Gathered From Coincidence: The British Folk Pop Sound of 1965–66 (Grapefruit Recordings)

 

It’s not really discussed in the annals of rock history, but the United States actually did have a counter attack to the British invasion that actually proved to be quite influential. Of course, we are talking about the folk rock invasion that was lead primarily by Bob Dylan, who came with very little assistance, aside from his disciples in the Byrds. Gathered From Coincidence: The British Folk Pop Sound of 1965–66 gathers up a whopping 79 songs from a very brief slice of the 1960s British music scene, offering up a fine three hour trip into the past.

It’s easy to understand why the British seen would take to something new; while Beatlemania was reigning in the United States and the rest of the world, in England, the phenomenon was already at least two years old, and they wanted something new and exciting. Bob Dylan just happened to be the man to offer something new:  he was transforming his own sound into one that was more ”electric” and rock oriented. The British music scene looked on with both wonderment and disdain as Dylan shocked concert audiences expecting something he was no longer willing to give them.

Unsurprisingly, Dylan dominates the track listing on Gathered From Coincidence, with nine songs being either covers or interpretations of songs Dylan covered. Some of the covers (The Cops ‘N Robbers’ “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Manfred Mann’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now,” The Factotums’ “Absolutely Sweet Marie”) are fantastic interpretations that easily rival the originals. The other takes are about as good as one would expect from a cover version, the most interesting of which being Joe Meek production of Heinz’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” which splits the difference between teen pop idol and space age production.  Conversely, the Ian Campbell Folk Group’s version of “The Times They Are A Changin’,” released in 1965, was a near note for note reproduction of the original song; though this number was only two years old, by 1965 it already sounds terribly dated and old hat.

In addition to these covers, gathered from coincidence offers examples of already successful and well-known groups   adjusting their style to this new sound. Bands like The Hollies,The Searchers, The Zombies,and The Kinks had already established themselves in the charts, and while their offerings here are good, they occasionally feel as if they’re unnecessarily trying too hard.  Even the Beatles were not above the influence,  and though none of their original recordings are found here, two of their most Dylanesque numbers are covered, including a fine version of “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” by The Silkie and Davy Graham’sstraightforward cover of  “I’m Looking Through You.”

Surprisingly, these well-established acts pale in comparison to  the rest of gathered from coincidence,  which offers selections ranging from hungry young upstarts who would find fame years later to artists  and bands who would think almost immediately into obscurity. The most well-known song here is by Donovan, as any such compilation would be incomplete without his iconic “Catch The Wind,” a song so Dylan-like in its imitation that it was often mistaken for Dylan himself.  Very young artists who had yet to make names for themselves include Marc Bolan, Olivia Newton John, Marianne Faithful, and Murray Head. Moody Bluesfront man Justin Haywardis represented by a selection from has extremely rare solo Single debut, while an unreleased track by a studio group named The Mirage features Graham Nash, who would soon go to work with former Byrds guitarist David Crosby.

But where Gathered From Coincidence really shines is with its special focus on humor. A handful of songs here are indeed quite funny, ranging from answer songs like the Barbara Ruskin’s Dylan response song “Well, How Does It Feel” and  “Age Of Corruption,” Alan Klein’s scathing commentary on the commercialization of folk music and protest songs, is an open response toBarry McGuire’s, “Eve Of Destruction,”. Micha’s “The Protest Singer” wonderfully parodies the melodramatic way po-faced seriousness folksingers conducted themselves, Gary Benson’s “That Man’s Got No Luck” is a quite funny but thinly veiled rewrite “Like a Rolling Stone,” while Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ “It’s Good News Week” lightheartedly imagines what life would be like for folksingers if for one week there was nothing but good news in the world.

Gathered From Coincidence: The British Folk Pop Sound of 1965–66 gathers up some very fine music from when Bob Dylan conquered the British music scene. But this folk rock revolution would not last; Dylan went self implode in 1966 and disappear for a year and a half, only to return with a stripped-down country rock sound that itself would soon become equally influential in the music world. Yet hidden away in this compilation is a song that serves wonderful transition as to what would come next. Kenny Bernard is a mostly forgotten Trinidadian immigrant who released only a handful of singles in a very brief career. “Hey Woman,” the song offered here, was a blatant rewrite of a song purported to be a traditional number, but had been recorded by American groups The Leaves and Love, under the title “Hey Joe.” His version would have been forgotten, had it not been for the fact that a young Dylan fan by the name of Jimi Hendrix supposedly heard Bernard’s recording and felt inspired to borrow its arrangement, and became one of the numbers that kick started an exciting new musical style…

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