Walking through whatever record stores are still left on the planet, I often find myself thumbing through a random section and thinking about the artists who recorded all the albums. The great majority of them didn’t achieve any great degree of fame, and the ones whose album is still readily available might be considered the lucky ones. A staggering amount of music, representing the depth of any genre or time period, is simply lost to history.
The history of music should not be painted with the broad brush of mass success. It is precisely for this reason that compilations like The Electric Asylum Volume One: Rare British Acid Freakrock are invaluable. The twenty tracks included on the album are not only significant artifacts from a bygone era, but serve as proof of just how much excellent music is languishing in the dustbin of obscurity.
Any discussion of the British psychedelic scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s is dominated by the Beatles and Pink Floyd, which is fair from a historical standpoint. To the victors go the spoils. That doesn’t, however, mean that the conversation needs to end with those two bands. Each song on The Electric Asylum is listenable, and surprisingly enough for a compilation that collects twenty different bands, the album forms a nicely coherent whole. The tracks nicely evoke the time period being chronicled, especially with regard to the general weirdness of the era. “Jeckyll & Hyde,” which leads off the album, is missing only a spooky spoken word interlude, but even that omission is remedied a few tracks later on “Night of the Fly.” Interspersed with the trippy lyrics and a few token flute solos is solid instrumental backing. None of the songs is exactly a revelation, but taken as a whole the collection more than stands the test of time.
If noting else, The Electric Asylum Volume One: Rare British Acid Freakrock makes a credible case for preserving more than just the agreed upon high points of popular music’s varied history.