Mod Classics: 1964-1966

Georgie Fame

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Mod Classics: 1964-1966 Review

by Richie Unterberger

For someone who was so popular at the height of the British Invasion, Georgie Fame's mid-'60s catalog has been surprisingly patchily served on CD, with the exception of best-of compilations. This 24-track anthology doesn't totally fill the gap, but does much to deepen the available selection of Fame's material from the era beyond the hits. True, the hits collections are better than this compilation, which is missing such top-flight smashes as "Yeh Yeh," "Get Away," and "Sittin' in the Park." But you're not turning to this CD for those hits; you're searching for something beyond the most commonly reissued early Fame cuts, of which this disc presents a generous heap. The emphasis is on soul and R&B covers, a few of which rank among the best recordings he ever made, especially the Mose Allison-goes-R&B of "Get on the Right Track Baby," the actual Allison cover "Parchman Farm," the jazzy rendition of Gene McDaniels' "Point of No Return," and his little-known mid-sized 1965 U.K. hit "Something" (written by John Mayall, though Mayall didn't record it). But if some of the rest verges on more typical organ-based R&B with a Fame spin, with just two original compositions in the lot, it's still good, and never less than competent. The likes of Rufus Thomas, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, William Bell, and Sam Cooke all get the Fame treatment here, with some outings into less-expected territory on covers of Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away," Hank Williams' "Move It on Over," and Oscar Brown and Nat Adderley's "Work Song." While the bulk of the cuts come from 1964 and 1966 LPs, there are some other rarities on offer from EPs and 45s, like Booker T. & the MG's' instrumental "Outrage" (from a 1965 B-side), one of the best showcases for his organ. There's also an outtake, a version of Earl Van Dyke's snazzy instrumental "Soul Stomp," that previously appeared only on a 2006 Japanese reissue.

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