Album review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Separate Paths Together (An Anthology Of British Male Singer/Songwriters 1965-75, 3 CD set)

Grapefruit [Release date 30.07.21]

Hard to see how an anthology could get any more specific. And interesting that it’s a companion piece to 2017′s female version. Well, interesting that the female version came first.

In those ten years that spanned the change from sixties to seventies – the “post Dylan, pre Punk era” – it’s also hard to imagine a time of more disparate, sometimes polar opposite sounds in popular music. Slap in the middle, 1970 is the year that : Black Sabbath released its debut; Charles Manson recorded a long player to help fund his defence, and The Beatles released their final album, Let It Be.

In a parallel pop music universe, flying above and below the public’s radar, a whole bunch of singer/ songwriter artists were making their mark, some more indelibly than others.

Enduring talents like Richard Thompson, Gerry Rafferty, Al Stewart, John Martyn, Ralph McTell, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Donovan are all here. And a special mention to those stars who flared briefly but brightly – there’s a song here from Clifford T Ward, a one hit wonder on John Peel’s Dandelion Records. And Peter Skellern, one of the first UK artists to incorporate brass bands into his romantic, piano based pieces is also here – his Top Twenty hit ‘Hold On To Love’ is on Disc One.

The original Nirvana are the acclaimed English duo/band who are credited with the invention of pre-ELO pop orchestration. Their baroque poprock material may have come to your attention recently via a flurry of vinyl reissues. One half of the duo, Patrick Campbell Lyons released the (now remastered) album ‘Me And My Friend’ in 1968. The pivotal track on disc 2, ‘Jesus Christ Junior’ is lifted from that.

And so this anthology cruises along, always in good spirits, with an almost inexhaustible supply of songs … prolific nearly man and ‘pre Camel’ (kind of) singer/songriter, Phillip Goodhand Tait’s ‘Reach Out For Each Other’ is almost buried among lesser known names on disc 3, as is Peter Sarstedt’s ‘One More Frozen Orange Juice’, the lesser charting follow up to his mammoth European hit, ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’.

All that said, perhaps the real gem is Graham Gouldman’s ‘For Your Love’. The song that began it all for the Yardbirds, where Clapton, Page and Beck all got their start. In rock’n'roll terms, you can’t get much more significant than that.  ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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