Various Artists

Scratch My Back: New Rubble, Vol. 5

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The woman-sung wing of the British Invasion was far more oriented toward pop and ballads than the harder-rocking sounds associated with the male U.K. rock groups. There were, however, some records by female artists with tougher rock and soul arrangements and vocals, even if they were hardly on the level of raunchiness (or quality) of the Rolling Stones or Who. This compilation brings together 17 such rare sides from 1964-1970, mostly by names who'll ignite little recognition on either side of the Atlantic, though Billie Davis had a big 1963 hit in the U.K. (not included here). It might be longer on energy than excellent material, but nonetheless it's a good listen, both for the high-voltage performances and the sheer historical interest of hearing a side of 1960s British rock that's rarely been given any attention. And while it's uneven stuff with little in the way of tunes that sound like they should have been hits, there are some good, solid efforts to enjoy; considering how few people pay attention to this subgenre, in fact, it's likely to be the best comp of this sort ever done. Davis' "Whatcha Gonna Do," which sounds more like a tough girl group record than the stereotypical British Invasion one, does seem worthy of hit status. Tammy St. John does the rawest version of "Boys" likely to have been recorded; Tracy Rogers offers a quite good cover of the throbbing "Baby," first done by the underrated male British R&B-pop combo the Sorrows; Alma Cogan, a pre-rock pop singer, does convincing, even propulsive girl group music with "Snakes, Snails, Puppy Dog Tails"; Samantha Jones summons credible blue-eyed soul-pop with "Go Ahead"; and Dawn & the Deejays' "These Are the Things About You" comes about the closest of anything here to the catchy pop/rock commonly associated with British Invasion rock groups. If you want novelty, there's "Sock It to Me" by Judy Carnes, who was famous for dancing with that slogan written on her belly on the Laugh-In TV show.