From the opening set by Starry Eyed and Laughing, the five disks in this package sent me back into a warm nostalgia that was surprisingly at odds with my actual recollections of the timeframe involved.

Starry Eyed and Laughing, widely dismissed as a wannabe-Byrds outfit and a band I hadn't heard until now open proceedings with a set that's totally obvious about influences, but delivered with an élan that makes me wish that classic Byrds line-up had lasted through the dramas that devoured the original line-up in the late sixties. Hardly earth-shattering, but pretty bloody wonderful...

Second up, the set by Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers didn't hit me as well as the studio Bongos Over Balham did, but, hey, this is live and Bongos is one of my most treasured musical pieces of nostalgia, Still, it's always good to hear from an old favourite, and this was a very classy, if short-lived outfit. I'll be looking for Kings of the Robot Rhythm and the I'll Be Home compilation. 

Ex-Kingston Trio member John Stewart surprised many people with Gold in the late seventies, but his set here is a reminder that the guy was a more than decent songwriter (viz. the versions here of Daydream BelieverArmstrong and July, You're A Woman, none of which I recall associating with Stewart as a writer). It's another set that underlines the quality of what was out there waiting to be noticed while some of us were looking for the next big thing, and there was another timely reminder of things I'd missed first time around in Help Yourself, another outfit firmly oriented towards the West Coast, with four extended jams making up the almost hour-long set.

But if you're looking for something rather wonderful, I'd point you to the closing set by ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith and pedal steel player Red Rhodes. While Nesmith was certainly no stranger to radio airplay, particularly with the rather whimsical Rio, most of his catalogue slipped by under the radar, and once the opening Joanne and Some of Shelley's Blues are out of the way we're into unfamiliar territory that'll need to be investigated further. Quality writing, warm vocals and Rhodes' pedal steel is simply stunning.

While what's on offer here is probably not much more than a footnote in the big scheme of things it's worth investigating if you've got the interest, the readies and you're quick enough on your feet to snaffle one of the remaining copies from the run of 2000 boxes from (£39 if you use PayPal, £2 credit card surcharge). 

It has certainly laid out a few more avenues for Hughesy to investigate.

© Ian Hughes 2012