(5 / 5)
A bumber six-disc box set which includes some previously unreleased material from UK psychedelic rock band July.
The band were only active from 1968 to ’69, but reformed in 2009. Releasing just the one album when they were together in the 1960s. There have been two compilations since (in 1987 and 1995), plus an album in 2013, four years after they reformed.
They also dropped two singles in 1968.Their most popular songs were “My Clown”, “Dandelion Seeds”, and “The Way”. Tom Newman and Pete Cook formed the band in London and were managed by Spencer Davis.
After July packed it in, Tom Newman released a few solo albums and also produced several albums for other artists, including Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Tubular Bells II, and Heaven’s Open.
In 2009, Tom and Pete joined forces with original July bandmates Chris Jackson and Alan James to reform the band. Tony Duhig (who died in 1990) and Jon Field were the other two original members not in the newly reformed line-up.
This new boxset kicks off with the mono version of their classic self-titled album from 1968, and the second disc here offers up the same dozen tracks from the original 60s’s album, this time in stereo. The mono version here gives us four bonus tracks.
The press blurb with this gem of a box set tells us “July” was released by the Major Minor label in 1968, the self-titled July album has long been acknowledged by genre enthusiasts as one of the classic UK psychedelic one-shots.
“Mixing the ambition and experimentation of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ with a lo-fi charm and endearing garage band artlessness”.
Record collectors hunt for an original copy, and an original UK copy – graded at VG++ – apparently recently sold on a well-known on-line auction site for a tad less than four grand (around £3700). Car booters take note!
Grapefruit, a label under the Cherry Red umbrella, releases this set at the end of July 2020 (of course it’d be a July release date!), and it includes the newly-remastered versions of the album in both mono and stereo formats.
The stereo version only previously available on the original 1968 American release. Plus here we get the various single issues, including a completely different recording of “The Way”, track six on the original album.
The third disc Disc, “The Second Of July”, is a collection of pre-album demos that appeared in the mid-Nineties.
The rest of this set offers up more recent July recordings following their return to live work a few years ago. Disc Four is their aborted album “Temporal Anomaly”, which was recorded around 2010, but which gets its first-ever release here.
The penultimate disc of the set of six is “Resurrection”, which received a limited release seven years ago back in 2013. The last disc here delivers the latest July recordings, “The Wight Album”.
Pieced together over the last few years by Tom Newman and Peter Cook at Tom’s recording studio on the Isle of Wight. Finally completed, “The Wight Album” – described by Tom as “the greatest July album” – brings the July story up-to-date.
The set includes a smashing 40-page booklet which features a 7000 word essay on the band, featuring new quotes and some period photos. The Complete Recordings is an epic look – and the audio quality is spot on – at the studio activities of one of the biggest cults to emerge from the original British psychedelic scene.
For an investment of between 25 and 30 quid for six discs and a total of 89 tracks, including first-time released tracks, this really is a ‘must have’ release….
It is a super insight into a creative and talented British band who probably deserved to have been big-time successful back in the day, if only based on just the one album. But the stars just didn’t align for them….
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’