from 1982 called A Splash Of Colour, which rounded up signature tunes from early 80s psych pioneers. That album is a little hit and miss, but it did gift us Miles Over Matter’s toytown classic Park My Car and the dreamy Dancing In My Mind by short-lived scenesters The High Tide, both of which make their debut for the first time on CD here.
Another Splash Of Colour fleshes out the original album with a treasure trove of obscure singles from between 1981–1985 that could be labelled psych. There are Mod bands like The Purple Hearts’ Hazy Darkness, garage punk the brilliant In Your Eyes from Playn Jayn, Beatles obsessives like Scarlet Party and their chart hit 101 Dam-Nations, and harmony drenched power pop like Kimberley Rew’s Stomping All Over the World.
The movement’s most obvious legacy, however, wasn’t the bands from the WEA comp or the Mods, but rather some very English psychedelic eccentrics who went on to create some wonderfully trippy music as the decade progressed. Robyn Hitchcock donates the eery, and rather groovy, It’s A Mystic Trip, while Julian Cope pops up with Sunspots, the wigged out first single from his bizarre Fried album. And then there’s both sides of the legendary Nick Nicely 45 – Hilly Fields and 49 Cigars debut – which do Strawberry Fields Forever and Tomorrow Never Knows almost as well as The Fabs.
There’s a whiff of prog too, in the King Crimson-esque time changes of Endless River by The Brainiac 5, the slow burning droney intro of The Icicle Works’ Nirvana and the Blue Öyster Cult-ish guitar that chimes throughout The Von Trapp Family’s stunning No Reflexes.
Overall, Another Splash Of Colour is a glorious snapshot of a much more innocent era. If you have ever fallen in love with 60s legends like Traffic, Tomorrow and The 13th Floor Elevators, or more recent psychsters like The Church, Sun Dial or even current garagey faves the Night Beats, you’ll find plenty to love here.