Album review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – I’m A Freak Baby 3

Cherry Red Records [release date 25.06.21]

The immortal words of Edgar Broughton – I’m A Freak Baby – have reached their third iteration in Cherry Red’s estimable series of “The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-1973” collections.
Many of the bands featured on this 3 CD, 53 track compilation were on the edge of success, some had just broken through, and some would always be remembered as the ones who didn’t.

The wide ranging title is an elastic description that takes in Britrock spearhead bands Deep Purple, Nazareth, Uriah Heep, UFO, Mott, Thin Lizzy, Free and Trapeze. You can point to many tracks on here and say “this is where it began’.
‘Fat Man’ is taken from Nazareth’s 1971 debut. It led to a second album, with Roy Thomas Baker in the producer’s chair, a tour with Deep Purple, and almost immediately thereafter to ‘Razamanaz’ in 1973. The rest is history.
When Mott The Hoople was trying to make it as a thundering hard rock band, ‘The Moon Upstairs’ was a standout track from their fourth album ‘Brain Capers’, much lauded by the music press, but relatively ignored by the public. (It was later sampled for use in the theme music of wrestler, James Helwig, better known as The Ultimate Warrior in WWE-WWF circles). That lack of commercial success almost led to the band’s breakup, until celebrity fan, David Bowie stepped in with ‘All The Young Dudes’. The rest etc etc.
The raw and raucous ‘I’m A Mover’ from Free’s debut album, one of the first songs written by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers, kicks of the third CD with a wallop and a bang. The band’s hunger for success is almost tangible.
The debut airing of ‘Dazed And Confused’, a live recording of the Yardbirds during Jimmy Page’s membership is here. And of course Page and this song went on to make rock’n'roll history with Led Zeppelin.
And so on. Every track has its own story.

The “Heavy Psych” side gets its place in the sun with tracks from a whole slew of bands who spent their careers bubbling under, although some, like Hawkwind, The Pink Fairies, Spooky Tooth, The Deviants and the Edgar Broughton Band, were bona fide underground stalwarts who made it onto the lower rungs of public consciousness.

Bands with amazing histories: Psych Blues/Rock band,Steamhammer, whose guitarist, Martin Quintetton, wrote ‘Maggie May’ and ‘You Wear It Well’ for Rod Stewart.
Preston band, Stoned Rose, who supported Mott on tour, and whose guitar man, Chris Cross, went on to found Ultravox.
Hard/Prog Rock band Warhorse, formed by ex Deep Purple bassist, Nick Simper, and whose members became an integral part of Rick Wakeman’s English Rock Ensemble.
And of course Geordie, whose singer, Brian Johnson ultimately enjoyed fame and fortune with AC/DC.
And many more.

Lastly, there are numerous amazing tracks here from bands who steadfastly flew below the rock’n'roll radar, but whose names are still alive today, many years after their demise. There’s a thin line between success and failure. ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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