Keith Allison is a talented guy who has worked with some of the biggest names in rock & roll, but he owes his solo career to simple good luck. In 1965, Texas-born Allison was at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles hoping to get paid for a demo session he played on for Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart when someone spotted him and thought he'd look good on television. That of all things led to a regular gig on ABC-TV's rock music show Where the Action Is! and a record deal with Columbia. In Action: The Complete Columbia Sides Plus! features Allison's 1967 album In Action in its entirety, along with 12 bonus tracks from singles he cut for Columbia and Amy Records between 1966 and 1970. Allison was a fine singer, a solid guitarist, and a gifted songwriter, but he doesn't get much of a chance to show off the latter on his album; while he penned one of the best of its 11 songs, "Freeborn Man," in tandem with Mark Lindsay (it's a country-flavored tune good enough that Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin both recorded it), the rest are covers that offer up a cross section of what was happening in pop at the time -- two Monkees covers, two Donovan tunes, several numbers about cars and girls, and a smattering of well-scrubbed R&B for seasoning. The arrangements are sharp and Allison's voice is clear and versatile, with his faint Texas accent adding a nice twist to the songs. However, it's the single sides that feature the most interesting material (all in punchy mono that sounds tighter than the more spacious stereo mixes on the album); "Glitter and Gold" and "I Ain't Blamin' You" are teen pop with some real grit, "Look at Me" and "Everybody" give Allison room to show off his songwriting chops, and "Who Do You Love" and a medley of "Johnny B. Goode" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" demonstrate he had a firm command of rock & roll basics. A year after In Action was released, Allison joined Paul Revere & the Raiders, and since then he's worked with everyone from Harry Nilsson to Alice Cooper, but this disc shows Allison clearly had the goods for a solo career, even if his sales figures suggested otherwise.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming