Eclectic Avenue is the third of a four-volume set released by BMG Canada in 1990 in an attempt to chronicle, as the cover slogan indicates, "Our Rock and Roll History." Obviously a hopeless task (could RCA's American branch dare to claim that a similarly skimpy set defined U.S. rock & roll?), Eclectic Avenue nonetheless does a surprisingly fine job of covering at least some of the bases. There are a few tracks included solely because participants went on to bigger things, like David Clayton-Thomas' bellowing "Brainwashed," and some songs are obviously there more for their chart positions than their musical worth (the Five Man Electrical Band's eternally lame "Signs"), but there are also plenty of cool garage rock nuggets -- the plains of central Canada, as all good collectors know, were a goldmine of bitchin' garage bands -- like the Paupers' clattering "If I Told My Baby" and the obligatory version of "Gloria" (here by the King Beez), plus oddities like an all but unknown psychedelic single by the Guess Who, "It's My Pride," recorded before they were reborn as the archetypal meat-and-potatoes Canadian rockers, and the early single version of Klaatu's excellent "California Jam." There's chaff, of course, but as always with Canada, the wheat is excellent.
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