The early so-called British Invasion of high-charting songs that began to fill up the airwaves in the US were wonderful songs that many of us old enough to remember them as they spilled, note by note, from radios, will know. Many of them were Top Ten hits with the bands who played them moving on to multiple hits as well as prolonged success in the US market. With songs like “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, “Carrie-Anne” by the Hollies, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann, and “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds, there was plenty of style to meet every taste.
Even more important was the fact that some of these bands were breeding ground zero for such loved and influential bands like Led Zeppelin/Cream/Blind Faith/Jeff Beck Group/Eric Clapton/Jimmy Page (Yardbirds – talk about greatness), Crosby, Stills, & Nash (Hollies), Faces (Small Faces, which, as they became Faces, eventually gave rise to Rod Stewart as a solo act, and Ron Wood’s natural absorption into the Rolling Stones).
Tied into the continuing live performance series of My Music - PBS genre specials - this 3CD Box set from Shout! Factory represents The British Beat PBS special (aired in early March) This 3CD Box contains 57 songs from 38 performers that include classics like Dusty Springfield (“Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “I Only Want to Be With You,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “The Look of Love”), Spencer Davis Group (“I’m a Man,” “Gimme Some Lovin’”), The Hollies (“Carrie-Anne,” “Bus Stop”), Small Faces (“Itchycoo Park”), The Kinks (“You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night”), Petula Clark (“Downtown,” “I Know a Place”), Donovan (“Mellow Yellow,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Catch the Wind”), The Zombies (“She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” “Time of the Season”) and others.
This collection is packaged in a Digi-Book format with liner notes from Bill Dahl, a noted, Illinois-based rock critic who has written a ton of liner notes and was nominated for a Grammy (Album Notes Category – yes, there is one). There are plenty of photographs to go along with this set. However, the real winner is the remastering of the songs; they sound great.
There’s a lot of history compiled into this set, an awful lot. A little research will uncover some of that for you. Example: The Zombies’ Rod Argent went on to start a band bearing his last name (Argent) and produced two big hits in “Hold Your Head Up,” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” Robin Trower, affiliated with Procol Harum (he did not play on “A Whiter Shade of Pale” found in this set but was involved for the largest part of the band years), eventually led to his formation of the popular Robin Trower Band. And of course, the unfathomable reach of The Yardbirds mentioned earlier cannot be ignored. Not only is there history, but there are great songs here, simple and pure. This collector set, The British Beat: Best of the 60s bundles a nice slice of the era, an era that will have you wrapped tightly in a nostalgic blanket.