I borrowed the first three of nine discs of The British Invasion: The History of British Rock from the Downers Grove Public Library last week. I have borrowed them before, but I bet it has been ten years. I see from the stamps on the booklet to disc one that the library has had it since 1994. The booklet looks a little worn, but the disc has held up well. More importantly, The Kinks (in photo), the Searchers, Chad & Jeremy, Freddie & the Dreamers, and their contemporaries still sound pretty good to me.
Anyone with memory or knowledge of mid-1960s British rock will, of course, notice right away that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are not represented. I am sure Rhino Records could not swing a deal to add any of their songs, but that is alright. There were many great songs from other groups - few solo acts getting much attention at the time. This collection helps point them out to now aging boomers who are the listeners most likely to appreciate these discs. Their children may just find many of the songs to be very silly. Only a boomer can remember "Do the Freddie" and smile.
There are good reasons that some of these songs have been forgotten. "Hello Little Girl" by the Fourmost" makes me cringe, and "Hippy Hippy Shake" by the Swinging Blue Jeans seems to be a reworking of "Twist and Shout" without any of the spark of the original. But the Kinks "You Really Got Me" and the Zombies "She's Not There" are classics that still sound fresh. Both are on disc one.
Highlights from disc two are "All the Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"by Manfred Mann, "Catch the Wind" by Donovan, and "Tell Her No" by the Zombies. I'd rather forget "I Like It" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "Bad Time" by the Roulettes, "Poor Man's Son" by the Rockin' Berries, and "I Love You" by the Zombies.
Disc three has some gems, including "Love Portion Number Nine" by the Searchers, "Tired of Waiting for You" by the Kinks, "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (not the Searchers), and "Wild Thing" by the Troggs. Cuts that do not sound as good as they may have way back then include "Tossing and Turning" by the Ivy League, "True Love Ways" by Peter and Gordon, and "I'll Keep Holding On" by the Action.
Have you guessed that I liked the Kinks? I also want to go on record as liking Chad & Jeremy better than Peter & Gordon. The latter duo's songs often seemed over-produced and too dramatic compared with the lighter songs of the former, such as "A Summer Song" and "Willow Weep for Me."
Honestly, I am glad that these discs have a mix of good and bad, representing the time more realistically than cream of the crop collections. Check them out to form your own impression of British contribution to the Rocking Sixties.