The Action

Shadows and Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1964-1968

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The Action are one of the great "lost" bands of mid-'60s England. Though they filled mod clubs with happy patrons and managed to score George Martin as a benefactor, they only released a handful of unsuccessful singles during their brief existence. Most of their music remained in the vaults for years, only to be discovered later and celebrated. After years of reissues that only told part of the band's story, Grapefruit's 2018 Shadows and Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1964-1968 collects everything: their five officially released singles, BBC sessions, their legendary demos from 1967, backing tracks, alternate takes, different mixes, and songs they recorded just before the band broke up in 1968. It's an impressive haul made even better by the excellent liner notes, session information, and crisp sound. The first two discs detail the band's years as Motown-loving mods guided by Reg King's insistent vocals, the group's snappy backing vocals, and Martin's clean production style. The bandmembers were able to nail Motown covers (like "I'll Keep Holding On" and "Since I Lost My Baby") thanks to the tautness of the playing and their vocal prowess. The Action didn't write many originals at the time, though the horn-filled rocker "Twentyfourth Hour" shows they had the skills. The set presents their singles and unreleased songs from 1965 to 1967 in both mono and in excellent new stereo mixes done by Alec Palao (who recently did the same thing for another "lost" band, the Creation). There are also some nice bonuses like backing tracks and a BBC session where they cover the Byrds' "I See You." Disc three has the album they recorded in 1967 to shop around to labels, none of whom were interested. It's hard to see why, since the band's textured and subtly heavy take on psychedelia is so impressive -- certainly not far from what the Pretty Things were doing. All the songs are originals, Reg King comes into his own as an interpreter of lyrics, and the band really stretches out in interesting ways. Plus some of the songs, like "Strange Roads" and "Something to Say," are irresistibly catchy. The sessions came out later in various forms, but too late to do the band any good. Their sessions from 1968 (minus Reg King) also didn't garner any label interest, but they are a fascinating piece of the puzzle all the same. Disc four is a treasure trove for fans. It includes their early beat singles done under the name the Boys, a three-song audition done for Decca, Ready Steady Go! and BBC appearances (one where they cover John Coltrane's "India"), and eight songs remixed by George Martin for 1990's The Ultimate Action. Shadows and Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1964-1968 isn't a collection for the casual fan; it's for diehards who want everything, and Grapefruit provides exactly what these people need. It's thrilling, timeless music from a no-longer-lost band, preserved and presented with care and attention to detail.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:51
2 2:42
3 3:11
4 2:29
5 2:41
6 3:43
7 2:47
8 2:45
9 2:48
10 3:13
11 3:21
12 2:51
13 2:30
14 2:20
15 3:18
16 2:21
17 2:45
18 2:47
19 3:17
20 2:30
21 3:06
22 3:08

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:43
2 2:25
3 3:19
4 3:42
5 2:58
6 2:30
7 3:33
8 2:53
9 3:20
10 2:54
11 3:31
12 2:33
13 3:04
14 2:30
15 3:23
16 3:32
17 3:37
18 3:07
19 2:32
20 2:41
21 2:34
22 2:43
23 3:32
24 3:00

Track Listing - Disc 4

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:17
2 2:19
3 2:27
4 3:03
5 2:42
6 2:48
7 2:23
8 1:20
9 2:41
10 2:57
11 3:03
12 3:39
13 3:40
14 2:45
15 3:14
16 2:55
17 2:21
18 2:37
19 3:29
20 2:52
blue highlight denotes track pick