That is, deliver a comprehensive, beautifully packaged three-disc extravaganza complete with extensively detailed booklet. Once again compiled by Mark Powell, behind both the Polydor and Harvest excursions, Cave of Clear Light shines the fiery torch on the label that’s been dismissed as a poor relation to the more dedicated exponents of the psychedelic and progressive sound. Unfairly so, one might add, as Pye/Dawn had an impressive roster of artists on the books, even if the vast majority never so much as tickled the public conscious. Obviously, that’s the style of output HFoS thrives on.
Disc 1 boils down the psychedelic and the folk into one easily consumable portion. The one dud aside (Neo Maya’s ‘UFO’), this starter notches up such classics as the sinister Status Quo number ‘Paradise Flats’, The Mooche’s ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’, Blonde on Blonde’s ‘All Day, All Night’ and, obviously, ‘Cave of Clear Light’ by The Bystanders.
Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ and the superior ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ inject the folk element along with the ethereal LSD vibe of Woody Kern (‘Tell You I’m Gone’) and the spectral majesty of Trader Horne’s ‘Velvet to Atone‘. Contributions by both Man and Fire help to push this first disc into essential territory, irrelevant of what follows.
Disc 2 sets its stall out early on, with ‘Tell You a Story’, another track from Fire, once again taken from their sole, but justifiably much sought after concept album The Magic Shoemaker. From then on in we’re treated to a mixture of heavy prog, acid-folk and, once again, The Status Quo.
Titus Groan heads the pack where it comes to weightier measures of prog, and the inclusion of acid-folk must-hears Comus, with ‘Song to Comus’ is more than welcome. Mungo Jerry provide a nine minute throbbing blues-explosion, with their bowel-loosening version of the standard ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’, but the highlight of this disc has to be Jackie McAuley’s baroque snapshot of 1971, ‘Cameraman: Wilson and Holmes’.
Demon Fuzz also make an appearance with their rendition of ‘I Put a Spell on You’, and Atomic Rooster close things with the excellent, Hammond-driven ‘Time Take My Life’.
Disc 3 is a progressive paradise, resplendent in flutes, extended solos and such rarities as Gravy Train and Jonesy. Even blue-eyed soul barker, Chris Farlowe, makes an appearance on ‘Can’t Find a Reason’, while pastoral folk bods Heron deliver ‘Yellow Roses’ from their self-titled debut.
The Status Quo are present once again with the excellent, infectiously bluesy ‘Gerdundula’, slipping straight out of the early 1970s, and the rest of this volume is taken up by equally strong acts as Icarus – with an ode to the Fantastic Four – Fruup and the always welcome Stray.
Cave of Clear Light is yet another superior compilation for lovers of the psychedelic and the progressive to sink their teeth into. So long as labels such as Esoteric keep putting stuff like this out, there’s no reason this sometimes under-tapped vein should ever run dry.
Head Full Of Snow
Track - Artist
1. Cave Of Clear Light - The Bystanders - 3:44
2. Season Of The Witch - Donovan - 4:56
3. Morning Dew - Episode Six - 2:55
4. Paradise Flat - Status Quo - 3:13
5. UFO - Neo Maya - 2:49
6. The Future Hides Its Face - Man - 5:28
7. Ride With Captain Max - Blonde On Blonde - 5:22
8. Yellow Cave Woman - Velvett Fogg - 6:58
9. Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan - 3:14
10.Tell You I'm Gone - Woody Kern - 4:10
11.Hot Smoke And Sassafrass - The Mooche - 3:12
12.All Day, All Night - Blonde On Blonde - 3:35
13.Mister Mind Detector - Status Quo - 4:04
14.Peace Of Mind - Pesky Gee! - 2:20
15.Confusions About A Goldfish - John Kongos - 4:14
16.It Is As It Must Be - Man - 8:30
17.Flies Like A Bird - Fire - 3:40
18.Velvet To Atone - Trader Horne - 2:25
Track - Artist
1. Tell You A Story - Fire - 5:43
2. Hall Of Bright Carvings - Titus Groan - 11:39
3. Hillary Dixon - Atlantic Bridge - 2:33
4. Song To Comus - Comus - 7:25
5. I Just Wanna Make Love To You - Mungo Jerry - 9:05
6. Cameraman: Wilson And Holmes - Jackie McAuley - 4:53
7. Road To Glory - Pluto - 4:25
8. Body To The Mind - Quiet World - 3:26
9. One Way Glass - Trifle - 4:22
10.Pharaoh's March - Mike Cooper - 7:16
11.I Put A Spell On You - Demon Fuzz - 3:54
12.Someone's Learning - Status Quo - 7:10
13.Time Take My Life - Atomic Rooster - 6:01
Track - Artist
1. 3D Mona Lisa - Paul Brett's Sage - 3:20
2. Billy The Kid - The Trio - 1:33
3. Gerdundula - Status Quo - 3:50
4. Hard Labour - Noir - 5:22
5. Yellow Roses - Heron - 4:11
6. Save Me - Atomic Rooster - 3:16
7. Fantastic Four - Icarus - 3:20
8. Man Of Renown - Writing On The Wall - 3:08
9. Staircase To The Day - Gravy Train - 7:33
10.Ricochet - Jonesy - 4:06
11.Can't Find A Reason - Chris Farlowe, Vincent Crane - 4:29
12.Decision - Fruupp - 6:25
13.Lord Offaly - David McWilliams - 6:34
14.Custom Angel Man - Paul Brett's Sage - 2:43
15.Flying - Quicksand - 4:23
16.Stand Up And Be Counted - Stray - 4:19
17.No Alternative - Jonesy - 8:14