Various Artists

Immediate Mod Box Set

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In the CD era, the 1960s Immediate label catalog has been packaged innumerable times, sometimes to the extent that it seems there will be no end to the tenuous concepts devised to hang an Immediate compilation around. This three-CD compilation is one of the more labored such efforts. It's frustrating to collectors in that it does include some fine music, and some rarities, but not really enough of either to make you feel good about laying out the cash for it. That's particularly true when you consider that many people interested in this stuff in the first place are bound to have a good percentage of the material already. On its own terms, it's an interesting if highly erratic survey of almost all British mid-'60s rock styles. In particular, the Mockingbirds' haunting, Yardbirds-like "You Stole My Love" (written by young group member Graham Gouldman), the Poets' hypnotically gloomy "Some Things I Just Can't Forget," and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers' blistering non-LP cuts "I'm Your Witchdoctor" and "On Top of the World" (both with Eric Clapton) are among the very best British singles of the era that failed to become hits. Immediate collectors and British Invasion fans in general will already be familiar with the music of Mayall, P.P. Arnold, the Small Faces, Amen Corner, and Chris Farlowe, and while none of those artists are represented by their big hits, at least this anthology presents some less obvious choices from their work. That leaves a bunch of items by far more obscure artists, and while some of them are decent and many of them are rare, in truth not many of them are memorable. Among the better entries in that field are the decent girl group pop of Van Lenton's "You Don't Care"; the propulsive organ jazz-soul-rock of Jimmy Scott on the lengthy instrumental "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da Story (Part II)," and a young Tony McPhee's decent soul-pop cover of Bo Diddley's "You Don't Love Me," years before he led the Groundhogs to fame. The Fleur De Lys and the Australian Playboys do decent mod rock that's been appreciated by serious collectors for decades. Some other rarities, however, aren't as enticing as they might seem on first glance. Goldie, aka Genya Ravan (lead singer of Goldie & the Gingerbreads, and later lead singer of Ten Wheel Drive, and a solo artist), does a Graham Gouldman cover on "Headlines," but the song is surprisingly mediocre; the great composer Mort Shuman does an unnecessary cover of "Monday Monday," and actor Murray Head's "She Was Perfection" (penned by the singer himself) isn't anything remarkable. A bunch of fairly second-rate pop and soul tunes fills out a set that doesn't quite justify its length.

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