Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

The World of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders

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Following reasonably warm on the heels of Polygram's domestic Best Of, this set opens with the understandable duplication of the band's greatest hits. But while the last release just marched straightforwardly chronological, this one really goes walkabout. And if it's true that the Mindbenders are better remembered for featuring one half of 10cc (guitarist Eric Stewart and last days bassist Graham Gouldman), you wouldn't know it from this remarkably egalitarian collection. Stewart cops just one co-writing credit, Gouldman scores two. The emphasis, then, is on the less well-walked passages. Early singles and B-sides which don't figure on the domestic compilation include the band's storming debut "Hello Josephine," alongside "It's Just a Little Bit Too Late," a surprisingly strong cover of the Boxtops' "The Letter," "Long Time Coming," and "Like I Did," while original frontman Wayne Fontana's solo career is healthily represented by "It Was Easier to Hurt Her," "Storybook Children," "Something Keeps Calling Me Back," "Come on Home," "Words of Bartholomew," and "Goodbye Bluebird" -- some of the greatest and most underrated pop of the mid- to late '60s. It would, of course, have been preferable to see the story split into individual collections -- having shared a common destiny for three years, Fontana and the Mindbenders not only went their separate ways in 1966, they also launched increasingly divergent careers. Fontana went for classy pop, the band slammed from a groovy kind of bubblegum to a rough approximation of proto-hard rock. Still, any chance to pick up songs which, in their original form make hen's teeth seem plentiful, is gratifying and, if history is ever to rehabilitate the Mindbenders beyond the dubious charms of "Um Um Um Um Um Um," The World Of is a good place to start.