Out of print on LP now for quite a few years, The Action’s lone collection Rolled Gold achieved legendary status in collector’s circles. Before it was issued in the late ‘90s the recordings present here existed, shamefully, as shelved demos for an album that was never to be. The band started as a four piece in 1963 called The Boys and issue one lone single under that name on PYE. While that didn’t catapult them into stardom The Boys became the basis for The Action, who’d add Pete Watson on guitar and expand to a five piece whose toughened sound found fans in the burgeoning Mod scene, often garnering comparisons to The Small Faces and The Who. It’s under these circumstances that the band was found by George Martin and signed to EMI with high hopes.
The band’s early works tapped into their affinity for blue-eyed soul, with Reg King’s versions of “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and “I’ll Keep on Holding On” crashing at the charts despite hindsight proving them to be some of the best “beat” versions of the songs and certainly the best by a non-American contender. The band evolved several times over the next few years, pushing further towards progressive sounds that didn’t fit EMI’s vision for them. They’d adopt a more folk lean akin to The Byrds, which the songs on Rolled Gold showcase nicely, though the more progressive songs don’t temper the Small Faces vibes with “Brain” finding itself a good accompaniment to “Afterglow (Of Your Love).”
The album was shelved indefinitely after their single “Little Boy” failed to chart but remained for years in the EMI vaults. Eventually the shifting visions led Reg King to leave the group, with newly added keyboard player Ian Whitman assuming control of the band. Under his tenure they’d shift briefly to the name Azoth before finally becoming the vastly different and equally revered Mighty Baby. Guerssen has given the LP a new life and a gussied-up packaging worthy of its lost classic status.
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