A truly good compilation is hard to craft. At best most wind up an assorted repository of likeminded mementos, acting as a primer for a deep dive into a neglected segment of the past. The scholarly route is the sure-fire setup and one that’s been at the heart of everything from Nuggets to the top comps from Light in the Attic to Numero. So, when a compilation like Sad About The Times comes along, it stands apart. Acting as a follow-up of sorts to the Mikey Young/Keith Abramsson compiled Follow The Sun, which sought to compile lesser known Australian folk-rock, Sad About The Times is a collection more about mood than documentation. Though the songs here are all from the ‘70s, that’s about the only time-stamp or geographic qualifier that ties them from an academic standpoint.
They range from psych to folk, country to gloss-dipped rock. The artists dot the map from Canada to NY, but hover mostly around California, whether physically or just from a mental standpoint. What truly ties this collection together is its sense of melancholy and the feeling that each track could just as easily soundtrack transcendence or tidal breath. The songs hang on to the edge of ache, waiting to crash the dam of tears or simply let the veil of narcotics wash away the pain. The ‘70s held sway over many tropes, but somewhere the coke-damaged cowboy persists – strung through the songs of Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, Gene Clark, Townes Van Zandt and quite a few others – and this compilation seems to find footing somewhere in their orbit. If not always a musical match, the songs here remain spiritual kinfolk to those haunted souls.
The compilation acts more as a mixtape than a document. It’s the kind of collection that would be lovingly pored over and passed to a friend in need, and perhaps that’s what Anthology’s done for us all. In the darkest hours music can be the candle that lights the path out of the cave. Sad About The Times is a flicker in the dark and a damn good one too. If you’re looking for a shoulder to lean on, SATT has got you, man. The label’s wrapped it all up in the storybook lysergia of Brian Blomerth, making this a package that’s almost too tempting for its own good. Can’t recommend this one highly enough.
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