Various Artists - I'm A Freak Baby - A Journey Through The British Heavy & Psych Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - I'm A Freak Baby - A Journey Through The British Heavy & Psych Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72

by Mark Steele Rating:8 Release Date:2016-07-29

It would seem like a mammoth mission was undertaken by Cherry Red Records on this 3CD compilation covering a very potent era in british music, some tracks feature well-known artists, whilst many are either underground or dare we say rare items. Not all songs are featured here, so a further perousal will be needed.

I'm A Freak Baby kicks off on the first disc with the 9 minute charger 'All In Your Mind' by The Stray, it has some classic ingredients three-part harmonies, bubbling bass, clear guitar hooks, and driving drums. Maybe better known for their track 'Magic Potion',  The Open Mind released 'Cast A Spell' as the b-side, it is a definite bright, tight contagious keeper. Chicken Shack beefed up Freddy King's blues jam 'Going Down', whilst Cycle turned out a well-rounded glam rocking 'Father in Time'. Thrusting forth as if a rebel call was issued, The Pink Fairies blast through their no-holds barred anthem 'Do It'. You can just imagine in your mind's eye, the head banging frenzy in session, when these tunes were delivered to a live audience.

The strange vocal warbling of Factory's Andy Qunta over the full on Zeppelin/Sabbath belter 'Time Machine',  is worth listening to alone, it is just as though he was recreating a caught-in-a-time-portal effect. The storming garage epic 'Cherry Red'  by The Groundhogs is full of bite,  tight vocal harmonic lines held down by some rich guitar riffs. The Jimi Hendrix inspired ' Rock My Soul'  could have been Stephen Stills on a lost collaboration with The Experience. The clue is in the name and the unmistakeable sound with Hawkwind Zoo with 'Sweet Mistress Of Pain' as to who they would become. The short-lived act, The Iron Maiden - not the later namesake Heavy Metal legends - released 'Falling' as a single, showed a fairly tight sounding rocking proposition which could have been around longer, was it not for a tour blip.

The second disc gets going via wiley scotsmen, Writing On The Wall, with a quirky to intensely dark clavinet groover 'Bogeyman'. An intense galloper hits you with Deep Purple Mark 2's 'Fireball' certainy placing them among the other big players at the helm of the new sound. It is fair to say with a track such as 'Primitive Man' these underrated proto-stoner rockers named Jerusalem, and also sonic yokefellows Edgar Broughton Band with 'Love In The Rain', deserve at least a mention or two by today's stoner fraternity. Multi-facted dynamics are clear on 'Rhubarb!' by Second Hand, apparently the Polydor label dropped them like a brick, well it is a shame and maybe they saw them as a contender for Led Zeppelin's crown.

The extended jam self-indulgence on Little Free Rock's 'Dream' is clearly another musical lovechild from the Cream/Jimi Hendrix influence that many bands seem to embrace. Although Black Sabbath's disgruntled management were not happy that Iron Claw were producing a similar sound, their track 'Skullcrusher' possesses a potent essence which can found later in the 90's grunge bands such as Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. The Move experienced a line-up reshuffle in ushering in ex-Idle Race-r, Jeff Lynne, which saw Roy Wood handling lead vocal duties. This seemed to have mightily paid off with a UK Top Ten place when they delivered one huge stomper with 'Brontosaurus'. Strong arrangements with funky edging by Dubliner rock trio Skid Row on 'Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You Go',  showcases the exceptional guitar prowess of a young Gary Moore.

The last disc re-introduces us to a classic thumper of influential proto metal, in the form of 'Race With The Devil' by The Gun. A gutsy pre-punk vigour is found in an infectious juggernaut of a tune called 'Ascension Day' by Third World War - there is an open temptation to put this on loud and on repeat. Tabla player and a London underground music afficianado, Sam Gopal got together with a certain Ian Kilminster aka Lemmy, to churn out confident vocals over Indo-Blues rhythmic psych like the transcendent fuzz of 'Escalator'.  Rumbling bass, stingy fuzz guitar, pounding drums on 'Gardens Of My Mind', create a foundation underneath the husky soulful Phil Lynnott-esque  prowess of Alan Mark and Co, better known as The Mickey Finn. Also check out their other equally belting number 'Time To Start Loving You'.

The rapid fire guitar lines and solo of guitarist Jimmy Page, keep the anticipation going on The Yardbird's 'Think About It'. It certainly prepared the way for the heady improvisation jams that would become the staple of Led Zeppelin's first two albums. The mantra infused 'Yellow Cave Woman' by one-album wonders Velvett Fogg, takes you on a journey full of arm-in-arm guitars and organ. The skippy funk groover 'Too Old' by blues-rock trio Andromeda was a John Peel favourite before a change of lineup occurred and eventually folding in 1970 - which has now left a much sought after album years later. Peter Green's nightmare recalling vocals on 'The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)', has a haunting paranoia made that much more valid with the guitar and drums combo. Last but one has B-Side 'Born On The Wrong Side Of Time' with acoustic and electric guitars leading the way by the all Ireland Blues Folk-Rocking trio The Taste, features a teenage Rory Gallagher on guitar.

I'm A Freak Baby, is just the tip of this particular era of the gargantuan rock n roll iceberg. Cherry Red Records have done a grand job to deliver a sampler for those new to the artists and music contained within. However, for those who dare to tread further you may need do some serious online excavating to find the original treasured recordings and further rare specimens that lie within them there hills.

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