[1 February 2011]
From the first volume onward, Past & Present’s The Electric Asylum series has suffered from a musical identity crisis. Early ‘70s hard rock, proto-prog and late mod-rock arrivals were placed together under the umbrella banner of acid / freakrock. Although the acid’s been dropped from this final installment’s subtitle, the problem remains—the majority of the groups here would have been better served if “junkshop glam” had appeared somewhere on the cover instead.
Apart from a passing mod shot of rhythm and blues from Liverpool’s Colonel Bagshot, two slices of percussive voodoo freakery (Iron Horse, Dunno), a touch of funky orch-pop (Life) and some what’s-this-knob-for hard rocking by Now, the rest of these tracks rock on in five-inch platform shoes.
Sadly, not everything that glitters is gold. For every worthy rarity included such as Boston Boppers’ excellent glam-rock powder-puff-pounder “Whirlwind Girl” and Hector’s sparkling powerpop gem “Ain’t Got Time”, there’s the dire novelty glam cash-in on “Boy On the Ball”, co-written by none other than Giorgio Moroder, and the glam-psych-pop gobbledygook of Dawn Chorus’ “Electric Garden”.
Overall, this is a mixed bag of early ‘70s rarities worth seeking out for the obsessive collectors among us and the more adventurous casual listener.