Various Artists

The Early Days of Rock, Vol. 1: Live in Concert, 1964-1968

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The title of this bootleg compilation's a pretty general catch-all for music that could be specifically categorized as British Invasion rarities, rather than a grab bag of live rock performances of all kinds from the mid- to late '60s. Certainly only committed British Invasion collectors should seek this out. But if you are one, it's pretty interesting, with live performances, most unreleased, by the Spencer Davis Group, the Kinks, the Creation, the Small Faces, the Move, the Troggs, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity, and the more obscure (certainly to Americans) but worthy the Smoke and Simon Dupree. The fidelity is below official release standard, but not by much; the sound is in fact very good for live 1960s recordings, and an educated guess would be that the source for all of these is the German television show Beat Club. (All tracks, incidentally, are genuinely live, not lip-synched). Its value is diminished by the presence of some of these cuts on single-artist bootlegs, or even (as is the case for most of the Creation and all of the Spencer Davis Group tracks) official live anthologies. It's still pretty good for a release of this kind -- you can actually enjoy it as a listen on its own terms, instead of bearing with it and telling yourself that it's historically important. And you'll probably never find the Creation's live version of "If I Stay Too Long" or the cuts by the Smoke (including "She Put the Hurt on Me," which they never released an official version of), Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity, and Dupree anywhere else. Sticking out as misfits in this company are two cover songs by the Fingers; no information about the band is given in the ultra-skimpy liner notes, and perhaps they were a German group that filled time on the program between visiting U.K. stars. By the way, don't get too excited if you find this and see a cover of "Baby Don't You Do It" by the Spencer Davis Group (which they never put out on record) in the track listings; this performance is actually "Sittin' & Thinkin'," and appears on the official Spencer Davis Group CD Mojo Rhythms & Midnight Blues, Vol. 2: Shows '65-'68.