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Blossom Toes-Love Bomb: Live 1967-1969
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Blossom Toes

Love Bomb: Live 1967-1969

Format: Vinyl   Release Date: 08/04/2009
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Reg. Price: $56.99

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Blossom Toes were one of the best late-'60s British bands not to make a big commercial impact, so the release, if belated, of two entire CDs of previously unissued live material is bound to perk up the interest of U.K. psychedelia collectors. Yet though it does help fill out the picture of a band whose official catalog was limited to a couple of albums and a few non-LP sides, it must be noted that this really isn't Blossom Toes at their best, for reasons that aren't entirely the group's fault. First, with the exception of a couple songs from an October 1967 U.K. radio broadcast, the sound quality isn't too good. More subtly, the actual songs are often pretty unlike the tracks on the group's admirable pair of albums -- in fact, they're sometimes drastically different than Blossom Toes' studio output, and not always in a good way. Disc one is entirely devoted to a live Swedish club performance on August 26, 1967, and fans of their fine 1967 LP of wistful pop-psychedelia, We Are Ever So Clean, might be astonished that just one of the eight songs ("The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog") is taken from that record. Otherwise, the set shows a much looser, less song-oriented, improvisational blues-psychedelic sound than came through on their early studio output, including a cover of Captain Beefheart's "Electricity" and a pretty dire rendition of "Smokestack Lightning." It does also feature a stomping charge through a good tune from their second album, "Listen to the Silence"; a cover of folk-rock singer/songwriter Shawn Phillips' "Woman Mind" that's somewhat more in line with the sound of their first LP than most of the set; and an original by guitarist/singer Jim Cregan, "First Love Song," that doesn't appear on their studio recordings, but is a fairly unfocused jam-type thing. As good as We Are Ever So Clean is, if not for the presence of "The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog," you might never suspect it's the same band, and they're certainly not making music as distinctive as they did that same year on that LP. The second disc starts with two decent-fidelity cuts from October 1967 radio broadcast, "What on Earth" and "The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog," both of which are pretty faithful to the arrangements heard on We Are Ever So Clean. It's back to fuzzier-sounding concert recordings, however, for the final five songs, which come from Belgian festival performances in August and October of 1969. These include well-done live renditions of two of the highlights of their harder-rocking second LP (If Only for a Moment), "Indian Summer" and "Peace Loving Man"; a surprise in a swinging jazzy cover of Shawn Phillips' "Stargazer," which has oddly superior sound quality to the other Belgian recordings; and, anticlimactically, a too-long drawn-out version of Ben E. King's "Grooving" on which Frank Zappa guests. While one appreciates that Blossom Toes considered themselves a harder-rocking, wilder group than was evident on the We Are Ever So Clean album, the fact is that the material that gave them a chance to stretch out on-stage just isn't as impressive as what they devised in the studio. Combined with the largely substandard (if basically listenable) sound quality of most of this set, it has to be considered unrepresentative of Blossom Toes at their best, if of interest to serious fans of the group. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi

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