It’s Pop-O-Rama 9!!!

The Grapefruit Records special holiday edition

Grapefruit Records logo (Image: Cherry Red Records)

Life is but a bowl of Grapefruit, as for this column, I do a synopsis on some of the excellent box sets the Cherry Red subsidiary label has released in 2022!

Each of these box sets have wonderfully annotated booklets filled with photos and a wealth of knowledge about each artist, which will help you win bar bets (😉). There are some tracks on each which arguably don’t belong (e.g. what is “United We Stand” by Brotherhood of Man doing on a Bubblerock compilation?), but even when that happens the tunes are really good.

Honestly, the quality level on each box is consistently high, and you’ll find out about so many artists with whom you were previously unfamiliar; I know I did! Don’t be without any of these.

 


 

Various Artists Bubblerock Is Here To Stay Volume Two: The British Pop Explosion 1970-73, Grapefruit Records 2022

Artist: Various Artists

Album: Bubblerock Is Here To Stay, Volume Two: The British Pop Explosion 1970-73

Label: Grapefruit Records

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5 stars) 


Let’s clear up one thing first: bubblerock is not the same thing as bubblegum. It certainly “could” be bubblegum, but essentially it’s upbeat, bouncy pop music, much of which made a fine mark on the UK pop charts circa 50 years ago. Bubblerock Is Here To Stay, Volume Two offers a fine cross section of styles, which traverse bubblegum (“Alexander Graham Bell” by Sweet), glam (the surprising “Radancer” by Marmalade), reggae (“Big Six” by Judge Dread, a track which never had a chance in the U.S. charts because of the liberal use of a word that often goes before “willow”), pure pop (“Soley Soley” by Middle of The Road), and a whole bunch of tracks with CSN-like harmonies. Make no mistake, there are tons of obscurities on this collection as well, as it’s a fine mixture of big names, one hit wonders and no hit wonders. Perhaps the best tracks are Summer Wine’s amazing cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “She’s Still A Mystery”, and the grandiloquent “Magical Spiel” by Barry Ryan with The Candy Choir (the latter’s “Lucky Jim” could have definitely fit on this collection as well).

 

 


 

Various Artists Miles Out To Sea: The Roots Of British Power Pop 1969-1975, Grapefruit Records 2022

Artist: Various Artists 

Album: Miles Out To Sea: The Roots of British Power Pop 1969-1975

Label: Grapefruit Records

★★★★★ (4.5/5 stars) 


If you’re a fan of power pop, you’ve probably been involved in the endless debates of 1) how to define power pop 2) whether or not a particular song is power pop, and 3) when did power pop actually begin? We know that Pete Townshend coined the term in 1967 to describe The Who’s music, but it seems most fans don’t feel the genre began until sometime in the 1970s.  Grapefruit agrees, and they’ve put together this magnificent box set of 74 UK tunes from 1969-1975, which they call “The Roots of British Power Pop”. There are tons of amazing po7p melodies herein, and loads of harmonies, with tracks by bands like Octopus, Unicorn, Byzantium, Fresh Air, Barclay James Harvest and Help Yourself which fall a bit into the prog pop category, but share a certain sensibility with what would ultimately define power pop. Disc two begins with perhaps the most amazing trilogy ever to grace a compilation: “Know One Knows” by Badfinger, “Chinatown” by The Move, and “Girl On The Train” by Liverpool Echo!  There’s also perhaps the best song ever recorded with a title of more than ten words: “Little Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Honey-Child Won’t You Just Allow Me One More Chance Please”, by P.C. Kent, from an album which begs for a legitimate CD reissue! No, don’t expect sounds like Shoes, The Records, The Rubinoos, etc…but be prepared for an avalanche of ear candy from which you’ll be able to glean the influences!

 

 


 

Various Artists Heroes And Villains: The Sound Of Los Angeles 1965-68, Grapefruit Records 2022

Artist: Various Artists

Album: Heroes and Villains: The Sound of Los Angeles 1965-68

Label: Grapefruit Records

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5 stars) 


The first question hardcore collectors will have is, “how many of the tracks on this box were also on the Rhino Records Where The Action Is collection, and the answer is: very few, if any, making Heroes And Villains an excellent companion piece. To be sure, several of the same artists are represented, but with completely different tracks. Heroes and Villains an excellent cross-section of the styles and subcultures of the late ‘60s LA scene, and while most of its tunes fall into the pop category, there’s plenty of rock by bands like The Velvet Illusions, The Misunderstood, The Rogues, Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, Spirit, etc…There are scads of cool obscurities here, including “Say What You Mean” by Glad (featuring Timothy B. Schmitt, who would eventually join The Eagles), “John Works Hard” by Laughing Wind, the trippy “Isha” by Chris and Craig, and “Fire Engine Sky” by Michael Blodgett, who would become better known as Lance Rocke from the film Beyond The Valley of The Dolls! Add in magnificent tunes by Sagittarius, The Beach Boys, Ruthann Friedman’s original version of The Association hit, “Windy”, The Association themselves, and Strawberry Alarm Clock, among many others, and this collection is a stone cold winner!

 

 


 

Various Artists Climb Aboard My Roundabout: The British Toytown Pop Sound 1967-1974, Grapefruit Records 2022

Artist: Various Artists 

Album: Climb Aboard My Roundabout: The British Toytown Pop Sound 1967-1974

Label: Grapefruit Records

★★★★★ (5/5 stars) 


Ok, what is “The Toytown Sound”?  Although it describes a certain segment of British music, even many Brits are unfamiliar with the term. It’s generally whimsical, melodic pop, almost like an aural fairytale, and certainly many of the songs were inspired by fairy tales, and are about people, mostly fictional, who certainly could have been fairytale characters. It’s not unlike “sunshine pop”, which is used to describe similar U.S. (mostly) tunes, but the biggest difference is that toytown can often be darker in mood.  Climb Aboard My Roundabout is an almost flawless representation of the genre, beginning with one of the quintessential songs of the genre, “The Skeleton and The Roundabout” by The Idle Race, and continuing on with 86 (!) more.  Among the many standouts herein are “Ice Cream Men” by Kid Rock (no, not that one!); “Our Fairy Tale” by The Herd; “Rainbow Rocking Chair” by Majority One; “Tales of Flossie Fillet” by Turquoise; “Room At The Top of The Stairs” by Timothy Blue; “Happiness Is Toy Shaped” by Harmony Grass, Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s first single, “Mr. Moody’s Garden”, “Glasshouse Green, Splinter Red” by the criminally underrated songwriter, John Pantry and, well, so many more. If you love this kind of sound, you cannot do better than this collection.

 

 

 



Latest posts by David Bash (see all)

 You May Also Like

David Bash

David Bash is the founder of the pop music festival International Pop Overthrow and a contributing writer for RockandRollGlobe.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *