Review: Various Artists, The British Beat: Best of the ’60s
: Best of the 60sThe British Beat is a 57 track, three disc set from Shout! Factory collecting a variety of tracks from UK bands that received substantial airplay in the US during the mid-1960s. Shout! Factory have put out several excellent compilation sets such as the pre-Katrina Doctors Professors Kings & Queens: The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans, The ’60s Rock Experience and The Only Doo-Wop Collection You’ll Ever Need. The British Beat isn’t quite up to the level of these three but it’s not bad.
It won’t come as a surprise that neither The Beatles or The Rolling Stones are represented but a number of other big-name acts are included in the set such as The Kinks (You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night), The Zombies (She’s Not There, Tell Her No, Time of the Season), Donovan (Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, Catch the Wind) and The Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin). Atypical for a collection like this, Nights in White Satin is the full album version and Catch the Wind is the original acoustic version. There is also a nice selection of tracks from bands that introduced a number of musicians who went on to achieve wider recognition after they left the group such as Steve Winwood’s The Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin’, I’m a Man), Graham Nash’s The Hollies (Carrie-Anne, Bus Stop) and The Yardbirds (For Your Love) which eventually produced Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Along with major groups that have had a lasting reputation there are a number of tracks from less remembered bands like The Foundations (Baby, Now That I’ve Found You, Build Me Up Buttercup), The Easybeats (Friday On My Mind), Los Bravos (Black is Black), The Silkie (You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away), Unit 4+2 (Concrete And Clay), The Tremeloes (Silence is Golden) and many more.
While the set contains a wide and varied selection of music there are some surprising omissions. The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Who, Herman’s Hermits and Freddie and the Dreamers (who are mentioned in the accompanying booklet) are all absent. Speaking of the booklet, it’s a waste of paper with limited info about the tracks in the set, a lame fluff “essay” on The British Invasion and a strange collection of pictures that includes three pics of The Walker Brothers and none of The Kinks.
The set doesn’t focus on just one style of UK-produced music which is a good thing. However, that also means listeners are likely to find tracks they remember less than fondly. For my part I would have been happy never to hear Georgie Girl (The Seekers, their I’ll Never Find Another You is also included) again. A fairly large portion of the set is devoted to soft rock/pop artists like Tom Jones (What’s New Pussycat, It’s Not Unusal), LuLu (To Sir With Love), Peter & Gordon (Woman, A World Without Love), Chad & Jeremy (A Summer Song), Petula Clark (Downtown, I Know a Place) and Jonathan King (Everyone’s Gone to the Moon). Going back to this style of music had the unexpected benefit of reintroducing me to Dusty Springfield (I Only Want To Be With You, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Book of Love, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me). I wasn’t into this type of music then and I’m not so interested in the Burt Bachrach style of composition and arrangement now. However, the contemporary British music press reveres Springfield and after a number of years learning about women vocalists from the likes of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan I can hear what they’re raving about. Springfield is an excellent vocalist and I can thank this set for bringing her back to me.
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