In the beginning there was Nuggets. Released only a few years after the Age of Aquarius peaked, the grandaddy of all psychedelic compilations was an anomaly in the early ’70s, but by the time the first psych revival kicked in, sometime in the early-to-mid-’80s, series like Pebbles and Rubble eagerly picked up where Nuggets left off, digging progressively deeper into the well of ’60s obscurities. By the time the 21st century rolled around, Nick Saloman, the man behind psych-revival outfit The Bevis Frond and the great Ptolemaic Terrascope zine, had begun carrying the tradition one step further with his New Rubble series. Reissued for wider consumption by the Past & Present label, the second NR volume — originally released in 2005 — immediately distinguishes itself by delving into psych-prog, that late-’60s/early-’70s style that was the missing link between psychedelia and all-out progressive rock.
At once harder-edged and more ambitious than the trippy territory of psych proper, psych-prog is still far more visceral and direct than the straight-up prog-rock sound that would reach its peak around ’73 or so. The best-known exemplars were bands like the Nice (who begat ELP) and early Family, but Saloman digs deep here, coming up with a selection of delectable esoterica from which even a diehard devotee like me can only identify about a third of the bands represented. Those who spend time poring obsessively over eBay listings may have a passing familiarity with the likes of Raw Material, Eire Apparent, and the Open Mind, but Rescue Co. No. 1? Putney Bridge? The Fruit Machine? Before this collection, you needed either a healthy amount of expendable cash or a collector-geek pal placed high on the food chain in order to hear some of these tracks.
So go ahead, soak up some fuzz-guitar frenzy that’s a little further beyond the sound of ’67 but still unchallenged by the rococo rampage of Mellotrons, Moogs, and children’s choirs that was soon to become de rigeur among the long-haired, beardy British rockers who populate Speaking My Mind.