Friday, June 25, 2010


One of the most common questions we get while touring London’s rock heritage sites is what ‘new’ music we can recommend. Actually what people mean is what can we recommend that they might have missed first time round, rather than what can we recommend from today’s crop of rock hopefuls; ‘old’ music but ‘new to them’.

It’s only when you start discussing this that it becomes apparent how much people do actually miss getting into, and how much great and generally ageless stuff there actually is out there. I suspect that budget is always an issue for us all and there is only so much you can afford to buy from the huge amount offered.

On another level, we also get a heap of younger fans who weren’t ‘there’ first time round and want to catch up with a bit of rock history, or hear what today’s bands might have been influenced by.

So, responding to popular demand (!), future blogs will include ‘hidden nuggets’, being reviews of albums that perhaps people would enjoy discovering. Here goes the first couple:


A ‘prog-rock’ or ‘art-rock’ band who enjoyed a short-lived career from 1968-70, releasing two albums (Cressida and Asylum). For a brief period, they were regulars on the traditional London club circuit playing the Marquee, Blaises, the Speakeasy etc. They also did the legendary Hamburg Star Club. The original vinyl is on the hard-to-get and expensive Vertigo ‘swirl’ label but re-releases are available from The first album is the best, containing some really good playing and fine melodies from ‘classic’ prog-rock instruments including flute, organ, paino and Mellotron, all complementing guitars and drums/percussion. The vocals are in the pleasant-on-the-ear range, without being particularly distinguishing. It does sound a bit dated now but anyone liking Moody Blues of this period will love them!

Soft Machine

This is a band we regularly mention, especially on our morning ‘The Psychedelic and Summer of Love’ tour.

The city of Canterbury contributed much to the sound of these years and the ‘Softs’ were to the forefront of the scene with musicians like Kevin Ayres and Robert Wyatt, who were later to forge great solo careers (and Andy Summers was on the first album, following his stint with Zoot Money).

Avant garde, esoteric, jazz fusion, psychedelic, progressive rock; it’s difficult to describe the style. It was certainly ground-breaking at the time. And unique. Perhaps they can be best described by association; they were the ‘other band’ to Pink Floyd at the Roundhouse and Marquee UFO benefit concerts. You can never quite tell where a Soft’s track is taking you; it’s certainly somewhere no one else ventured, not even Floyd.

The music wont suit anyone who is looking for hard, driving rock, or metal, or soft melodic rock, or, well any common genre. The Softs had no copyists – at least not until Matching Mole. They were a musician’s band; even their improvisation seemed scored. Were they rock? Yes, but it was no surprise that their final incarnation said ‘goodbye’ with six nights at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

Which of their albums to get? Hmmm, difficult, especially with their being 9 studio albums, each with differing line-ups,and many, many live or retrospective releases. Their last studio album ’Land of Cockayne’ featuring Jack Bruce on base and no original members! Choose their first from 1968, 'Soft Machine'; 'Bundles' from 1975 (released by; or perhaps go for 'Out-Bloody-Rageous' (a compilation, 1967–1973) re-released by Sony, 2005.

Anyone got any other suggestions of hidden nuggets?

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