Various Artists Insane Times: 25 British Psychedelic Artyfacts From the EMI Vaults Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Lightweight, ephemeral fluff, though, like any fashion from a bygone era, not entirely...

Sid Smith 2007

Novelty has always equalled sales. In the mid-60s when the UK blues beat boom gave way to bells, beads and flower power wafting over from San Francisco, the biz was quick to follow.

For some, opening the doors of perception was genuinely embraced as a means of expanding the mind. However, for most of the corny curios collected here, it was about trying to expand the wallet by cashing in on a craze. Amongst the heady scent of incense was the inevitable whiff of exploitation.

This album cites The Beatles at the epicentre of UK psychedelia, but for every Sgt. Pepper leading the parade there follows a conscript army of no-hope duds. In 90% of cases, strip away the wah-wah guitar, sultry sitar, backwards sounds and spaced out vocals, and what you’re left with is awkward, sub-standard pop bereft of original ideas.

The promising beginning of Rainbow Ffolly’s “Sun Sing” shamelessly lifts the bridge from “Day Tripper”, whilst The Idle Race rip off The Who on “Hurry Up John.” The verses of Yardbirds’ “Think About It” appear to be based on the 1940s novelty song “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” Provincial covers band Trendsetters Ltd grab their last-gasp regeneration as The Brain, releasing the wince-inducing, “Nightmares In Red” – a bit like The Goons, but lacking wit or style. Were they having a laugh? Well, somebody was.

The psychedelic era has long been mined by prospectors looking for treasure, but with a only few genuine gems here and there, a huge chunk of it turns out to be fools gold: pretty but pretty worthless. The real value is charting the pre-underground/progressive careers of characters such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and those who would form King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, ELO, Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, etc. Like a lot of anthologies of this period, Insane Times is lightweight, ephemeral fluff, though, like any fashion from a bygone era, not entirely devoid of its period patina and charm.

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