VA – Shapes & Sounds – Volume 1 – Orange & Red Beams From The BBC Archives, 1967-1969 (2006)

FrontCover1`Shapes And Sounds’ offers seventeen performances taped in BBC studios between 1967 and 1969 for radio shows such as `Top Gear’ and Saturday Club’, as well as some of the weekly Radio 1 programmes. This release, on both LP and CD, features six bands, all of whom will be familiar to collectors of psychedelia and pop of the period, some of which are lauded as being amongst the most rated groups of their time. For many pride of place will go to Kaleidoscope, as `Shapes And Sounds’ features two tracks that are missing from the BBC’s Transcription Service archive.


Thanks to the recent discovery of a transcription disc, Top Sounds are privileged to offer a choice version of the band’s most contagious single `Jenny Artichoke’, as well as a stupendous rendition of the `Faintly Blowing’ cut `Music’. Also thought lost and making their debut on record and CD are three splendid tracks by Tomorrow featuring Keith West, sourced from two editions of `Top Gear’ in October 1967 and February 1968. Included are excellent renditions of `Blow Up’,`Colonel Brown’ and `Real Life Permanent Dream’. `Shapes And Sounds’ also offers the four remaining Timebox session tracks from the Beeb archives, which include an admirable slice of blue eyed soul in their cover of the Young Rascals’ `A Girl Like You’, which the band never recorded outside of the BBC. The Montanas’ selections feature a superior rendering of `A Step In The Right Direction’ , as well as some cracking Moby Grape covers and a Kenny Lynch / Mort Schuman penned `You’re Never Gonna Get My Lovin’. Of all these numbers from their repertoire, only `A Step In The Right Direction’ ever appeared on a single.


Gentle Influence impress with their BBC only cover of Curtis Mayfield’s `You’ve Been Cheatin’, as well as a very good version of their last single `Always Be A Part Of My Living’. The Spectrum offer a fuzz guitar spiked performance of `Headin’ For A heatwave’ which is more virile and much more atmospheric than the 45 version, and they enthusiastically rip through a Beeb only take of the Artwoods favourite `I Take What I Want’.


The sound quality is absolutely superb throughout, with nearly every track sourced from original BBC Transcription records and though few of the tracks on the collection needed much enhancement at all, all have been professionally restored and mastered. The presentation is immaculate and the CD has a twenty four page booklet packed with illustrations, band histories and listings of all their known BBC sessions. All the selections on this release were specially recorded for the BBC during the late 1960s and in many cases are better than the familiar released versions, and appear here on CD and vinyl for the first time. All copies are hand numbered and `Shapes And Sounds’ is a legitimate limited edition release, licensed from the BBC with the blessing / co-operation of no less than nineteen band members. (press release)

CDBooklet09AAn excellent choice of BBC recordings from a high quality league of psychedelic groups that delivered original material deserving more recognition. The sleeve is packed with press cuttings, discographies and biographies of all groups featured. The album starts off with Kaleidoscope represented with 2 tracks that were omitted from their BBC compilation Please listen to the pictures (CD or 2-LP). These are the single A side Jenny Artichoke, but of course in a different live version, and a fantastic early live version of Music, that later was released in a studio version on Faintly blowing. Other artists featured are Tomorrow with Keith West.

Spectrum, The Montanas, Timebox and Gentle Influence. I bought records by most of those “obscure” artists way back then, and the music has mostly stood the test of time. (by Knut Skyberg)


The Top Sounds label was set up by veteran British psych journalist Nigel Lees. After the release of its first compilation of super-rare British psych, Alphabeat, it concentrated on the groundbreaking Shapes and Sounds series. Taking its cue from Circle Records’ like-minded Action and Kaleidoscope releases, Shapes and Sounds compile largely unknown BBC session recordings from both cult favorites and forgotten British groups of the late 60s. Due to airtime and musicians union rules, many bands were required to record songs in BBC studios for inclusion on transcription discs that could then be either retransmitted or sent to other radio outlets around the world. Auntie Beeb had a nasty habit of wiping many of these discs clean for re-use but those that weren’t have shown up as the various “BBC Sessions” releases of the Beatles, David Bowie, etc. In their defense, the BBC also recorded a lot of bands that had only small or no hits to their names at the time such as Kaleidoscope, Gentle Influence, and the Spectrum, included in the first volume here.


Orange and Red Beams includes 3 highly regarded psych darlings, Kaleidoscope, Timebox, and Tomorrow. Some rerecorded singles such as “Jenny Artichoke” and “Beggin'” don’t differ too dramatically from the originals, though they are still welcome inclusions. Other rerecorded tracks, however, differ wildly and are far superior in this incarnation, such as Timebox’s “Yellow Van” (finally free of those faux-soul bleating trumpets) and an absolutely stunning version of the uncharacteristic Kaleidoscope freakout “Music”.

The lesser known bands also acquit themselves splendidly, with Gentle Influence’s rousing take on the Impressions’ “You’ve Been Cheatin'” and Spectrum’s “Headin’ for a Heatwave”.


The main draw of any BBC sessions, however, are the otherwise unrecorded songs. Here the Montanas, of all things, shine with 2 storming Moby Grape covers to go with their even more heavily phased smash through hidden gem “Step in the Right Direction”. Tomorrow perform the unreleased In Crowd track “Blow Up” which was supposed to be the title track to the film of the same name.

The sound quality is excellent throughout, with the exception of “Blow Up” which is an off-air recording. Both CD and vinyl releases are notable for their exquisite attention to detail. There are precious few archival releases that are presented this lovingly, with tons of color pictures and copious liner notes (in the smallest font possible). Anyone who is a fan of the aforementioned bands should try to snap this up immediately. Only 1000 hand-numbered copies of each. (by Magic Hands)


01. Kaleidoscope: Jenny Artichoke (Daltrey/Pumer) 2.38
02. Gentle Influence: You’ve Been Cheatin’ (Mayfield) 2.22
03. The Montanas: Hey Grandma (Miller/Stevenson) 2.20
04. Timebox: Beggin’ (Farina/Gaudio) 2.51
05. The Spectrum: Headin’ For A Heatwave (Roberts/Kinsella) 2.40
06. Tomorrow (featuring Keith West): Colonel Brown (Hopkins/Burgess) 2.53
07. Timebox: Stay There (Patto/Halsall) 3.04
08. The Montanas: A Step In The Right Direction (Trent/Hatch) 3.18
09. Tomorrow (featuring Keith West): Blow Up (Hopkins) 2.05
10. Timebox: A Girl Like You (Cavaliere/Brigati) 3.05
11. The Montanas: You’re Never Going To Get My Lovin’ (Lynch/Shuman) 2,38
12. Tomorrow (featuring Keith West): Real Life Permanent Dream (Hopkins) 2.36
13. Kaleidoscope: Music (Daltrey/Pumer) 3.22
14. The Montanas: Omaha (Spence) 2.27
15. The Spectrum: I Take What I Want (Hayes/Porter/Hodges) 2.27
16. Timebox: Yellow Van (Patto/Halsall) 2.41
17. Gentle Influence: Always Be A Part Of My Living (Fletcher/Flett) 3.18