When it first appeared in 1967, With Love: A Pot of Flowers was an enigmatic relic of the early San Francisco psychedelic rock scene, comprised of a dozen tracks by groups that never made a national impact. The 2010 CD reissue on Chiswick does much to make its place in the history of San Francisco rock more comprehensible, due both to the addition of 14 bonus tracks (more tracks, in fact, than were on the original LP itself) and compiler Alec Palao's customarily thorough and lengthy historical liner notes. These explain how the Mainstream label made a concerted effort to get into the action of the early San Francisco Bay Area rock scene in the mid-'60s, resulting in the numerous recordings by the obscure bands on this CD, though none of the groups they signed would make it big save one (Big Brother & the Holding Company, who are not represented on the compilation). While the hope was, of course, to have hits, viewed from a distance it's almost like a documentary snapshot of some of the more notable bands that never made it, and indeed might have rarely or never gotten inside a recording studio if not for Mainstream's interest.
All that noted, the dozen songs on the original LP (presented as the first 12 tracks on this CD) are more typical early San Francisco rock than they are brilliant, often showing more of a garage rock influence than a psychedelic one. There's also a folk-rock feel, especially in the tracks by Wildflower, with some echoes of the Byrds and the Beau Brummels, though the trademark bittersweetness of the San Francisco sound is part of the mix too. The Harbinger Complex's "My Kind and Dear Sir," in contrast, sounds something like a mid-‘60s, country-rock Kinks, and is a standout in both its quality and its relatively unusual approach in these surroundings. The 14 bonus tracks are a mixture of rare singles on the Mainstream label and its Brent subsidiary, along with some unissued cuts and mono single versions of songs from the original LP. While these generally aren't up to the level of the cuts on the original album, they have their moments, especially the New Dawn's "Slave of Desire," one of the most accurate Animals imitations ever (though it borrows quite liberally from the Animals' "Inside Looking Out"). Other sides among the bonus material are yet even more raw and more undeveloped than those in the main program, with future Big Brother & the Holding Company singer Kathi McDonald taking lead vocals on Thee Unusuals' "I Could Go On."
item # 35513