Unboxing the Forgotten Gems: Spooky Tooth’s ‘The Island Years’
This is another installment in my series where I unbox CD box sets or any box set that you may have missed the first time around. There are so many of them out there that just disappear, and today, we’re going to dive into one of my favorite box sets from a band that many people have forgotten about – Spooky Tooth.
The box set in question is ‘The Island Years: An Anthology 1967-1974.’ This is the kind of thing that Esoteric would do now, but this was done by Universal when they were really into creating these kind of CD box sets. You might still be able to find this set at a reasonable price on eBay, and trust me, it’s worth the hunt.
The box set is sturdy, with all the track listings on the back. Inside, you’ll find a series of gatefold sleeves, each containing a disc and boasting a plethora of bonus tracks. The remastering is stunning, breathing new life into these classic tracks.
The first disc in the box set is ‘Art Supernatural Fairy Tales,’ a fantastic piece of psychedelic UK driven rock pop music. This is one of Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath’s favorite albums, and it’s easy to see why. The second disc is Spooky Tooth’s debut album, ‘It’s All About,’ another gem filled with bonus tracks.
One of the standout albums in the set is ‘Spooky Two.’ This album should have launched them into superstardom. It’s one of the best rock albums from this period, with faultless tracks like ‘Waiting for the Wind,’ ‘Feeling Bad,’ ‘I’ve Got Enough Heartaches,’ and ‘Evil Woman.’ The guitar playing by Luther Grosvenor (Ariel Bender)on ‘Lost in My Dream’ is particularly noteworthy.
Unfortunately, the band’s career took a hit with the release of ‘Ceremony.’ They had written the music and then handed it over to some avant-garde French experimental artist to do his stuff. The result was a disaster, with the experimental additions overpowering the Spooky Tooth album. This effectively torpedoed their career.
The band tried to recover with ‘The Last Puff,’ which features one of the best covers of any Beatles song ever done – ‘I Am The Walrus.’ My second favorite Spooky Tooth album is ‘Witness,’ which features Mick Jones from Foreigner on guitar. The set also includes ‘You Break My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw,’ ‘The Mirror,’ and the holy grail for Spooky Tooth fans – a live album from 1973.
The box set also includes a great booklet and a poster from Art. The booklet is filled with tons of information, press cuttings, and fantastic photographs, helping you to almost close your eyes and imagine that you’re there, witnessing this band unfold in front of you.
If you can find this box set, it’s an essential part of your British rock collection. If you don’t want to get the whole set, at least get ‘Spooky Two.’ It’s an absolutely fantastic album that sounds like nothing else. It’s the lost link between Free and Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie – a gritty, soulful rock music from that period.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine