Compilation of wistful folk delights

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Various Artists – Gather In The Mushrooms: British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974

Imagine your best folk-rock mate doing you a tape from the most thrilling corners of his collection. Leaving aside the contentious application of the word “underground” to a form of music that had far more media outlets at the time than, say, comparable soul or reggae “undergrounds”, this is still one corker of a compilation. From Magnet’s Wicker Man opener (“Corn Rigs”) to the 12-minute garden of unearthly delights that is Comus’ “The Herald”, there’s barely a bad busker’s dirge to be heard here. The tracks by Forest, Vashti Bunyan, Shelagh MacDonald and Lesley Duncan are all blessed with that bleak and wistful undertow that characterised the era. Stranger still, the inclusion of Mr Brooks’ theme to the TV series The Family (and that’s about as overground as you can get!) is a timely reminder of what a rich resource early-’70s TV was for esoteric incidental music.