By Dave Thompson
It has to be said: The name Patrick Campbell-Lyons is a lot better known today than it ever was during the period he covers in this book… and he has Nirvana to thank for that. No, not the late 1960s psych-whimsy band that Campbell-Lyons himself fronted through several years of unremitting obscurity, but the 1990s grunge act whom he famously chased through sundry legal hoops, on behalf of everybody who was ever likely to confuse two Englishmen strumming “Rainbow Chaser” with three Americans yowling “Rape Me.”
Since that time, with the headlines naturally creating a new wave of interest in a band who, quite honestly, nobody even remembered anymore, the “original” Nirvana have become something of a growth industry, reissuing their original catalog and allowing Campbell-Lyons to march forward with a whole new career. And, all cynicism aside, that’s a damned good thing. Because “Psychedelic Days” represents that rarest of beasts, a book about the swinging ’60s that does seem to remember being there.
It is, first and foremost, autobiography, but one that intersects some remarkable lives and events. Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones were in Nirvana’s orbit, and so was Salvador Dali. There is also an excellent accounting of the birth of Island Records, probably the most significant of all U.K. attempts to catalog and choreograph the progressive rock movement of the age, and definitely one of the most interesting record company stories of the age.
True, it does get a little wearying in places, as Campbell-Lyons does his best to inflate his contributions to the age into something we feel we should care about. At the same time, however, the impression that he deserved a lot more fame and attention than he received is hard to shake, and you come out of his thin but galloping narrative with convinced that maybe fame really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes simply being there is reward enough.
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