La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 (Vinyl).

Label: Boss-A-Tone Records.

Nowadays, the compilation market in Britain is fiercely competitive, with independent and major record companies from home and abroad fighting for the compilation pound week after week. That has been the case for the last few years, and with every passing week new record companies join the frae, hoping to entice record buyers with their newest releases. 

Many of these smaller record companies start with good intentions, and get as far as releasing one or two carefully curated compilations, before falling by the wayside. It’s only then that their owners realise that there’s more to running a record label than having impeccable taste in music.

Meanwhile, there are other record companies in Britain and Europe who continue to release lovingly compiled compilations that introduce record buyers to music that might otherwise have passed them by. This is something that Boss-A-Tone Records have been doing for the best part of two decades. 

The Boss-A-Tone Records’ story began in 2002 with the compilation Love, Strings And… Bossa! on vinyl. This was just the start for Boss-A-Tone Records.

Buoyed by the success of Love, Strings And… Bossa!, Boss-A-Tone Records started compiling the first instalment in their Stasera Shake series. After that came Mondo Girls and Holding A Dream which were all released on CD. However, by the time the Jigsaw Puzzle compilation was released in 2015, there had been a resurgence of interest in vinyl. 

Many critics and even some label managers thought that vinyl was just a passing fad, and thought that downloads and streaming was the future. These poor misguided fools were wrong, and three years later, record companies are reissued albums and compilations that were originally released on CD. This includes Boss-A-Tone Records who have just reissued their 2007 compilation La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 on transparent heavyweight yellow vinyl. It’s a welcome reissue of one of Boss-A-Tone Records’ finest hours.

The CD version of La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 featured twenty-two tracks, but because of the time constraints of vinyl, only seventeen tracks feature on the LP. Even that is something of a squeeze, with side A lasting a mighty twenty-eight minutes, while side B is just over twenty-six minutes. Maybe it would’ve been better to include the twenty-two tracks and make La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 a double album? Especially given the myriad of hidden gems on offer on La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1.

Among the seventeen artists and bands that are included on  La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 are The Pawnshop, Round House, The Ghost, Tony Ritchie, Birth Control and Tony Hendrik. There’s also contributions from Spencer Mac, Black Velvet, Dany Martin, Gene Latter and Electra. These artists and bands on La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 contribute to a truly eclectic compilation that is described as: “17 European Folky-Funky and Pop-Sike Tunes.”

Side A.

Opening La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 is by the Italian group The Pawnshop, who released My Shade as a single on the Roman Record Company in 1971. It’s a memorable and melodic psychedelic rock ballad that showcases an underrated and talented band.

Round House was formed in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1969 and were heavily inspired by Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears. Sadly, Round House only released one single and two albums on the Harvest label. This includes Down To Earth In 1973, which featured Alchemy Is Good For You (Don’t You Know It). It finds Round House seamlessly combing elements of funk, fusion, psychedelic rock and progressive rock. Sadly, Round House’s music failed to find the audience that this talented group deserved. 

The Ghost was founded in Birmingham, England, in the late-sixties, and soon, the five piece band combining psychedelia with dark imagery. To this, combined searing guitars, soaring Byrdsian harmonies and a swirling Farfisa organ. This was a potent combination, and featured on their bluesy, psychedelic single I’ve Got To Get To Know You which was penned by Shirley Kent. It was released by the Gemini label in 1970, and later, that year, I’ve Got To Get To Know You opened The Ghost’s vastly underrated debut album When You’re Dead-One Second.

Anyone with even a passing interest in German music will have heard of Birth Control, who have enjoyed an almost unrivalled longevity. They were formed in Berlin in 1968 and are still going strong fifty years later. However, in 1972, Birth Control released What’s Your Name as a single on the Ohr label, and it features one the Berlin-based band at their hard rocking best.

Another hard rocking track is Work All Day by The Tony Hendrik, which was a beat band led by the Cologne-based singer, songwriter and producer Tony Hendrik. Work All Day was written by Eddie Phillips and Kenny Lee and released on the Vogue Schallplatte label in 1969.

Nuova Idea was another beat band that was founded in the late-sixties. However, Nuova Idea outgrew their beat roots and moved in the direction of psychedelia and later progressive rock. They also worked on several soundtracks during the seventies. However, by 1972 Nuova Idea had embraced progressive rock and released the single and album Mr. E. Jones on the Italian label Ariston Progressive. Mr. E. Jones manages to be trippy, melodic and hard rocking all at once, and is a tantalising taste of Nuova Idea in full flight. It’s the perfect way to close the first side of La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1.

Side B.

Spencer Mac was a short-lived British group that featured Joe Gillingham and Paul Spencer Mac.  They released just two singles as Spencer Mac, including Ka-Ka Kabaya Mow-Mow on the Penny Farthing label in 1970. It’s a genre-melting and gimmicky single where Spencer Mac combine elements of funk, jazz, pop and even soul. However, it’s far from the strongest song on La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 compilation.

Although the British funk and soul band Black Velvet was formed in 1969, they had started life as The Raisins. Just two years and several record labels later, Black Velvet was signed by Gordon Mills for his MAM label. Management, Agency and Music Ltd was also home to Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck who were Gordon Mills’ two biggest clients. However, Black Velvet’s time at MAM was short, and they only released two singles during 1971. This included the funky, soulful Tropicana which was produced by Don Lawson. 

François Wertheimer wrote L’Automne which was released as a single by BYG Records in 1971. It finds the French singer, songwriter and musician combining elements of psychedelia and progressive rock during one of the earliest singles of his career.

In 1968, Manuel de la Calva and Ramón Arcusa decided to change direction musically, so changed their name to Manolo Y Ramón. They signed to the Spanish label Vergara, and later in 1968, released their eponymous debut album. Two years later, Manolo Y Ramón were signed to the Odeon label in South America, and in 1970 released their eponymous sophomore album. It featured Lagrimas, Sonrisas which a punchy slice of soulful and psychedelic pop-rock which is a memorable reminder of this talented duo.

Many connoisseurs of progressive rock remember Electra as one of the longest running East German progressive rock bands. They have the honour of closing La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 with Über Feuer, which was penned by Bernd Aust and Heinz Kahlau. This track has long been a favourite of compilation compilers. In 1972, it featured on Hallo Nr. 5 which was released by the Berlin-based Amiga label. Then in 2007, Über Feuer featured on the CD version of La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1. Six years later, in 2013, Über Feuer made a welcome return on Velvet Revolutions: Psychedelic Rock From The Eastern Bloc 1968-1973. Now Über Feuer returns for an encore and is a  welcome reminder of one of the greatest East German  progressive rock bands in their prime…Electra.

Eleven years after Boss-A-Tone Record released La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 on CD in 2007, seventeen of the twenty-two tracks feature on the newly released vinyl version. However, this is no ordinary vinyl release. Instead, it’s a deluxe, limited edition of 300, that has been pressed on transparent yellow heavyweight vinyl. With only 300 copies available, there’s every chance that, one day, La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 will become a collector’s items. Especially given the quality of music on this lovingly compiled, eclectic compilation. 

There’s everything from beat and blues to funk and fusion to jazz, pop, pop-rock, psychedelia and progressive rock from The Pawnshop, Round House, The Ghost, Birth Control, Tony Hendrik, Spencer Mac, Black Velvet and Electra. These artists and bands come from all over Europe. A number come from Britain, but other bands and artists come from Belgium, East Germany, France, Hungary,  Italy, Spain, Switzerland and West Germany. While some of these artists will be familiar to many record buyers, many will be new names. That is why La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 is best described as a musical voyage of discovery, which at the end can compared to a veritable feast of eclectic music.

 La Discoteque Psychédélique Volume 1 (Vinyl).


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