Various Artists

Rare 60's Beat Treasures, Vol. 5

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Many, many records were released by British rock acts during the British Invasion that never made an impression on either side of the Atlantic. Rare 60s Beat Treasures Vol. 5 is the point where this series -- never exactly stuffed with killer rarities (or even rare rarities, if you count other British Invasion rarity compilation reissues) -- becomes of real value only to the collector determined to get everything he or she can from the style, rather than one who actually wants to hear some good British Invasion music. That's because a lot of these tracks are pretty dispensable, and if not near the bottom layer of the genre, close to it. It's not just that some of the acts are pretty derivative without adding anything to the early American rock & roll that's their obvious inspiration, including some names that will be known to British Invasion scholars, like Mickie Most (more famous as a producer), Kingsize Taylor, one-time Searcher Tony Jackson, and Freddie Starr, the last three of whom played the same Merseyside circuit as the Beatles. It's also that the songwriting is often so weak as to skirt the puerile. A few tracks here and there are enjoyably passable, the best of these being the Hellions' very strong Mersey-style "Shades of Blue" (though that song was done better by the Rockin' Berries). This is also a place where you can hear the B-side of the only single the Strangers with Mike Shannon did besides "One and One Is Two," the most obscure song John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave away to another artist in the mid-'60s.

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