Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Action, "Shadows & Reflections" (1967)

The prototypical should-have-beens: the Action were one of the most-loved bands on the mid-'60s English Mod scene, famed for ripping takes on Motown and Stax singles and for singer Reg King's stately and weathered blue-eyed soul tenor, but they stuck to singles in what was rapidly becoming the age of the LP and went under in 1968 (they recorded enough new material for an album in late '67/early '68 but couldn't find a label; those songs were issued as a "lost album" 30 years later under the titles Brain and Rolled Gold, which is probably what you'll find in record stores if you're lucky enough to find anything). "Shadows & Reflections," produced and arranged by none other than George Martin (who plays the harpsichord introduction as well), marked their transition from lean and spiky rhythm-and-blues to baroque psychedelic pop and should have been a huge hit, which of course it wasn't. The Zombies' legendary Odessey and Oracle (spelling intentional) has been referred to as "England's Pet Sounds," but the Action's last U.K. single stakes as good a claim as any to being the British "Good Vibrations."

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