Various Artists

The Electric Lemonade Acid Test Vol. 2: An Anthology of the Transatlantic/B

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In the late '60s, the Transatlantic label, most known for British folk, branched out into pop and rock music to a moderate extent, sometimes on its singles label Big T, sometimes on LPs that remained on the Transatlantic imprint. This compilation collects 14 tracks from such releases, some of them from quite rare 45s, others from more widely known LPs. It proves that Transatlantic was diverse in its rock explorations, from folk-rock and psychedelia to pop music that borrowed from both forms. At the same time, however, there isn't much on here that's outstanding, and the most durable stuff has long been available on other reissues. Beyond a doubt, the major treasure here is the Pentangle's debut single, the fine, mild, folk-rocking group original "Travellin' Song," which didn't make it onto LP at the time and has somehow escaped CD reissue (though a live version of it did make it onto the expanded Sweet Child re-release). Yet it must be pointed out that about half the songs here -- specifically, the Pentangle's "Light Flight" (an actual small hit British single) and the ones by the Purple Gang, the Deviants, and the Sallyangie (featuring the teenage Mike Oldfield as half of a folk duo with his sister Sally Oldfield) -- have been easily available on other reissues. Presumably, too, the kind of customer likely to spring for something so arcane as a Transatlantic odds'n'ends compilation in the first place is pretty likely to already have those songs in his/her collection. As it turns out, those are the most interesting tracks on the album, too, whether it's the ace folk-rock of the Pentangle, the scruffy but effective psychedelia of the Deviants (particularly on "First Line (Seven the Row)," with its great Yardbirds-like guitar solo), the jug band vaudeville of the Purple Gang's "Granny Takes a Trip," or the precious, almost folk-rock of the Sallyangie. What's left is a baker's half-dozen of competent but rather unmemorable late-'60s British rock, representative of a few of its sub-branches, like the Manfred Mann-ish pop of 1984's "This Little Boy," Ola's obviously "A Whiter Shade of Pale"-inspired "What a Way to Die," or the moderately pleasant psychedelic pop of the Movement's "Head for the Sun." David Wells' liner notes are excellent, though. Note that this is a limited edition of 1,000 copies, available in LP only.