Joe Meek

Joe Meek Story: The Pye Years

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This is not a definitive Joe Meek compilation -- the Tornadoes' "Telstar" and his other classic indie productions are absent -- but it does gather many of his best and strangest early-'60s recordings for Pye Records. Although the only real hit included is the Honeycombs' immortal, deeply Buddy Holly-influenced "Have I the Right," the other 47 tracks on these two discs are often fascinating. The other Honeycombs tracks include the downright creepy voyeur's tale "Colour Slide," a terrific version of the Kinks' "Something Better Beginning," and the sublime "This Year, Next Year," which deserved to be at least as big as their sole hit. The Blue Rondo's, unfortunate apostrophe aside, turn in a pair of swell beat group entries, while Peter London and Jess Conrad are more in the style of pre-Beatles balladeers. Then there are the really odd songs, like Iain Gregory's "Mr. Lovebug" ("Won't you please bite me?," Gregory beseeches) and "It's Hard to Believe It," an apocalyptic protest song by the underrated Glenda Collins, whose Meek sides are highly prized by some collectors. Not every track is a keeper -- Meek was as capable of dross as he was brilliance -- but the best tracks here amplify and deepen the Meek legend.

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