Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Action: Kick Out The Soul And Look Westward

THE ACTION-Never Ever/Twentyfourth Hour U.K. Parlophone R5572 1967

The Action's first single as a four piece following the ejection of lead guitarist Pete Watson in December 1966 was February 1967's "Never Ever" b/w "Twentyfourth Hour". The single was unleashed while the band were taking a three month gig hiatus to work up a new set that swept clear most of their soul numbers and inserted Byrds covers ("I See You, "Eight Miles High"), Association covers ("Along Comes Mary", "Pandora's Golden Heebie Geebies") and band originals (presumably, both sides of this 45) among hepped up "psychedelicized" existing soul covers (check out the version of "Going To A Go-Go"  from a March '67 BBC session on their "Uptight And Outasight" CD/LP).

At the Speakeasy, Spring 1967

"Never Ever" marks the first time a band original (penned by all four members) graced vinyl after three previous 45's that all featured cover versions (Chris Kenner b/w Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes b/w Mickey Lee Lane and Maurice & The Radiants b/w The Temptations). It's also the first Action record to feature instrumentation outside their usual guitar, bass and drums format featuring horns (excluding of course the occasional piano c/o George Martin).  "Never Ever" shows a very distinct influence of The Association from it's opening choral sunshine pop harmonies to the driving "ba bap ba" chorus reminiscent in delivery to "You May Think" from the "Renaissance" LP. There is still a soulful feel to it in Reg King's vocals while the horns are not remotely soul influenced but remind me more of something from a mid 60's pop record scored by Les Reed like Paul & Barry Ryan or The Truth.

"Twentyfourth Hour" again melds The Association meets soul formula from the top side. It is also a group composition as well. The call and response vocals are pure soul but the "ba ba bop" backing chorus again points West (Coast) as do the soaring harmonies when Reg croons " time after time, you will be mine". There's a distinct Rickenbacker lick throughout the number beneath steady acoustic guitar strumming which cements this to previous Action recordings (though at this time Alan "Bam" King was mostly using a Gibson SG live and eventually a Fender Telecaster after the SG was snapped in two by a tumbling Marshall stack).

Sadly despite a stellar performance and again the brilliant production of George Martin the public wasn't ready to give the Action a hit, even if they were writing their own material. Macca's review in the "Blind Date" weekly column in "Melody Maker" didn't help either:

"Dave Dee? Snotty, Mick and Griff. Who is it?  Ah, The Action, yes. They're a good group and I'm not biased just because George Martin produces them, because they're a good group. George Martin records them you know. No, I'm not biased. They happen to be a good group and George Martin just happens to record them, and could be a hit. I'm not biased though.  Hi Judy!"
-Paul McCartney "Blind Date column" Melody Maker, February 25, 1967

U.S. Promo Copy

The record was also issued in the States on Capitol (their only U.S. release) in promo copy form. I've yet to come across a stock copy or hear of anyone who has, though there is a scan of one in "In The Lap Of The Mods" book. It was also released in the Netherlands (where it came in a picture sleeve and recently fetched a cool $1,000 on E-bay recently). "Never Ever" became the first Action original composition to be covered when The Quests from Singapore cut a version of it on their 1967 Columbia (Singapore) album "The 33rd Revolution" (alongside covers of tunes by The Hollies and Tomorrow!)

The rare Dutch P.S.

Both sides are of course on whatever guise the Action Parlophone recordings are being issued as these days be it "The Ultimate Action" or "Action Packed" while a BBC version of "Never ever" from March 1967 is on the highly recommended CD of BBC sessions "Uptight And Outasight".

Hear "Never Ever":

Hear "Twentyfourth Hour":

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