Rhino's nine-volume British Invasion: History of British Rock is the most comprehensive overview of British pop music in the '60s ever assembled. Over the course of nine discs, the series traces the evolution of British pop from Merseybeat through psychedelia to heavy metal and soft-rock. For casual listeners, the set may be a little intimdating, but to any serious pop-rock fan, it's essential, not only for all the classic hits from artists like the Kinks, the Yardbirds, the Small Faces, the Zombies, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and the Hollies, but for one-hit wonders and obscurities. There is so much good music and so many styles that it truly doesn't matter that heavy hitters like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who are missing; besides, by largely concentrating on second-tier acts and one-hit wonders, the series gives an accurate portrait of the shockwaves the Beatles and Stones (and, to a lesser extent, the Kinks, Who, Yardbirds and Small Faces) set off during the '60s. That's particularly true on Vol. 1, which contains more than its fair share of hits in its 20 tracks, including the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," Gerry & the Pacemakers' "How Do You Do It?" and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'," Freddie & the Dreamers' "I'm Telling You Now," the Zombies' "She's Not There," the Swinging Blue Jeans' "Hippy Hippy Shake," Billy J. Kramer's "Bad to Me," Chad & Jeremy's "Yesterday's Gone," the Yardbirds' "For Your Love," the Searchers' "Needles and Pins" and Peter & Gordon's "A World Without Love." There are also a number of singles that went largely unheard outside of Britain, including cuts from the Hullabaloos, the Fourmost, Adam Faith, the Ivy League, Tommy Quickly and the Rockin' Berries, some of which are nothing more than artifacts, but they help put the hits in context. If you need a picture of the first explosions of the British Invasion, this is the disc to get.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine