Prog should always be bold. Nothing is quite as bold as having a set of cover songs spread across 4 LPs. Did I mention that each song takes up one side of vinyl (just like “Tales from Topographic Oceans”)? Well, that’s what the “Side Effects” vinyl boxset from Fruits de Mer Records does!
Prior to listening to this set, I was only familiar with one band, Arcade Messiah. They perform “Four Horsemen” which was a song I was not familiar with. I think that actually works to their favor. No preconceived notions! It’s an epic track which showcases the talent of the multi-talented John Bassett. Another track I was not familiar with was the Miles Davis combo of “Shhh/Peaceful” which is performed here by Julie’s Haircut. Plenty of trumpet makes it clear that it is a Miles Davis track. Very experimental and psychedelic.
The Bevis Frond take on a song by krautrockers Electric Sandwich who only released one album. I do love obscure songs but this is definitely krautrock in its truest form. Being that I’ve never been keen on 20 minutes of the same chord pattern, this one falls short for me. Another track that just doesn’t work is The Luck of Eden Hall covering the classic “Starship Trooper.” The problem here is that they come way too close to the original and if you are going to do that, you’d better NAIL it. They just sound like another bar band shitting out an average cover version of a Yes song. They would have been better warping the hell out of the song.
Speaking of warping the hell out of a song, Wreaths do a near 17 minute version of the Gordon Lightfoot song “Sundown.” Now, Gordon Lightfoot is not prog by any means but it shows that Wreaths are creative enough to try to make him prog. There is no mistaking the song, they do leave the melodies in tact. They just let the chord progression flow seemingly endlessly for the next 14 plus minutes. Does it work? Well it’s a bit excessive because not a whole lot really happens. Kudos to the band for trying.
It’s hard to believe that covering “Echoes” by Pink Floyd would be considered safe but since the song is already extremely long and quite experimental, there wasn’t much that the Soft Bombs had to do with the song itself. However, they do make it their own sci-fi experiment for sure. This is definitely one of the better tracks on this set because the band nail every bit of the sound.
The two final covers are both rather unlikely songs. Superfjord cover the Byrds and Sendelica cover Donna Summer! Superfjord really turn “CTA-102” into something rather beautiful, droning and even ambient. The original is a mere 2 minutes and 20 seconds, and this version sounds NOTHING like it. Sendelica take a very well known disco song in “I Feel Love” and make it into a psychedelic odyssey. The song doesn’t “kick in” until about 5 and 1/2 minutes in. But even when it kicks in, it is so far from being disco, it makes it feel like a totally different song. You can tell what the song is but it’s a totally different beast.
Fans of psych rock, krautrock and space rock will NEED this box set for sure. Personally, the “Sidetracks” album would be the only one I would consider to be essential because those 2 covers are far and away my favorites. Kudos to Fruits de Mer Records for having the balls to release something this experimental and bold. More labels should be so daring.
The Soft Bombs – “Echoes” (Pink Floyd)
Arcade Messiah – “Four Horsemen” (Aphrodite’s Child)
The Bevis Frond – “China” (Electric Sandwich)
Wreaths – “Sundown” (Gordon Lightfoot)
Superfjord – “CTA-102” (The Byrds)
The Luck Of Eden Hall – “Starship Trooper” (Yes)
Julie’s Haircut – “Shhh/Peaceful” (Miles Davis)
Sendelica – ‘I Feel Love’ (Donna Summer)
Label: Fruits de Mer Records
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