Tracking Darryl Read's musical journeys from Crushed Butler's proto-punk to the left-field goth of Beat Existentialist has been a tricky affair, since he's often lacked a domestic deal. Collectomatic, Vol. 1 allows Read to revisit the more obscure corners of his musical history (while satisfying the demand for compilations that seems essential to the British buyer's psyche). Two unreleased 1975-1976 demos get things rolling in fine style. "On the Streets Tonight" is a declamatory call to arms featuring truly crazed licks by former Silverhead guitarist Steve Forest; "Backstreet Urchin" celebrates the "underground merchant" so essential to countercultural lore. Read makes imaginative use of contrasting tempos on 1977's "Shoot Your Dad," while his mod sensibilities power "High Rise Angry Young Man," another unreleased recording from 1981. Other noteworthy obscurities include a funky, slow-burning cover of the Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire," which first graced the A-side of a German-only single. An alliance with former T. Rex keyboardist Dino Dines and guitarist Miller Anderson proved equally fruitful, yielding an impassioned take on Marc Bolan's don't-give-a-damn ballad "Teenage Dream." The same crew proved equally capable of "Hard On Love," a Read original that chugs along in the rude glam spirit of Bolan. Compilations are always revealing for what artists leave in or out. Read has long been preoccupied with freedom, or lack thereof -- an integral theme of his Book of the Dead and Beat Existentialist albums, which get five tracks between them here. "The Devil in Black Leather" salutes the extraordinary rockabilly wildman Gene Vincent, and it's not a stretch to imagine Jim Morrison warbling "Down to Marseilles" doom-laden balladry. A generously illustrated, 20-page booklet outlines the story of each song, and rounds off an ideal one-stop introduction to Read's output.
AllMusic Review by Ralph Heibutzki