The Cherry Red label is spot-on at packaging vintage U.K. rock, and this boxed set is no exception. This one focuses on broadly “progressive” bands stretching the span after Jimi Hendrix died and the Beatles broke up. You know the bigger acts – Yes, ELP, Uriah Heep – but there are hip mid-tier artists here, often mixing electric and acoustic guitars with impunity.
Atomic Rooster’s “Time Take My Life” has an urban feel and guitar jabs from Steve Bolton; Barclay James Harvest drops a dreamy pulse on “Medicine Man” using savage echo-fuzz licks from John Lees. Lindisfarne’s “Don’t Ask Me” shows what happens when northern English musicians play funk – it’s not R&B, but there’s an undeniable guitar groove. Al Stewart’s “Songs Out of Clay” is a rock waltz with elegant layers of acoustics and electrics. Hawkwind explores acidic space jams on “Brainstorm” via guitarist Dave Brock and a pre-Motörhead Lemmy on bass.
Guitar freaks already know Free’s “Wishing Well,” a supreme demonstration of Paul Kossoff’s Les Paul wizardry. “Blowin’ Free” is typically killer boogie from Wishbone Ash. These are just highlights from this superb four-CD set. For these British musicians of 1972, the future was wide-open.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.;