Various Artists

The British Invasion: The History of British Rock [Series Overview]

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Rhino's The British Invasion: The History of British Rock is the most comprehensive series assembled on the style. It's also the best, not just because it's so exhaustive, but because it's done right, following from the exciting early days of Merseybeat all the way through swinging London to the end days of the '60s, dominated by psychedelic pop. It's not strictly chronological, especially since the final five volumes were released three years after the initial four, but the groupings of songs do make sense -- it never ricochets between the Beatles' "Ain't She Sweet" and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman," even when they're on the same volume; instead, it builds to that conclusion. Yeah, there are no Stones, Who, or prime-period Beatles, but that doesn't matter, because the selections by the Kinks, the Yardbirds, the Hollies, and the Zombies provide a solid foundation for the one-hit wonders, singles acts, and cult favorites that comprise the rest of the collection. It's a fantastic representation of one of the great movements in pop history, and this makes it still sound exciting and fresh.