Another Splash Of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985 (RPM)

Another Splash of Color expands 1982’s similarly-titled single-album A Splash Of Colour into a three-disc set featuring a selection of U.K. psychedelic revival acts from 1980-1985. These were mostly underground groups who turned their backs on cutting edge post-punk, goth and hardcore for the comforts of the 1960s. Like the Paisley Underground in America, their self-conscious embrace of the past was an act of retreat, but there were enough interesting sub-factions and genuinely weird individuals working in the scene’s margins to make it worth exploring again in 2016.

Among the musical flavors found here are Mod Revival (including The Purple Hearts and The Vandells), the early Creation Records scene (Revolving Paint Dream, Biff! Bang! Pow! and The Jasmine Minks), classic English surrealists/nutters (Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, Cleaners From Venus and Nick Nicely), and a handful of punks trading in their spikes for paisley (Charlie Harper from the U.K. Subs; The Damned performing as Naz Nomad and The Nightmares, Captain Sensible; and Knox from The Vibrators, who does an excellent cover of Syd Barrett “Gigolo Aunt”). Even an Elvis Costello-less Attractions get in on the fun.

With sixty-four songs, there’s some wonderful highlights to choose from. The Soft Boys and Robyn Hitchcock are always great fun, and their respective entries, “Only The Stones Remain,” and the hyper-surreal “It’s A Mystic Trip” are typically well-crafted. The Blue Orchids (with Martin Bramah of The Fall on vocals) manage a strong Bunnymen/Doors vibe on “Work.” Creation head-honcho Alan McGee’s band Biff! Bang! Pow! squeeze so many guitar effects onto “A Day Out With Jeremy Chester” (it’s hard to imagine a song title more squarely aimed at recapturing the essence of 1967) that you wonder if he slipped their tapes to the members of Ride early on. Londoner Nick Nicely’s two songs (“49 Cigars” and “Hilly Fields”) are perhaps the set’s most notable, with an excellent blend of timeless 1960s song-writing and decidedly 1980s sounds.

However, many struggled to maneuver through the sounds of the ’60s during the time of mullets and gated reverb, with duds from Miles Over Matter, The Chicaynes and, literally, a few dozen others to sift through. Start at the beginning of Disc One and you’ll soon realize there were only a few folks in this scene with songwriting talent, musicianship, or a flair for the unique. For the most part, the bands whose names are familiar are the ones you want to hear – after all, there’s a reason they haven’t been forgotten 30+ years on.