Various Artists

60s: The Essential Album

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There's a good share of fine music on this 22-track compilation of '60s British rock and pop. But so much of it had already been recycled so often by the time of this 2004 release that it had little value to seasoned collectors. Too, its lack of a strong connecting theme made it of limited use to novices, who could find much better anthologies through which to get acquainted with this music and these artists. That's not to say there aren't some great classic hits here, including the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Donovan's "Colours," Petula Clark's "Downtown," Desmond Dekker's "Israelites," Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men," the Move's "Blackberry Way," the Small Faces' "Lazy Sunday," and Fleetwood Mac's "Man of the World." There are, as well, tracks that might not be 100 percent classic, but are pretty darned good, like the Foundations' "Baby Now That I've Found You," the Tremeloes' "Silence Is Golden" (actually a cover of a Four Seasons B-side), and the Searchers' "Sweets for My Sweet." There are also a number of U.K. hits that won't be too familiar to the American audience, though alas these tend to be among the less impressive picks of the batch, like the Overlanders' cover of the Beatles' "Michelle"; Long John Baldry's treacly ballad "Let the Heartaches Begin"; Amen Corner's "(If Paradise Is) Half of Nice"; Chris Farlowe's interpretation of the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time"; Marmalade's identikit cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"; Blue Mink's "Melting Pot"; and Alan Price's "Simon Smith & His Amazing Dancing Bear," an early Randy Newman composition. David Bowie's here too, but his 1966 B-side "Good Morning Girl," though not awful, was very far from either a hit record or an essential recording; presumably it's appeared on so many anthologies due to its licensability rather than its musical merit.

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