Off the Beaten Tracks: The Joy of Samplers By Alan Ashworth June 29, 2020
FOR the hard-up music lover in the late Sixties and early Seventies, budget-priced sampler albums were heaven-sent. For just a few bob you could travel through a record label’s roster listening to the cream of its artists. The aim of course was to make you buy the full-price LPs at getting on for two quid from which the songs were taken. However this would often end in disappointment when you found you had the best track already.
Some samplers were actually classics in themselves, so it’s on with the crushed-velvet loon pants and RAF-surplus greatcoat for a deep wallow in nostalgia.
I’ll start with my favourite label of all time, Island. Its first sampler, in 1969, was You Can All Join In, named after the Traffic song. Retailing at a mere 14s 6d (73p), this was seriously good value. Even better, I was lucky enough to find a copy nestled in the second-hand racks at the Electron in Nelson for a mere 7s 6d (37p). I played it to death.
First of the 12 tracks is A Song for Jeffrey, an alternative mix of the track from Jethro Tull’s album This Was. Next is Sunshine Help Me, from It’s All About Spooky Tooth, followed by Free’s I’m a Mover, from Tons of Sobs. The Stephen Stills song What’s That Sound comes from the LP Supernatural Fairy Tales, by Art, and then a cover of Traffic’s Pearly Queen from Tramline’s album Moves of Vegetable Centuries. Traffic themselves close Side One with the title track.
Meet on the Ledge from Fairport Convention’s What We Did on Our Holidays kicks off Side Two in rousing style and then Nirvana (British band, nothing to do with Kurt Cobain) perform Rainbow Chaser from All of Us. Next, John Martyn with Dusty from The Tumbler, Clouds with I’ll Go Girl from Scrapbook, the Spencer Davis Group with Somebody Help Me from The Best of . . . and to conclude, Wynder K Frog with Gasoline Alley from Out of the Frying Pan.
Its successor, Nice Enough To Eat, came later that same year and was even better. Fairport get things going with Cajun Woman, from Unhalfbricking, a strange choice given that Island could have gone for the magical Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Mott the Hoople’s eponymous debut album provides a terrific second track with At the Crossroads. Better By You, Better Than Me is from the Tooth’s second album Spooky Two, We Used To Know from Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Woman from the LP Free and to close Side One the epic Heavy Jelly single I Keep Singing That Same Old Song.
Side Two begins with Sing Me A Song That I Know by Blodwyn Pig from Ahead Rings Out followed by the lovely Forty Thousand Headmen from The Best of Traffic. Nick Drake makes his bow with Time Has Told Me from Five Leaves Left, then comes the King Crimson tour de force 21st Century Schizoid Man from In the Court of the Crimson King. Gungamai, by Quintessence, is from In Blissful Company and Dr Strangely Strange wrap things up with Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal from Kip of the Serenes. Wow. Fifty-five minutes for less than three quarters of a quid – what amazing value.
futureshock: Here's wishing everyone persistent health! Times are getting more optimistic! Activism is UP, and fear of getting involved in important issues, is dropping faster than the Vegas odds on Trump being elected again. Cheers!
Jun 7, 2020 23:10:01 GMT
maddogfagin: Thanks futureshock - hope you're ok likewise
Jun 8, 2020 15:01:16 GMT
stormsongs: Hi. Newbie, first time here as I have a question I can't get an answer to......I have a vivid memory of buying Lifes a Long Song in 71 and it had a gatefold sleeve....but I can't find any evidence of that or a copy with that sleeve...
Jun 12, 2020 14:25:44 GMT
maddogfagin: Welcome to the JT Forum stormsongs. Not seen a UK Life is a long song gatefold sleeve but there's no doubting they may have been some overseas releases issued this way.
Jun 13, 2020 6:14:41 GMT
futureshock: So, IF you are musical yourself, what are you doing with the CoronaCoda lockdown experience and maybe extra personal time available to find or create more music, or explore instrument playing? How has dealing with musicians changed? Gigs? Spinoff ideas?
Jun 14, 2020 23:01:49 GMT
maddogfagin: Listening to a lot of concert recordings via CD and finding some great music on youtube which I've never heard before. My days of playing guitar are behind me these days due to my damn fingers not wanting to work properly.
Jun 15, 2020 6:37:05 GMT
steelmonkey: Would you like to hear a perfectly constructed, note,rhythm,lyrical and atmosphere piece of Tull perfection? Yes? Try 'Saboteur' on 'Under Wraps'. Flawless.
Jun 22, 2020 21:05:43 GMT
maddogfagin: Under Wraps is an often maligned album by a minority but to the majority it stands amongst the finest of their eighties output. A great album.
Jun 28, 2020 6:43:28 GMT
steelmonkey: Under Wraps is sui generis. Strong everything. Something(s) about it amaze and astound with each listen.
Jun 28, 2020 19:30:42 GMT
steelmonkey: Double work shifts in surging hospital to allow 2 week vacation soon...miss my friends in the Tull treehouse but back soon. Breaks at work have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Jul 8, 2020 3:29:26 GMT
piscesguy: It looks like someone else has taken my moniker piscesguy and added the name jack prentiss to it. That's okay but I cannot locate an earlier post I had left now. Does anyone know how to resolve this? thank you
Jul 9, 2020 19:09:58 GMT
maddogfagin: Please see my PM to you.
Jul 10, 2020 6:41:59 GMT
steelmonkey: I prefer Scorpios, Leos, Taurases( Tauri?), Cancers and Capricorns but Pisces on the bubble of all right.
Jul 10, 2020 20:52:34 GMT
maddogfagin: So what's wrong with us Aquarians then. I'm gonna write to your President and complain
Jul 13, 2020 13:26:20 GMT
steelmonkey: I go on binges of long forgotten ( Jefferson Airplane, CSNY, Humble Pie), Overlooked releases ( Zappa, Prince, PIL) and just plain musical vitamins ( Traveling Wilburys, Pink Floyd) and then remember life is short and I should revert to all Tull all day.
Jul 19, 2020 22:29:08 GMT