It has been a little while friends, but fear not because Out Here In The Fields is back to give your ears the kind of treat they deserve!
01 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS Slip Inside This House (8:06)
from 'Easter Everywhere', 1967
You actually can't start an album any better than this. You genuinely can't, because this is probably the greatest song ever written. It also has a great piece of advice:
"Live where you heart can be given / and your life starts to unfold
In the form you envision / in this dream that's ages old"
02 STACK Poison Ivy (3:24)
from 'Above All', 1969
Stack formed in Los Angeles in the late 60s, recorded one album which sounded rather a bit like The Who, and then split. They open the album on this stunning high note which helps you forgive that they never reach that peak again.
03 TELEVISION Foxhole (4:47)
from 'Adventure', 1978
Jesus Christ, Television were a great band. I've only just started to fully appreciate how great recently. This isn't necessarily my favourite track (how can you beat 'Marquee Moon'?) but it does fit pretty decently with the flow of this compilation up to now, and you really can't lose with Television in any case.
04 JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Spare Chaynge (9:14)
from 'After Bathing At Baxter's', 1967
One of the defining albums of the psychedelic era. After providing RCA with massive hits with 'Somebody To Love' and 'White Rabbit', the label gave the Airplane free license to do basically anything they wanted and they took full advantage. You can kind of picture the record label man giving it his first listen through, waiting on that radio-friendly single that never comes.
05 T.REX Electric Slim & The Factory Hen (3:05)
from 'Tanx', 1973
Probably the last album of the real classic era of T.Rex, containing the start of little nods to black American soul and funk (of which this track is one) which emerged following the beginning of Bolan's relationship with Gloria Jones. One thing is for sure whatever the era though; nobody writes lyrics quite like Marc Bolan.
06 PINK FAIRIES War Girl (4:34)
from 'Never Never Land', 1971
Oh Pink Fairies, how could it be that I never properly learned of your existence until I was 35 years old? Never mind, we've found each other now. Quite simply I love this band, and more or less this entire album. Again, it's hard hard to pick a favourite track and this may not actually be it, but it does fit quite well into the flow of things, and a good bit of shimmering psychedelia never goes amiss.
07 THE DEVIANTS Rambling B(l)ack Transit Blues (5:38)
from 'The Deviants #3', 1969
Mick Farren claimed in his autobiography 'Give The Anarchist A Cigarette' that this album should never have been made and that the band were running so low on inspiration they couldn't even come up with a title. I guess he'd know better than me about the inspiration levels of people he worked with who were all living long before I was born, but listening to the album doesn't appear to bear him out. I'd definitely say it was actually my favourite Deviants album by some way.
08 TWINK Fluid (4:06)
from 'Think Pink', 1970
Twink was the drummer with The Pretty Things and then the Pink Fairies, as well as on Mick Farren's solo album, while still finding time to squeeze in this effort featuring various members of the Pretty Things, Deviants, Pink Fairies and Steve Took, formerly Bolan's partner in Tyrannosaurus Rex. You don't need me to say anything about this track, I think it speaks pretty clearly for itself...
09 PINK FLOYD Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (5:28)
from 'A Saucerful Of Secrets', 1968
I was never much into Pink Floyd until recently. Sure, I had 'The Wall' and 'Dark Side Of The Moon' like you're supposed to, and there was even a period a few years ago when I got a little bit into 'Wish You Were Here', but on the whole I was never much fussed about Floyd. It was the 'Live At Pompeii' film that changed my mind, something about those unreal sounds unfolding inside that ancient amphitheatre clicked in my mind. 'A Saucerful Of Secrets' was a transitional album that was simultaneously the last to feature Syd Barret and the first to feature David Gilmour. Much as I respect Syd's unique contributions to the era, I far prefer the textural space rock stuff that started here and ran through to 'Meddle'. That's my Pink Floyd; you may continue to listen to your own editions of Pink Floyd as you wish.
10 THE BEATLES Golden Slumbers (1:32)
11 THE BEATLES Carry That Weight (1:37)
from 'Abbey Road', 1969
In the 'Imagine' film there's a guy who has spent a short while living rough in John Lennon's garden. John gets him up to the door where the guy explains that he considered that 'Carry That Weight' was a song and a message written to him personally, and he was there to fulfill it. John patiently explains that to think that is pretty absurd if you think about it, the guy looks a little sheepish in realising he's got things pretty badly wrong, then they all go inside for a bit of toast. Listening to it now, I can't help but think of 'Carry That Weight' as a call to cast off your worldly excess weight of possessions, societal expectations and the life-long grind of mortgage and rat race and embrace something more individual and worthwhile.
12 CAT STEVENS Rubylove (2:38)
from 'Teaser And The Firecat', 1971
What is life without a little poetic romanticism? Isn't that what music helps to bring to us? I always thought so. When I first met her, my partner used 'Ruby Red' as one of her pseudonyms and I wove all sorts of romantic visions and ideals around that. Well friends, the truth is that I lost sight of myself for a few years along the way there, got bogged down in material things, in paying bills and the endless cycle you have to go through to get the money to pay those bills, and the unneeded material comforts that you buy yourself to ease the pain of being in that cycle, without realising that by continually feeding into that material path with small comforts I was only digging myself deeper in and moving further and further away from the things I really wanted and valued. Now has come a renaissance, a rediscovery of something lost or at least dormant inside, and I can start to live my life as me again. It might sound stupid, but just the title of the song is a start back toward who and what I am and would wish to be again.
13 SHAGRAT Beautiful Deceiver (2:46)
Shagrat was the band formed by Steve Took after Marc Bolan sacked him from Tyrannosaurus Rex after he spiked Bolan's drink on tour and caused him some serious emotional and psychological trauma during the bad trip that followed. This track, easily imaginable in the midst of a Tyrannosaurus Rex album (Bolan would recruit Mickey Finn to replace Took, plug in the electrics and re-christen the band T.Rex) was recorded around 1970 but didn't see the light of day on an album until 'Pink Jackets Required' surfaced on cd in 2001.
14 BUKKA WHITE District Attorney Blues (2:43)
"District Attorney sure is hard on a man". You can certainly see why you would think so from the inside of the notorious Parchman Farm prison where Booker T Washington White served a sentence for assault. Victor Records were hard on a man too, mis-spelling Booker as Bukka when they put out his recordings from 1930 onwards. This was a particular source of annoyance for Booker, who was proud at being named after African American civil rights activist Booker T Washington, though the news that 'Shake 'Em On Down' had become a big hit during 1937 may have softened the blow as well as making him a big prison celebrity. I believe this recording was made in 1940.