Confusingly, this collection of very early Alex Harvey material is entirely different (with the exception of the track "Reelin' and Rockin'") from the album that's also titled Alex Harvey and His Soul Band on Polydor. The 1964 Polydor Alex Harvey and His Soul Band was, with the exception of "Reelin' and Rockin'," a live recording; this identically titled anthology, though recorded in the same era (1963-1964), is entirely comprised of studio cuts. Although this is second-division early British R&B, it's a very worthy compilation of an engaging performer who wasn't too original, and not the greatest singer in the world, but possessed of contagious enthusiasm. All but three of the songs were previously unreleased -- 14 of the 20, in fact, were cut at a single session in August 1964, and could be said to be the lost early Alex Harvey album. The Soul Band (personnel unlisted, unfortunately) really bash it out, especially the drummer, who plays with the kind of reckless abandon you might expect from Viv Prince of the Pretty Things or very early Keith Moon. In addition to some frantic covers of familiar material like "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Parchman Farm," Harvey also offers some quite competent R&B/rockers in the same style. The cover of "Shakin' All Over" is gloriously wild, and he builds up a good head of steam on "Sticks and Stones" too. The "soul" element, perhaps, is provided by the wailing sax, which makes this a bit different than many similar British R&B combos of the period, although there's some rave-up guitar and harmonica as well. There's also a curious brace of songs seemingly intended as a sellout commercial single: the calypso-ish "The Canoe Song" and the execrable weepie "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot."
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger