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Various Artists

Blow Your Cool

20 Prog/Psych Assaults from the UK & Europe

(Psychic Circle; US: 9 Oct 2007; UK: 1 Oct 2007)

An Invitation to Cry

When the double-LP behemoth Nuggets first landed into the public consciousness in 1972, it was quite literally a shock to the system. Collecting lost psychedelic songs from 1965-68, it proved that with the dozens upon dozens of bands that tried to capitalize on the music of the ‘60s counterculture, there were some that had some fantastic ideas, and the box set itself proved that one need not have major hits in order to push some product: just a unified, cohesive idea that ties the songs together, whether it be strictly historical or based on a well-thought-out concept. The style of the original Nuggets has been imitated too many times to count.


Flash-forward to 2007. With box sets like Children of Nuggets and Nuggets from Nuggets populating the marketplace, one has to wonder if there’s any good songs left in the Big Vault of 60s Psych-Rock. As Blow Your Cool: 20 Prog/Psych Assaults from the UK & Europe proves, there’s not. For being a 20-track collection of previously unreleased songs from 1969-1974, Blow Your Cool sounds remarkably bland. Things get off on the wrong foot with the generic and unimaginative prog opener “To Live” by Paradise Hammer, and then the lowlights just keep on coming. The Rattles’ “Devil’s on the Loose” rides a tired Stones riff that tries to be distinct with peppering of keyboards, yet the whole thing just feels contrived, a sentiment that is shared with tracks by Ferris Wheel, Barry Freeman & Strange Power, Cosmic Dealer, and a band simply called Freedom (with a song that’s titled, appropriately enough, “Freedom”). Even with that said, however, there are some genuinely wonderful songs to be had here. The Triton’s “Drifter” rides a thundering guitar riff that’s actually aided by its layers of reverb, Egg’s “You Are All Princes” sounds like the entirety of Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” recast as an Andy Warhol showtune, and Swegas’ “What’ya Gonna Do” sounds like a Motown soul song pouring out of a lava lamp. Yet best of all is “Blow Your Cool” by Triangle: building on a simple, seductive keyboard riff, the song builds up to having jazz horn arrangements, bluesy guitar solos, and paranoid smoking lyrics all in just about three minutes. It’s songs like these that are certainly worth digging up. The rest, however, will not be missed in the drug-filled haze of memories lost. For this, we can be grateful.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry, and many others. He is a current member of The Recording Academy and resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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