Monday, April 23, 2018

Various Artist - Mainstream Records US 1966-70

Size: 361 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

Between 1967 and 1970, New York’s Mainstream label, a respected imprint known principally for its high quality jazz and soundtrack catalogue, recorded and released over two dozen full-length rock albums. “All Kinds Of Highs: A Mainstream Pop-Psych Compendium 1966-70” collects the best moments from these records, along with selected highlights from Mainstream’s singles inventory of the same period.

It was still an era where there was no guarantee that even a significant hit single would grant an artist the luxury of a long-playing disc. Yet, in an assiduous move, company president and A&R chief Bob Shad single-handedly traversed the nation to assemble a roster of unknown rock bands, have them quickly record LPs in the styles of the moment, and then throw it all up at the proverbial ceiling, to see what would stick. 

At the time, and for some years after, Shad’s rock’n’roll splurge was viewed, somewhat cynically, as emblematic of the industry’s gross exploitation of the baby-booming psychedelic milieu. As popular music got more self-consciously cerebral and the Rolling Stone mindset took over, the rock album had become a sacred totem, an instrument of the “serious” artist. Which no doubt precluded any of the Mainstream acts getting taken seriously.

I always did, however. Back in the 80s, a Mainstream album, when you were lucky enough to spot one in the vinyl hostelries of London, was a fascinating curio. Intriguingly cryptic names such as the Bohemian Vendetta or Tangerine Zoo, emblazoned upon garish pop-art sleeves, stood out in the racks. My friend Tom (later in Th’ Faith Healers and Quickspace Supersport) and I vied with each other to “collect the set”, as it were, but truthfully, at the time, the Mainstream psychedelic albums seemed too few and far between, and I was frankly too broke. 

It wasn’t until I later moved to the US that I caught up on classics from the Tiffany Shade, Jelly Bean Bandits and Growing Concern and also started acquiring some of the numerous non-LP singles on Mainstream and its subsidiary Brent – many of which, by Fever Tree, Paraphernalia, the Country Gentlemen and suchlike, are true gems. It always struck me that Bob Shad was a kind of unwitting patron of pop-psychedelia, or at least a chronicler of American rock at a grass roots level. 

He had a knack for frequently choosing groups that had something a little out of the ordinary, whether it be in songwriting chops, instrumental abilities, or just a unique slant, that to revisionist ears is a most appealing aspect of the label’s rock legacy. Mainstream artists in this era touch equally on Anglophile pop, folk-rock, world music, country and vocal harmony, in often thrilling manner. 

It also occurred to me as I collected Mainstream releases that, while each album had merit, there were always tracks that stood out. Using the “Nuggets” precept, it made sense to gather all these strongest moments together. Thus we have “All Kinds Of Highs”, which focuses squarely and unapologetically on the pop-psych end of the spectrum, eschewing the hard rock or horn rock stylings of later Mainstream acts such as Last Nikle, Josefus etc. That can be someone else’s compilation – in the meantime, revel in the glorious, groovy miscellany assembled here.

In retrospect, the relentless outpouring of records in the mid-to-late 1960s is nothing short of astounding by today's standards. Groups were forming at lightning speed and constantly cutting singles and albums released by major record companies, as well as small independent labels. The music biz attitude of the time can very well be summed up as such: "Hey, let's throw this tune against the wall, and if it sticks, if it's a hit, then perfect! If it flops, so what? There's plenty more where this came from." Both Top 40 AM radio and the emerging underground FM stations were only too happy to play the records, and the rapid turnover of 'product' was downright exhilarating for the listener.

With the explosion of folk-rock, garage and psychedelia that followed the British invasion, one American indie label that attempted to capitalize on the many new bands appearing on the scene was the New York City-based Mainstream Records, previously responsible for putting out jazz albums. 

Mainstream signed groups ignored by major labels like Columbia, Capitol and RCA, or other independent outfits such as Elektra.

