The Tornados

Telstar: The Original Sixties Hits of the Tornados

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This is the kind of compilation that EMI later became well known for, pairing off A- and B-sides, and it's probably the best way to follow the development of the Tornados on a single CD, although the tracing is a bit difficult, owing to the fact that the order is a bit shuffled. The producers have elected to put the group's first and biggest hit, "Telstar," out in front with its B-side and shift the group's failed preceding single, "Popeye Twist" b/w "Love and Fury," to the final two slots on the 18-song CD. Everything else is more or less in chronological order, although they've busted up the order of the U.K. singles by inserting the U.S.-generated single "Ridin' the Wind" into the lineup, but as it's similar to "Telstar," no one's likely to mind. It's fascinating to try and perceive (and understand) the differences between the two countries' audiences and airwaves -- while "Ridin' the Wind," for all of its similarities to "Telstar," only reached number 63 on the U.S. charts, tracks like "Globetrotter," "Robot," and "The Ice Cream Man" shot well into the Top 20 (or even the Top Ten) in England and stayed on the charts for months; oddly enough, the latter instrumental bears some similar characteristics to an Elvis Presley hit, the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman-authored "His Latest Flame," which had charted two years earlier. Beyond this point in their history, the group's fortunes turned decidedly downward, due to the departure of various key members, starting with bassist Heinz Burt, though their sound remained intact, and a lot of what's here is nothing less than gorgeous. "Dreamin' on a Cloud," "Honey Pot," "Joystick," and others all display the group's distinctive metallic/melodic sound, built around memorable hooks and strong playing; but despite the quality of their work, one gets the sense that after 1963 they were being outmanned and outgunned by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, and such bands for the attention of listeners and space on the airwaves. Contrary to what the notes claim, the one odd LP track in their output, "All the Stars in the Sky" from the movie (and soundtrack album) Just For Fun, is not present on this reviewer's copy or any other copy he has seen, although one can get that track on the Repertoire Records double-CD set Telstar: The Complete Tornados. That flaw aside, the annotation is excellent and the whole CD is a lightweight delight with decidedly heavier-weight musical allure. For seven out of ten potential listeners, it'll be all you could possibly want to hear.

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