Let's Take a Sea Cruise with the Breakaways!

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Although the New Zealand band the Breakaways did release an LP in 1966 titled Let's Take a Sea Cruise with the Breakaways!, this CD, a little confusingly, is actually a 29-track anthology drawn from their 1960s output, rather than being a straight reissue of that 1966 album. It doesn't quite include everything from their two LPs and half-dozen singles, but it comes pretty close. Though the Breakaways (initially known as Bari & the Breakaways) had their place in New Zealand rock history as one of the first bands to take their inspiration from the tougher side of the British Invasion, as a listening experience, this collection isn't very exciting. The simple reason is this: all but a half-dozen or so of the tracks are covers, mostly of songs learned from British Invasion bands and rock & roll oldies. None of them equal or better the originals, as you'd expect, but they don't come close enough to make them too interesting, either. The choice of material testifies to the band's taste, including as it does some items that likely weren't very well known in New Zealand, like the Who's "I Can't Explain," the Pretty Things' "Roslyn," and the Kinks' "I Got That Feeling." A few songs here and there don't opt for covers of well-known tunes, and these aren't bad, like "Despair," which is a little like Ray Davies' more pop-oriented early Kinks compositions, and the engaging folk-blues-Merseybeat-like "Perhaps I'll Settle Down." Yet overall, it's something of a document of a band that must have been very competent at exposing this kind of music to a New Zealand audience without much access to the original performers, but certainly not too interesting in their own right.