Future hard-rock guitarist Ted Nugent and his band, the Yardbirds-influenced Amboy Dukes, found themselves on Mainstream, and were rewarded with the hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind," which kicks off this new 2CD compilation. It's the best-known number on here, since the other groups on the label (The Fever Tree, The Fun + Games Commission, The Jelly Bean Bandits and The Superfine Dandelion among them) never achieved a similar level of commercial success. 

The competition during this period was intense, and talented Mainstream bands like these basically slipped through the cracks, only to be re-discovered by collectors years later. The variety and top-notch quality of the psychedelic pop, garage-raunch, and all-around fuzz-filled freakiness on this collection is, to use the era's lingo, a total trip!

Disc 1:
01. The Amboy Dukes - Journey to the Center of the Mind 3:16
02. The Orient Express - For a Moment 2:03
03. The Country Gentlemen - Saturday Night 1:55
04. Stone Circus - Mr. Grey 3:05
05. Ellie Pop - Caught in the Rain 2:33
06. The Tangerine Zoo - Nature's Children 3:49
07. Fever Tree - Girl, Oh Girl (Don't Push Me) 2:34
08. The Tiffany Shade - An Older Man 3:03
09. The Six Pents - Please Come Home 2:16
10. Bohemian Vendetta - Riddles & Fairytales (45 Edit) 2:40
11. The Underground - Get Him Out of Your Mind 2:40
12. The Art of Lovin' - You'll Walk Away 2:24
13. The Grammy Fones - Now He's Here 2:15
14. Jelly Bean Bandits - Generation 2:55
15. The Superfine Dandelion - Crazy Town (Move on Little Children) 2:24
16. The Orphans - Twenty Light Years Away 6:10
17. The Growing Concern - Edge of Time 4:30
18. The Fun and Games - Someone Must Have Lied 2:37
19. The Tangerine Zoo - Can't You See 3:49
20. The Wrongh Black Bag - I Don't Know Why 2:20
21. The Underground - Easy 2:47
22. The Tiffany Shade - One Good Reason 2:22
23. The Scarlet Letter - Timekeeper 3:13
24. The Art of Lovin' - You've Got the Power 2:57
25. Ellie Pop - Can't Be Love 2:34
26. Jelly Bean Bandits - Tapestries 2:24

Disc 2:
01. Fever Tree - I Can Beat Your Drum 2:01
02. The Tangerine Zoo - Trip to the Zoo (45 Edit) 2:44
03. Ellie Pop - Seven North Frederick 2:21
04. The Art of Lovin' - Good Times 2:28
05. The Tiffany Shade - A Quiet Revolution 2:03
06. The Scarlet Letter - Mary Maiden 2:57
07. Bohemian Vendetta - All Kinds of Highs 3:39
08. The Amboy Dukes - Baby Please Don't Go (45 Edit) 2:41
09. The Underground - Take Me Back 2:33
10. The Six Pents - Imitation Situation ("4/4-6/8 Time") 2:34
11. The Off-Set - You're a Drag 2:06
12. The Growing Concern - Sit Down I Think I Love You 2:24
13. Jelly Bean Bandits - Neon River 2:35
14. The Orient Express - A Little Star 2:23
15. The Tangerine Zoo - Another Morning 2:46
16. Stone Circus - Sara Wells 3:06
17. The Superfine Dandelion - Day and Night 2:47
18. The Underground - Satisfyin' Sunday 2:35
19. The Art of Lovin' - Paul's Circus 3:12
20. The Fun and Games - Today - Tomorrow 2:33
21. The Growing Concern - All I Really Want 2:20
22. Paraphernalia - Sunny Days (And Good Good Living) 2:37
23. The Tiffany Shade - Would You Take My Mind Out for a Walk 2:19
24. Maxx - 200 Years 2:42
25. The Six Pents - Tinkle Talk 2:19
26. Freeport - I Need Your Lovin' 2:44

Part 1: Mainstream Records
Part 2: Mainstream Records
Part 3: Mainstream Records
Part 1: Mainstream Records
Part 2: Mainstream Records
Part 3: Mainstream Records
Part 1: Mainstream Records
Part 2: Mainstream Records
Part 3: Mainstream Records