To celebrate 10 years of Fruits De Mer Records, they have released a triple vinyl set of songs that have appeared on the label, plus a 7” single featuring another two songs that were provided too late to make it onto the main set. In all, 30 songs with a running time of two hours and fifteen minutes in length. There are quite a few cover songs contained within this, and I must confess to only knowing a few of the artists involved, but overall this is an amazing release that has made me realize just how much I have been missing out on by not coming across this label before this. It starts with “Theme One”, but not the original by VDGG but a cover by Tor Peders (taken from his ‘Brev Fran Ederstorp’ album). Now, those of a certain age will remember the song not from the original, nor even from it being played on Radio One at the beginning and end of the day, but rather as being used by Tommy Vance on his Radio One Rock Show each week for the Friday Night Connection quiz. I hadn’t played it for a while, and while this is a very different version indeed, it contains all the power and anarchy of VDGG in their prime.
Other highlights that must be mentioned include Tír na nÓg, with “I Pick Up Birds At Funerals”. These guys have had a chequered career to say the least, but their first albums from the early Seventies are indispensable, and this progressive folk psych number shows that they have lost none of their immediacy and passion. White Sails need to be held up for covering Black Sabbath’s “Fluff”, the acoustic number from the mighty ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and certainly not a number that many would think of to pick. I am also incredibly enamored of Hills Have Riffs and “Down By The River”, as I’ve never heard anyone else captures the really early sound of Jethro Tull like this. Psychedelic bluesy whimsy, this is incredible. I was soon realizing that each and every song was important in its own way, introducing me to songs I hadn’t come across before, or covers that were taking songs I knew into different areas, often by bands I didn’t know even existed. While The Pretty Things are a known entity, I was actually more impressed by the likes of The Honey Pot and “Dr. Crippen’s Meeting Room” which is a psychedelic masterpiece. But, one that really made me smile is one of the songs that are on the single, namely “White Horses”. This was originally the theme music to a Sixties Yugoslav-German co-production about a teenage girl’s equine adventures, called ‘White Horses’, which was dubbed into English and screened on BBC One. In 2003 it was voted the greatest theme music of all time, but it never sounded quite like this.
Overall, this is an amazing album, one that has introduced me to so much great music. Now I have another label to investigate, and this one will be a delight.
9/10 – Kev Rowland