Producer Joe Meek is primarily identified with the pre-Beatles era of British rock. However, he did make records until just before his death in early 1967, and he did make some recordings that were in the British Invasion-generated "beat group" style. This 20-track anthology of such material is not definitive, as it doesn't include some bands in the genre that he worked with, like the Riot Squad, David John & the Mood, and the Buzz. However, it's a decent sampling of Meek's efforts with mid-'60s rock bands, varying from wimpy Merseybeat to ferocious mod/R&B. The unquestionable highlights of the discs are the eight tracks (all eight tracks known to exist, actually) by the Syndicats, famous as one of the pre-Yes bands of Steve Howe. Those cuts are good R&B/rock, sometimes very good (like their cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Howlin' for My Baby"). Their most famous cut, "Crawdaddy Simone," is truly unsurpassed in its degree of wild British R&B mayhem, and is, ironically, the one Syndicats song on which Howe does not play. Elsewhere on the CD, the Puppets play reasonably fetching Merseybeat on "Everybody's Talking," and average R&B-rock on their three other cuts. Tony Dangerfield & the Thrills do a weird collision of '50s rock and freakbeat on "She's Too Way Out," and a pop ballad, "I've Seen Such Things," that was largely written by Paul Jones and Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann. The Blue Rondos offer nicely chunky pop-R&B with Meek's trademark ghostly organ and oddly treated percussion. Bobby Rio & the Revelles do average pop songs that, again, sound better than such material should due to Meek's facility for producing unique blends of stinging guitar, thudding percussion, and disembodied-sounding vocals.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
feat: Bobby Rio
feat: Bobby Rio