Halcyon Days: 60S Mod, R&B, Brit Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets (3Cd Clamshell Boxset)
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Audio CD, Import, 18 December 2020
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- Product Dimensions : 13.49 x 13.31 x 1.91 cm; 159.89 Grams
- Manufacturer : STRAWBERRY
- Original Release Date : 2020
- Label : STRAWBERRY
- ASIN : B08KKPDRP8
- Number of discs : 3
- Best Sellers Rank: 10,588 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
- Customer Reviews:
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UK three CD set. Halcyon Days charts the development of mod friendly beat music across three CDs from the jazzy R&B of Chris Farlowe, Duffy Power with Graham Bond and Zoot Money that opens disc one through horn laden Brit soul from Jimmy James, Geno Washington and The Richard Kent Style, ska from Mickey Finn & The Blue Men, girl group pop from The Chantelles and fuzz drenched freakbeat from The Pretty Things and The Worrying Kynde. Producer Mike Hurst opens his archives allowing us to include freakbeat nuggets from The Australian Playboys, The Human Instinct, The Favourite Sons, Double Feature and The Oscar Bicycle plus orchestrated pop gems from the soulful Truly Smith, psychedelic The Alan Bown!, Swedish mods The Tages and dramatic singing twins Paul & Barry Ryan. First time on CD rarities include British R&B, soul and mod beat tracks from The Athenians, The Fingers, The Candy Dates, Barney J. Barnes & The Intro, Kevin 'King' Lear, Dorian Gray, Barry St. John
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Well, you'd have probably got all that from reading the product description, so let's get to the crunch. Is it any good?
Yes, it is. Strawberry have risen to the challenge of continuing a much-loved series from a much-loved label and have made sure quality is not merely maintained but if anything improved on the earlier sets. Looking more closely, the first disc concentrates on R&B (as the term used to be understood), soul and ska, the second moves into freakbeat territory (for those arrriving late, that means it's not unlike the Who or the Yardbirds, the latter being present in person), and the third takes us into the psychedelic era. As is usually the case, the artists included are a mix of big names (yer Animals, Yardbirds, Kinks), cult figures loved by '60s-Brit collectors (The Creation, Mark Wirtz, John's Children), artists whose glory days were yet to come (David Bowie, Rod Stewart) and bands so obscure their own members have forgotten they were in them.
The quality is largely maintained throughout (with one notable dip for this listener, which we'll come back to). I'm normally more inclined towards the psychedelic end of things, but this time round, the first disc is the killer. It's hard, intense and soulful all the way. Received wisdom has it that while Geno Washington was great live, he wasn't talented enough to cut it on record: if his "All I Need", for my money the best track here by a wide margin, is any indication, received wisdom is absolute nonsense. But the whole of this first disc is a joy. Being as I was only five at the end of the year, and in the North-East, I have no real idea of what a hot, sweaty night in the Marquee in 1966 was like, but in my imagination, it was EXACTLY like this first disc, and it was glorious.
The dip in quality mentioned earlier kicks in around halfway through the second disc, which is padded out with some sappy attempts at mainstream pop and whose charm doesn't so much fade quickly as it fails to to appear in the first place. Thankfully, normal service is resumed for disc three, but I've dropped the set a star on that basis. Even allowing for that lapse, though, for anyone who's already bought into this stuff, you can indulge with no reservations, and for newbies, it's a fine place to start. Well done, Strawberry: here's to as long and glorious a catalogue as RPM. The auguries are good so far.