While it may well seem as if any obscure, semi-talented twit who ever managed to scrape together a band during the ‘60s gets his or her 15 minutes of fame nowadays, this new box set from Rhino actually proves that there were dozens of bands in England—indeed, from all over the world—that rightfully deserve a second listen. Or, more accurately in the case of us Americans, a first listen.
Among the four loaded-to-the-brim CDs are such titles as “My White Bicycle,” by Tomorrow (featuring future Yes guitarist Steve Howe), once referred to as “the quintessential British psychedelic single” by some now forgotten rock magazine; the absolutely great “Madman Running Through the Field,” by Dantalion’s Chariot (which boasted legendary vocalist Zoot Money and pre-Police guitarist Andy Summers—"Somers” in the credits—among its membership); “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” and “Fire Brigade,” both pop-rockers by The Move (which for better or worse eventually birthed Electric Light Orchestra); and on and on. Best of all, perhaps, is Fire’s “Father’s Name Was Dad"—funny lyrics, a driving riff, and an inescapable melody.
Even with all the great British groups, some of the most enjoyable and compelling material in this set comes from decidedly more international bands. Japan’s The Mops gets that itchy, L.A. garage band psychedelic sound exact, even if their English is a bit spotty; from Iceland, “My Life” by Thor’s Hammer literally hammers out a throbbing bass beat while a brittle fuzz guitar shatters against everything; from the Netherlands, an early incarnation of Golden Earring ("-rings” here) performs the pointed “Daddy, Buy Me a Girl"; and Uruguay’s Los Shakers almost outdoes the Liverpool Lads themselves with the energetic, cleverly chorded “Break It All.”
This whole thing retails for only about $60 and comes with a colorful, über-researched book featuring photos, bios, and even a groovy map of "Swinging ‘60s" London pinpointing all the hot clubs and discotheques. Worth owning.