gullbuy music review

The Action


Rolled Gold


Reaction Recordings


The Action CD coverThe Action are the much loved 1960s mod group who had no luck when they were actually recording and releasing music but developed a cult following thanks to the likes of people like Paul Weller of The Jam digging them. They were signed to George Martin's label and released a slew of records which went nowhere, but are now considered classic 60s mod rock. What makes them so remarkable is just how consistent they were from the get go, never really going through a formative stage like other mod rock groups. Apparently, there was a rumor of an unfinished album in the vaults, and these rumors were found to be true. This unfinished album was finally released as the cd compilation Rolled Gold.

Much different than their early sides, this album is really a collection of song sketches and ideas, which were recorded in hopes of scoring a record deal. They really were not intended to be released in this format, but seeing as how nothing came of these demos, what we are left with is a fascinating, lost masterwork left in the bated breath of an unfinished state. Following a similar path to their mod rocking buddies The Small Faces, the group penned a handful of original tunes (rather than the cover tunes they had customarily recorded previously) in a harmony drenched soul/psychedelic blast of brit pop. The music pounds along with lead Action man Reggie King leading the way thanks to his incredibly soulful voice. Reminiscent of other British groups mining this territory at the time like Traffic, The Small Faces (and others on the Immediate Records roster), and Cat Stevens, The Action left an incredible body of music here. It's sad to hear these sketches, which sound amazing on their own. Knowing they could've been fleshed out further into a major masterpiece of 1960s British rock if only their label had given them the green light, is one of those tales we hate to hear.

Upon first listening to Rolled Gold you would actually be hard pressed to hear that these are in fact demos. Generally speaking the sound quality and performances are first rate. The disc starts with the soulful powerhouse Come Around, which reminds me the most of The Small Faces thanks to the sweet harmony vocals and pounding piano/guitar led rhythm. This could've been transported into a late 1960s anthem if given half a chance. Love is All has the addition of flutes which adds nicely to the instruments not unlike the artful use of more varied instruments by bands like Traffic at this time period. Icarus and Climbing Up The Wall both sound like songs which would've inspired the modern rock band Guided By Voices (and go to show just how well this music has aged over the years). Really great melodies and soaring harmonies are spotlighted in both songs (and GBV had that unfinished gem feel there for a while).

My favorite two songs have to be Brain with it's awesome wah wah guitar and soulful lead vocals - definitely one of the major highlights of the disc. In My Dream is my all-time favorite song included on The Action Rolled Gold cd, and luckily there are two takes. The 2nd take (which is not credited on the disc) runs for almost 5 minutes and is more fully realized than the shorter credited take (as track 14). This makes it all the more easy to listen to this song over and over again. The guitar riff has such an obsessive sound to it, coupled with the dreamier verse section, you could find yourself obsessing over it just as much as I do.

---Patrick, September 9, 2003