Various Artists

20 Original Mod Classics

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Was the soundtrack for the British '60s mod movement made by American soul or U.K. guitar rock bands? That depends on whom you ask, but this 20-track compilation covers both bases in roughly equal measures. With a few (but not many) hits, and a few tracks that don't quite fit into either of the categories, it's the kind of thing that'll basically please most people due to its generally strong selection, but will totally please few. If you're not a dedicated collector or categorizer, however, it's a pretty good listen, though lacking much that's too hard to find elsewhere, even if several of the tracks were quite obscure in their time. On the U.S. soul side, you get acknowledged classics from James Brown ("Night Train") and Marvin Gaye ("Can I Get a Witness"), as well as some good secondary Motown tunes (especially the Marvelettes' "I'll Keep on Holding On"); expatriate British-produced soul on P.P. Arnold's ("If You Think You're) Groovy"; and one genuine obscurity in Yvonne Baker's "You Didn't Say a Word," an otherwise average midtempo soul recording built around a James Bond-ish riff. On the U.K. rock side, aside from one British hit (the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier"), there are items by the Eyes and the Fleur de Lys that will be familiar to the '60s rock collector if little known to the general public, as well as interesting if non-earthshaking pre-stardom efforts by Rod Stewart, David Bowie, and Alex Harvey. Tony Jackson & the Vibrations' gutsy "Fortune Teller," recorded after the leader had left the Searchers, is a noteworthy inclusion (if not as hard to find elsewhere as you might think), and some British blue-eyed soul makes the cut with Timebox's "Beggin'" and Dusty Springfield's "Little by Little."

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