Someone on a mailing list posted a download link to five documentaries from Radio New Zealand that rekindled Hughesy's interest in what has been labelled the Canterbury Scene (in case you're wondering that's the Kentish rather than Kiwi Canterbury) so I've caught up with bands that I missed first time around. 

On the reading front I've got Rob Young's Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music and a biography of Doug Sahm (Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm).

All those things have their roots in the sixties, so it may be time to look back to see where we're starting from.

If you take a candid look at the charts from back then, of course, you'll note that the sixties weren't quite as magical and innovative as they're often made out to be. There's a lot of dreck there, a fair swag of schmaltz, quite a deal of schmuck and more than a dash of saccharine.

But, hidden away in quiet corners and scattered through the Top Forty there were a number of little gems and the odd major masterpiece. There are all sorts of names you could rattle off, apart from the predictable Beatles and Rolling Stones. To pick out a few at random, try The Kinks, the Small Faces, Procol Harum, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, Love, Spirit and the Grateful Dead.

Most significant in all that was the quantum leap from, say 1963's She Loves You to 1967s Strawberry Fields Forever. That's a huge amount of territory to cover in just four years, as is the transition from Surfin' USA to Good Vibrations and Pet Sounds.

Much of that experimentation was a case of people trying things out because they could, and in most cases they were trying these new blends of influences and elements for the first time. There were developments in recording technology that allowed them to try things that couldn't have been done before and the emergence of LPs as a format for recorded music meant that suddenly there were all sorts of things out there that weren't that easy to obtain before.


B© Ian Hughes 2012