Various Artists

British Are Coming [2003/DVD-Audio]

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AllMusic Review by

There is one erroneous track on this DVD-Audio (what's supposed to be Donovan's "Catch the Wind" turns out to be "To Try for the Sun"), and casual purchasers are likely to be at least slightly disappointed by the mistake. Lord knows, however, the wrong track's homo-erotic subject matter is more daring than anything else on this compilation of mostly U.K. 1960s hits, interspersed with a pair of major U.S. British Invasion hits and a handful of later numbers that did, in fact, chart on this side of the Atlantic (even if their principal impact was in England). Taken on its own terms, British Are Coming isn't a bad disc -- it's just not a great one. British Are Coming is roughly the DVD-Audio equivalent of one of Rhino Records' old British Invasion volumes -- one of the later discs in that series, actually, as there's not much here from 1964-1965 that was widely heard in the United States. This DVD-Audio title also differs somewhat from its similarly named CD equivalent, lacking the Kinks' numbers that were on the latter. Apart from the Searchers' "Love Potion Number Nine" and "Sugar and Spice," there are no top-rank British Invasion-era acts or songs present, though there are some second-tier acts, like the Rockin' Berries and the Sorrows, and also some good music by a brace of top U.K. artists (the Foundations, the Alan Price Set); they're rounded out by one future star (David Bowie doing "I Dig Everything") and a handful of British-only stars such as the Tremeloes ("There Goes My Baby," "Silence Is Golden"), Marmalade ("Reflections of My Life"), Status Quo ("Pictures of Matchstick Men"), and Mungo Jerry ("In the Summertime"), who managed to chart sides over here; and there's one early-'60s classic, "Telstar" by the Tornados (whose name is misspelled on this release), which -- and this is a tribute to producer Joe Meek -- may well be the best-sounding cut here. There's a pretty good onscreen essay by Colin Escott that would have been even better as part of an insert booklet, mostly owing to how difficult it is to access (playing the disc is easy, but reaching the menu isn't). As for the sound, the Pye Records sides here do have a much more substantial middle and bass sound, and the stereo versions get a bit of a boost from the 5.1 surround sound setting. Overlooking the track error and the difficulty in accessing the bonus materials, this is a pleasant disc, if not a surprising one, and its "weaknesses" might even prove a strength for the casual listener -- they may find such lesser-known U.K. acts as the Rockin' Berries, the Alan Price Set, and the Sorrows, as well as overlooked stars like the Tremeloes and the Marmalade, very diverting. The DVD-Audio format, however, is waiting for a more solid British Invasion showcase from, say, EMI, that would encompass the Hollies, Manfred Mann, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, Peter & Gordon, and more, or from Universal that would feature the Moody Blues, the Small Faces, Marianne Faithfull, and Brian Poole & the Tremeloes.