Music

Various Artists: Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985 (take 2)

This is a thorough, satisfying, and surprisingly scholarly cross-section of British New Psych in the early '80s.


Various Artists

Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985

Label: Cherry Red
US Release Date: 2016-04-29
UK Release Date: 2016-04-29
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Psychedelia seems to rear its multicolored head in music once every couple of decades, doesn’t it? With acts like Temples populating the airwaves and electronic psych infiltrating the basement clubs, it’s a prime time to learn some history on the genre. Summer of Love documentaries and ‘60s books abound, and yet the cross-continental psych revival of the '80s has hardly been given the same treatment. Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985 makes a bold step towards changing that.

Another Splash of Colour is a thoughtfully compiled set of essentials and rarities from the British psychedelic revival of the early ‘80s. It offers a handful of previously-unissued, sun-drenched gems for the most obsessive psych fan alongside a carefully curated selection of memorable singles from the era. Like all the Cherry Red genre box sets, Another Splash of Colour is dedicated to a thorough and fascinating look at one era’s brief, glimmering zeitgeist.

The box features extensive liner notes from NME journalist Neil Taylor, providing context and deeper understanding to the tracks included. Everything about the Cherry Red genre sets belies care and precision, and Another Splash of Colour is no exception. The liner notes give a thorough but digestible history of the early '80s psych revival, from the dissolution of the second wave of the mods to the aesthetic differences between psychedelia and new romanticism, and even references to the parallel Paisley Underground movement taking place concurrently in California.

Another Splash of Colour is, in both name and face, an homage to and expansion upon the lone British psych compilation of the time, A Splash of Colour, which never got quite the attention it deserved due to poor timing and promotion. While A Splash of Colour was hastily put together to cash in on a short-lived genre explosion, though, Another Splash of Colour presents a full palette of artists and a vivid cross-section of the psychedelic club scene at the time.

Mainstays of the era are accounted for: Miles over Matter, The High Tide, and Mood Six are well represented both in this collection and in the original A Splash of Colour compilation. Atop that, Another Splash of Colour includes well-chosen selections from Nick Nicely, The Attractions, The Soft Boys, and many other, more obscure artists of the time. The overall impression of the track list is that John Reed, who compiled the box set, is a knowledgeable and passionate fan of this music. It’s done with care and precision.

The collection is geared more towards intermediate and above psych scholars, though: the inclusion of sci-if legend Michael Moorcock’s strange, occasionally corporeal but frequently fictional group The Deep Fix with the track “Brothel in Rosenstrasse” is certainly not for the faint of heart. Knox’ cover of the Syd Barrett track “Gigolo Aunt” is an odd nugget but a notably enjoyable addition: between British new psych and the Los Angeles-based Paisley Underground scene of the early ‘80s, it wouldn’t be difficult to do a single disc compilation purely out of Barrett and Barrett-era Floyd covers, but “Gigolo Aunt” blows most of them out of the water when it comes to boppable, listenable fun.

With three full discs and clocking in at a whopping 64 tracks, Another Splash of Colour is an undertaking in listening. Psych tropes run rampant in all these songs, even the best ones, and the liner notes provide much-appreciated context to elevate the listening experience and assist in deciphering what makes each group unique.

There's so much here, and it can serve as a crash course or a jumping off point for further study into the genre. Niche though it may be, anyone serious about popular music scholarship can benefit and learn from the tracks and treats included here: photographs and gig adverts of the time are included in amongst the liner notes. It’s a rich experience. Any sub-sub-genre of music would benefit from the same treatment.

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