Joe Meek

Joe Meek's Freakbeat: 30 Freakbeat, Mod and R&B Nuggets

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Joe Meek is most famous for the records he made in the early to mid-'60s, even the best of which usually matched futuristic, one of a kind production with quaint, silly (if sometimes quite catchy) tunes. This has led many critics to charge, with some justification, that trends were passing him by as British Invasion groups with grittier, more creative material overran the globe. It's sometimes overlooked, however, that he made quite a few records with the new generation of self-contained, tougher mod/R&B-oriented British bands in the final two years or so of his life, even if these experienced little commercial success. A whopping 30 such sides from 1964-1966 are assembled on this quite interesting and occasionally thrilling (if uneven) compilation. Generally, Meek was more restrained in leaving his heavy sonic thumbprint on these records than he was with most of his acts, perhaps because the groups were more apt to have their own songs and want to arrange things their own way. You can still hear a lot of Meek in the super-compressed sound, thick-as-a-brick percussive slap, and occasional astral organ, but the tracks aren't as chock-a-block with effects and strangeness as most of the cuts he did with more malleable acts. Fortunately, Meek didn't seem inclined to tame the rough edges off such groups, and quite a lot of uninhibited (if rather uncommercial) R&B/pop raving comes through on these obscure releases, most of which were flops (and some of which weren't even issued at the time). A few of the tracks, in fact, are among the greatest examples of unhinged "freakbeat," bridging British Invasion mod/R&B/pop and psychedelia on vicious, nearly off-the-rails recordings like the Buzz's "You're Holding Me Down," the Syndicats' "Crawdaddy Simone," and Jason Eddie & the Centremen's insanely trilling "Singing the Blues." There are some more standard, but also satisfying, tough R&B-grounded performances too, like David John & the Mood's "I Love to See You Strut" and "Bring It to Jerome," and Heinz & the Wild Boys' "Big Fat Spider" and "I'm Not a Bad Guy," both of which feature some of the most exciting unknown over-the-top guitar solos in all of mid-'60s British rock. While most of the other cuts are less notable, most of them likewise have something to recommend in the way of both eerie production values and tough, crunchy tunes -- and sometimes, a lot to recommend in those categories, as listens to Paul & Ritchie & the Cryin' Shames' "Come on Back," Jason Eddie & the Centremen's "Come on Baby," and the Riot Squad's "I Take It That We're Through" will confirm. Certainly it doesn't have all of the notable work that Meek did in this style. There's nothing by Screaming Lord Sutch, for example, and there are additional sides by Heinz and the Syndicats in this vein well worth hearing. Too, while the Puppets' "Shake with Me" is quite acceptable, it pales next to the killer version cut by Meek with the Outlaws (with Ritchie Blackmore delivering one of the most incredible little-heard guitar solos of the mid-'60s). What's here, though, is a mighty fun listen, and will appeal in almost equal measures to both Meek and British Invasion fanatics. Many of these tracks, incidentally, have previously shown up on other collector-oriented anthologies, going all the way back to the special British edition of the Pebbles series, Pebbles Vol. 6. But they're presented here with better sound quality, and certainly better liner notes, than those compilations often featured.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
feat: The Buzz
03:05
2
02:34
3
feat: Blue Rondos
02:10 Amazon
4
03:16
5
02:27
6
02:46
7
feat: Blue Rondos
02:39 Amazon
8
02:09
9
02:10
10
feat: Saxons
02:19
11
02:45
12
feat: Riot Squad
02:50
13
02:39
14
03:13
15
feat: Riot Squad
02:32
16
02:07
17
02:25
18
02:32
19
feat: Blue Rondos
02:15
20
03:51
21
feat: The Tornados
03:00
22
feat: Impac
02:35
23
feat: The Puppets
02:18 Amazon
24
02:53
25
01:41
26 02:13
27
feat: The Buzz
03:27
28
feat: The Hotrods
02:07
29
02:15
30 02:27
blue highlight denotes track pick