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+ 1/2 stars...British Invasion Extravaganza
on March 31, 2007
The recent PBS documentary was first-rate, and this companion CD box set is equally excelent. There are, however, a few caveats to consider:
1) The sequencing is not chronological. This is not a huge issue, but when you're covering nearly an entire decade of music it would have made sense to present the songs in the order that they were issued. Chronological sequencing would also have helped eliminate multiple tracks by the same artist showing up on the same disc. For example, all three Donovan songs are on Disc 2. And if you're going to include four Dusty Springfield tracks (the only artist with that many songs), why not include one of her biggest hits of the Sixties--"Son-of-a Preacher Man"?
2) The Moody Blues biggest hit of the Sixties on either side of the Atlantic was "Go Now," which went No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 10 in the U.S., but it is not included here. Instead, they use "Nights in White Satin" which only reached No. 19 in the U.K. and didn't chart in the U.S. until 1972!
3) Sandie Shaw is virtually unknown in the U.S. While "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" spent three weeks at No. 1 in 1964 in the U.K., it only reached No. 52 in the U.S. In fact, her biggest U.S. hit was 1965's "Girl Don't Come," which stalled at No. 42.
4) Technically, the Walker Brothers (who aren't really brothers) aren't really British either. They are all three Californians, who moved to England and had more success abroad than in the states. Their only two Top 40 U.S. hits are included here.
5) And it should come as no surprise that the Beatles--the group that started the British Invasion--are not included. Also conspicuous by their absence are the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Bee Gees, and the Dave Clark Five.
6) All three discs clock in at less than 60 minutes--in fact, they would almost all fit on two discs. So with a list price of $50, it's not a terrific bargain. [This would be my biggest concern regarding this box set.]
With those thoughts in mind, Shout! Factory (working with licensing restrictions) has put together a top notch collection of some of the Sixties' biggest hits from the Tornados' No. 1 instrumental hit "Telstar" from 1962 through the Zombies' million-seller "Time of the Season" from 1969. In all there are 57 songs from 35 different artists. If you can get over the sticker shock, this is a very enjoyable collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED [Disc 1 - 54:22, Disc 2 - 51:41, Disc 3 - 54:14, Bonus Disc - 28:07]
Update: I originally purchased this used (there was no bonus disc), but I purchased this as a gift during amazon.com's Black Friday deals for less than half the list price. It does, indeed, come with a bonus disc of ten songs. But this disc only reaffirms some of my concerns: the songs are not presented in chronological order, and too often multiple songs by the same artist are grouped together on the same disc, minimizing the variety such a compilation should provide. In the case of the 10-song bonus disc, there are only three artists. Here's what you get:
1. The Animals - "House of the Rising Sun" #1, 1964
2. The Animals "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" #15, 1965
3. Herman's Hermits "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" #2, 1965
4. Marianne Faithful "As Tears Go By" #22, 1964
5. Herman's Hermits "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" #1, 1965
6. The Animals "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" #13, 1965
7. Herman's Hermits "(What a) Wonderful World" #1, 1965
8. Marianne Faithful "Come Stay with Me" #26, 1965
9. Herman's Hermits "There's a Kind of Hush" #1, 1967
10. The Animals "It's My Life" #23, 1965
It would have made more sense (and certainly more variety) for these ten songs to have been spread out over the original three discs, which all clock in at under 60 minutes each anyway. In addition, the bonus disc comes in a loose cardboard sleeve, so there is no way for it to attach to the box. [Probably explains why my used copy was minus the bonus disc.] Don't get me wrong, this is still one of the best British Invasion collections available, but I have issues with their packaging, sequencing, and price.