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Compendium - The Fontana Trinity (Box Set)

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Album Review

The very good news: Compendium: The Fontana Trinity crams selections from the Lilac Time's first three albums onto two CDs, in addition to scattering a rather thorough collection of stray tracks from singles released during the same period, between 1987 and 1990. An extremely attractive package, longtime fans will love to own most of the Lilac Time's Fontana output with updated sound. Each of the three records — 1987's The Lilac Time, 1989's Paradise Circus, and 1990's & Love for All — are represented liberally, with over half of their songs included. Fans will also love to have strong non-album material that has been out of print for over a decade. Compendium also works as a great introduction for newcomers, as it does more than just offer a selection of the group's most accessible material. And by listening to this in its entirety, one gets a rather full picture of what the Lilac Time were about in their earliest and most productive stage. The somewhat irritating news: The key word is scatter. You'd think that the logical thing to do with a compilation like this would be to simply sequence the material in chronological fashion. This rationale wasn't applied — the sequence resembles what happens when you hit the shuffle button on your CD changer. Unless listeners want to go through the cumbersome task of programming their players, they won't get an idea of how the band developed throughout the four years covered here. Regardless of that problem, there's no doubting that the Lilac Time's complete ignorance of pop trends paid off in the long run; their tastefulness for classy pop runs much deeper than the Nick Drake-referencing band name.


Formed: 1987 in Cornwall, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Following a brief solo career under both his own name and the moniker Tin Tin, Stephen Duffy put together the Lilac Time, which traded in his former synth pop excursions for pastoral, folky English pop strongly recalling Skylarking-era XTC. Joined by Mickey Harris, Nick Duffy, and Michael Giri, Duffy crafted several eclectic albums making use of traditional instruments, beginning with a self-titled debut in 1988. Released in 1989, Paradise Circus offered a bit of country & western influence, which...
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Compendium - The Fontana Trinity (Box Set), The Lilac Time
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