Various Artists

Ready Steady Go: The Countdown Records Story

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Countdown Records existed between 1985 and 1987 and served as one of the cornerstones of the mod revival in England. Financed by the legendary Stiff Records, Countdown is probably best-known (if remembered at all) as the home of Makin' Time, the first band of Martin Blunt of the Charlatans. Indeed, there are three tracks by them included among the 23 that make up Ready Steady Go: The Countdown Records Story. The best band on the label was the Prisoners; their hard-edged and energetic sound stands as a lone beacon of melody and authenticity. Their tough take on the Small Faces' "Don't Burst My Bubble" and the bubbling and shiny "Wish the Rain" put the rest of the songs here to shame. In fact, the rest of the bands collected here are pretty awful. From the staid and mannered R&B of Fast Eddie (whose version of "My Babe" is truly atrocious) to the loud and remedial guitar overload of Long Tall Shorty, the bland horn and organ sound of Stupidity, and the sub-Haircut 100 cuteness of the Alljacks (not to mention the boring and forced sounding Makin' Time), there is a distinct lack of memorable songs here. Only the Kick provide any relief from the mediocre boredom with their charming British Invasion-styled take on the Hollies' hit "I Can't Let Go." The '80s mod revival is not one of the highlights of rock history, and Ready Steady Go is definitely proof of that fact. Don't be fooled by the eye-catching design or the possibility of discovering lost gems; this disc is just not worth your time. Better to listen to the Small Faces or the Action again.

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