Various Artists: The Electric Asylum Volume 5: Rare British Freakrock

Various Artists
The Electric Asylum Volume 5: Rare British Freakrock
Past & Present

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.

RATING 5 / 10