Joan May draws our attention to the following review of the British Invasion All-Stars CD, featuring Various Artists, and now available on Moreland Street Records. It's at online at Patty Williams's Classic Rock site, where the album is rated 4 out of 5 Gold CDs. The album is produced by Mike Ober, though he isn't mentioned … and the stand-out track also appears, of course, on Matthew Fisher's 1994 solo album. Joan May advises that Green Onions is available for download (Amazon, iTunes) under the artist name 'British Invasion All-Stars' You may also buy this CD from Amazon.com here; you may also buy the CD from Amazon UK here, or download Green Onions here.
What do you get when you mix a little Yardbirds with Procol Harum, add a dash of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a pinch of Creation and the Nashville Teens, and – just before serving – you smother the whole kit and caboodle in a generous helping of the Pretty Things and their cruder counterpart, the Downliners Sect? Well, if you answered a bunch of has-beens from days long gone, you'd only be half right. The truth of the matter is that various members from each of the aforementioned outfits have come together to celebrate the music of the 60s on a collection chockful of oldies, oddities and random originals. Christened British Invasion All-Stars, the core six members of the 'band' are joined by several guest stars on a self-titled album that will undoubtedly raise the eyebrows of 60s British rock fans, far and wide.
The CD opens with a tune written by Creation guitarist Eddie Phillips. Phillips was considered a master of feedback in the mid 60s, almost joining the Who as a second guitarist. It's easy to see the similarities if you listen to Creation's Making Time. Unfortunately, Creation would take a backseat to the Who, the Kinks and other frontrunners of the British Invasion. Phillips' playing on United, utilizing a riff reminiscent of Wild Thing, clearly demonstrates that the man hasn't lost his touch.
Elsewhere, Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher applies his handiwork on such classics as the Spencer Davis Group's Gimme Some Lovin' and the seminal Booker T. instrumental, Green Onions. Between Fisher's exquisite Hammond and the Pretty Things' guitarist Dick Taylor masterfully wiping the floor with an explosion of comparable leads, Green Onions is far and away the strongest cut on the CD.
Vocally, we get a conglomeration of highs and lows. When Ray Phillips sings Tobacco Road, a 1964 hit for his group the Nashville Teens, it's obvious why the original had two lead vocalists. Even though he gains a little more ground on Bo Diddley's Mona, he is nowhere in the same league as the Pretty Things' Phil May, who leads the ensemble through a couple of white-knuckle standards. He smolders through Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' Shakin' All Over with Pirates guitarist Mick Green shouldering his trademark riff through each and every verse. May does almost as much damage with an infectious growl on the Yardbirds' I'm A Man. Speaking of which, the Yardbirds' drummer Jim McCarty plays a pivotal role on the CD – contributing his considerable percussion skills throughout while assuming lead vocals on four tunes. He also kicks in some original compositions of his own. Unfortunately, even as Heavy Weather and Lavender Down have their moments, both are completely out of place on this disc. Glimpses of God, featuring Hendrix bassist Noel Redding, moves in a far more enticing direction. Bad Penny, an original from Downliners Sect rhythm guitarist Don Craine and bassist Keith Grant, boasts a somewhat catchy chorus while Eddie Phillips' guitar greases the breaks.
All in all, British Invasion All-Stars is a patchy, but inspiring jaunt down memory lane.
"As the owner of Mooreland Street Records, I'd like to thank you for this mostly positive review. I agree with the vast majority of what
Shawn has to say. Hey, it ain't Sgt Pepper's but it IS a fun album. Thanks again." - Russ Garrett @ Mooreland Street Records.