The Nightcrawlers

The Little Black Egg [Big Beat]

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At a glance it might be assumed that this is the definitive Nightcrawlers retrospective; after all, it has 24 tracks, by a band that only did a few singles and an album. It does contain everything from their sole LP (also called The Little Black Egg, from 1967) and a few non-LP singles and unreleased cuts. However, there are curious imperfections that prevent this from being a definitive retrospective. The B-side of their first 45, "Marie," isn't here, and more problematically, their 1967 single "My Butterfly"/"Today I'm Happy" is not included, either. Nor does it include the two singles by spin-off band Conlon & the Crawlers. Yes, the back sleeve does note that this has "all the recordings by the original band," which presumably means there was a deliberate decision to exclude all material that did not feature that lineup. The problem is, "My Butterfly" -- an incredibly accurate early Who imitation complete with high harmonies, ringing guitar, and airplane take-off instrumental breaks -- is their best song other than "The Little Black Egg." Both sides of the "My Butterfly" single, and both sides of both Conlon & the Crawlers singles, were included on the Eva LP compilation The Little Black Egg, which had much poorer sound and barely any liner notes (the Big Beat compilation, on the other hand, has a copious group history). The optimum approach would have been to add the 1967 Kapp single and the Conlon & the Crawlers singles in place of the handful of previously unreleased British Invasion/R&B covers that conclude the Big Beat CD. As it is, neither the Eva nor the Big Beat anthologies represent the group's output to collectors' utmost satisfaction, although comments in the liner notes to the Big Beat compilation propose that the missing material is not worthy of comparison to what's heard on this disc. As for what is here, it's mostly pretty thin and forgettable, though periodically engaging, moody garage-folk-rock.

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