Saturday, 3 February 2018

STRANGE FLOWERS - BEST THINGS ARE YET TO COME (Area Pirata Records 2 x CD, D/L).

Strange Flowers are happening………………to mark the passing of three decades since Neo-Psych veterans The Strange Flowers first burst onto the Italian psychedelic scene, Area Pirata Records (the home of Italian Garage Rock) have released an epic 2 x CD, 30 track anthology of newly mixed, and/or mastered songs from each of their 7 albums plus 5 previously unreleased tracks (3 of them specially recorded for this record) tracing the story so far. Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the sometimes bumpy journey from a young Paisley Underground inspired band to mainstays of the Italian Psych Scene that are well respected and much loved across mainland Europe with the songs unfolding in a chronological order over the two discs. Split into two distinctive sections, disc 1 (“The First Republic”) covers the first phase of the band from 1987 to 1996 where international success always seemed a mere touch away if given the breaks and a bit more luck, while the second disc (“The Second And Third Republic”) chronicles the years following The Strange Flowers critically acclaimed return in 2006 where they have now cemented their reputation as one of the finest Italian Psychedelic Pop bands………….it’s a definitive collection that spans the long strange trip from the Byrdsian jangle of the early years, through the tripped out 90s to the grown up, artfully crafted Psychedelia of their recent records.

The early material has been favorably compared to 80s Neo-Psychedelic bands such as The Rain Parade with it’s distinctive sound no doubt influenced by the Paisley Underground, however the first years of The Strange Flowers appeared to be a series of false starts with band being more popular in Germany than back at home. It’s the German connection that led to the release of their debut single (‘Me And The Eggman’ b/w ‘Janet's Faces’) which appeared on the Unique label in 1990, followed by the long delayed Music For Astronauts LP which finally appeared as part of the Teen Trash series issued by German Psych label Music Maniac in 1994. Disc 1 brings together a choice collection of songs which includes the fantastic debut single, cuts from the first album and songs that although written at the start of the 90s did not appear on record until 2006……………….it’s all quite brilliant!! The Strange Flowers early songs are concise, acid soaked Psych Pop gems, mostly around the 3 minute mark and stripped of any excess. The first single, ‘Me And The Eggman’, is a kaleidoscopic swirl of a tune that would not sound out of place on Emergency Third Rail Power Trip and if the tracks from Music For Astronauts had appeared around five years earlier and not as Grunge was giving way to Brit Pop, The Strange Flowers coulda bin contenders if not for a series of unfortunate events putting them in the wrong place at the wrong time. The standout track from the first disc is the previously unreleased ‘The Sixth Color’, written in 1993 but only recently recorded, which is a hazy technicolour trip back in time to the early 80s L.A. Psychedelic Underground of The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock, Eleventh Dream Day and, of course, The Rain Parade.

Finally recording songs originally written back in the 90s, The Strange Flowers returned with a new album in 2006, but this time Ortoflorovivaistica landed at the start of a new Psychedelic Revival and for once they were at the heart of a growing Italian Psychedelic scene. Released by Nasoni Records, Ortoflorovivaistica received glowing reviews which which kick started the most productive period of their career recording six albums between 2006 and 2015………………Disc two contains the highlights from these records. Opening with a re-recording of ‘Strange Girl 2000’, this is The Strange Flowers at their trippiest and most Psychedelic with a Raga Rock work out that gracefully unwinds over a blissed out 10 minutes, the second disc of Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the evolution of the band into a thoroughly modern Psychedelic Pop outfit firing on all cylinders. Still influenced by American Psych bands, still free of any self indulgence, they have developed as song writers creating beautiful tunes with their last LP Pearls At Swine being a fine example of how much they have become masters of their craft. There are some outstanding tunes here including the West Coast vibes of ‘The Naked Monk’ and ‘Everyone Has A Spot In The Sunshine’, the groovy ‘Underneath Electric Wires’ and the 60s influenced ‘Watching The Clouds From A Strawberry Tree’ that are the pick of a second CD packed great songs. Working as both a celebration of 30 years of the Psychedelic adventures of The Strange Flowers and also an introduction to a band little known outside mainland Europe, Best Things Are Yet To Come is well worth checking out.

Available as a lavishly packaged 2 x CD or as a digital download, Best Things Are Yet To Come is out NOW. You can order it from the Area Pirata on line store or alternatively check it out/stream it/buy it from the Area Pirate Bandcamp site here………..

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