Apart from Monkeypicks I don't think there's a bigger Action fan in the world like me so when it was announced that there was going to be a four CD set of their entire catalog I freaked. Not since their excellent tome "In The Lap Of The Mods" Action book have I been so excited to see a package arrive at my door!
Rather than give you a blow by blow account of all 86 tracks on this four CD set I figured I would give you some highlights. In 1990 when Edsel issued the very first Action CD all of their EMI recordings the tracks were remixed for some inexplicable reason (their ground breaking 1980 vinyl "Ultimate Action" comp album on Edsel was taken direct from the masters) . Over the past three decades subsequent CD reissues of the band's EMI catalog (and tracks on various artists CD compilations of the bands EMI recordings) have used the same atrocious mixes. Grapefruit/Cherry Red's new box set has atoned for that with compiler Alec Palao gaining direct access to EMI's master tapes giving The Action their very first "direct from the original masters" CD compilation ever. Sadly there are no unreleased songs in the EMI archives that we haven't already heard, but that said there are several alternate versions, backing tracks, rehearsal takes and previously unheard Stereo mixes of all of their EMI recordings. Also included are the band's 1967-1968 recordings (previously issued as "Brain/Rolled Gold") including full length versions of "Brain" and a previously unedited version of "Really Doesn't Matter Anymore", all the BBC tracks compiled for Circle's 2004 collection "Uptight And Outtasite", the 5 cuts recorded in '68 after lead singer Reg King's departure and a few months before they became Mighty Baby and issued in 1985 as the "Speak Louder Than" mini LP, both sides of their 1964 single as The Boys and the four tracks issued on 2014's E.P. on Top Sounds. Curiously the dreadful Edsel mixes are consigned, unnecessarily, to disc four.
|Looking baked at the Speakeasy, early 1967|
There are never before heard Stereo mixes of 15 of the band's 17 EMI recordings that offer a clearer investigation into the vocals (especially the backing vocals which sound higher in the mix to my ears than the mono versions) in addition to the original mixes of all 17 tracks cut with George Martin for EMI.
|Ready! Steady! Go! 1966|