Though titled The Romany Collection, this is actually pretty much an extended CD reissue of Gypsy's 1971 debut album (titled American Gypsy in the U.K., and English Gypsy in the U.S.) with eight bonus tracks and historical liner notes. The Gypsy album, which is the core of this reissue, was the work of a British band extremely influenced by late- ...
Though titled The Romany Collection, this is actually pretty much an extended CD reissue of Gypsy's 1971 debut album (titled American Gypsy in the U.K., and English Gypsy in the U.S.) with eight bonus tracks and historical liner notes. The Gypsy album, which is the core of this reissue, was the work of a British band extremely influenced by late-'60s Californian folk/psychedelic rock -- more so than almost any other U.K. group you could name, in fact. Why is it, then, that hardly anyone can name Gypsy these days? In short, it's because the album's extremely derivative of Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and especially Moby Grape, particularly in the vocal harmonies. And it's because, while those are good influences to work from, the songs aren't nearly as good as the best work by the aforementioned acts. Some specialists would cavil that it's unfair to hold secondary bands like Gypsy up to such high standards, and that the music should be judged on its own terms. But let's be straight about it: on this particular platter, the similarities are inescapable. The lead vocals often have the gritty tremble characteristic of numerous Moby Grape tracks; the harmonies on "I Don't Care Do You Mind?" are very much in the early CSN&Y style; the guitar soloing on "Turning Wheel" can't fail to recall Neil Young's "Down by the River"; some of the lyrics on "Standing Alone, Feeling So Bad" sound rather like Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul"; and "Pony Ride" is a son (or should that be "grandson"?) of Moby Grape's "Hey Grandma." It's well played and well sung, with some appealing sustained guitar effects, but more originality (and better material) were needed to make something enduring. The bonus tracks include the 1971 non-LP single "Changes Comin'"/"Don't Cry on Me," as well as six previously unreleased tracks recorded around the same time, all mastered from vinyl acetates that result in some audible surface noise, but not so much as to be a serious distraction. These additional cuts are pretty similar in nature to the songs that did end up on the album, though some of them perhaps have a milder, more country-rock-oriented feel. Those same overbearing influences, however, keep cropping up on these tracks, with "It Don't Bother Me" very much akin to the harder-rocking face of Buffalo Springfield, and "What a Day" a dead ringer for early Moby Grape. True, "I Don't Wanna Lose You" and "I Guess She'll Have to Know" would be among the better CSN&Y soundalikes if anyone were to make a list, but that's not enough to qualify Gypsy as notable talents in their own right. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi