String Driven Thing - The Early Years (Mark Two)
Ozit, U.K., www.stringdriventhing.com

The slow exhumation of the String Driven Thing catalogue continues apace with the release of The Early Years (Mark Two) (Ozit, U.K., www.stringdriventhing.com), a 26-track collection that fills the vast void that has hitherto represented the group's pre-Charisma career. Originally formed in late 1960s Glasgow by Chris and Pauline Adams and John Mannion, String Driven Thing debuted with a self-titled album on the little-known Concord label. The album offered a lot of promise but little in the way of sales, then the band lurched through close to four years in the wilderness, plugged only by gigs and a long series of demo tapes.

The Early Years plunders both the LP and the demos to paint a vivid picture of the group's development over that period. Ten tracks are lifted from String Driven Thing the liner notes claim these are Adams' personal favourites; in fact, all but two of the original album's tracks are included, before moving on. to three demos from 1967 (the first the band recorded), four more tracks cut with the Strawbs' Dave Cousins as rough drafts for the album and then six further demos that leave the story poised on the edge of the band's major-label promotion.

The set ends with two live numbers recorded just three years ago, as the re-formed String Driven Thing hit the road, and though they do seem just a little out of place, still they offer a suitable wrap-up for an excellent album and one of the few releases this year that really does offer up something special to fans and collectors; the original album has not seen the light of day in more than 35 years, which means even ardent collectors are unlikely to have heard, let alone found, a copy, while the Dave Cousins demos will thrill both Thing fans and Strawbs nuts.

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