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VA - Instro-Hipsters a Go-Go 5CD Box Set (2008)

A five-CD limited-edition box that combines all five volumes of Psychic Circle's Instro-Hipsters a Go-Go series, complete with a new 80-plus page booklet that ties everything together and adds biographies of the artists as well as discographies, this set is nothing less than the instrumental soundtrack of Swingin' London in the late 1960s and early '70s. The variety on display here is impressive, ranging from B-3-driven soul-jazz jams to twangy surf guitars, honking sax R&B stompers, and sweeping, orchestrated lounge oddities. Truthfully, it sounds like the Mod soundtrack to an epic James Bond movie tossed into a time warp blender, and while there is almost every kind of instrumental style represented here, it has a surprisingly unified feel and tone when all is said and done (the whole affair was compiled and sequenced by Nick Saloman, otherwise known as the Bevis Frond). Among the highlights are Timebox's delightfully loose "I Wish I Could Jerk Like My Uncle Cyril," the insistent "Saturday Jump" by Midnight Shift, the Mike Cotton Sounds' "Like That," the Roulettes' "Junk," and the nascent funk of "Ridin' on the Gravy Train" by the Thunder Company, but again, even though this box certainly feels varied, there's an overriding scheme to it that makes it all fit together like a giant, glowing neon hymn to the wonderful excesses and eccentricities of hip '60s London. If that's one's cup of tea, than this is a big old cup of tea. --- Steve Leggett

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