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The Wilde Flowers: The Wilde Flowers

The Canterbury tales.

If life was lived in reverse, the Wilde Flowers would surely be the great supergroup of the Canterbury scene. Their line-up comprised core future members of Soft Machine, Caravan and Kevin Ayers And The Whole Wide World, and their repertoire prefigured an entire sub-genre of progressive rock: the English-lyrical side that combined jazz, blues, whimsy and wit to produce strangely dreamy and simultaneously biting music.

The 34 tracks here range from 1962’s Wilde Flower demos (there’s a cover of, bizarrely, That’s Alright Mama) to 2003’s Zobe re-recordings (Robert Wyatt and Brian Hopper doing a moody The Pieman Cometh).

Some songs resurface in future incarnations (Slow Walkin’ Talk), and some don’t. And while the quality is largely, well, demo-ish, it’s effective, being intimate, unforced and at times extraordinary. It’s unlikely these tracks will replace the artists’ later work in anyone’s affections, but this collection is more than a fan curio.