Guide to British Music of the 1960s

September 1999

CD Review

The Action - The Ultimate Action


There were rumours of an unissued album by the Action in the sixties but nothing was heard of it. the first action album, The Ultimate Action, was launched in 1980 with the CD re-release in 1990. The tracks had been produced in the 1960s by one George Martin. The sleeve notes on the LP were written by the modfather himself, Paul Weller. In fact, Weller stated that he believed Reggie King's soulful voice sounded far more natural than Steve Marriott's. Praise indeed. The album was preceded by the launch of a single, a superb cover of the Marvelletes' I'll Keep on Holding On. Incidentally, the Chords used to introduce their version of this song as " a cover of an old Action song."

There are a number of other cover versions. The best known of these being Bob & Earl's Harlem Shuffle, itself later covered by the Rolling Stones, the Temptations' Since I Lost My Baby, Martha & the Vandellas' In My Lonely Room and the wonderful Land of a Thousand Dances, borrowed from Wilson Pickett. Many of the other tracks are band originals although two songs are credited to Goffin/King and I Love You (Yeah) to Curtis Mayfield. Never Ever (no not All Saints) and Shadows and Reflections are particularly strong band compositions.

The Action were highly popular on the club circuit but despite a top producer and a string of excellent singles, they never managed to crack the charts. Their sound was someway between the soulful side of the Small Faces and the harmonies of the Beach Boys. A move more towards the style of the latter followed and some have said that this may have prevented the release of the album as it was more focused on the earlier soul style.

This CD is likely to be popular with anyone who likes the mod bands of the 1960s such as the Small Faces and the Creation. The Action captured the soul sound of Stax and Motown and made it available for the club audiences around the UK. More than thirty years later, the original line-up has reformed and has been gigging again.

Released: 1980

Edsel ED 101
CD Re-release: 1990
Edsel EDCD 101

Essential Tracks:

  • I'll Keep on Holding On
  • Shadows and Reflections
  • Baby You've Got It

Track Listing:

  1. I'll Keep On Holding On
  2. Harlem Shuffle
  3. Never Ever
  4. Twenty Fourth Hour
  5. Since I Lost My Baby
  6. In My Lonely Room
  7. Hey Sha-Lo-Ney
  8. Wasn't It You
  9. Come On, Come With Me*
  10. Just Once in My Life*
  11. Shadows and Reflections
  12. Something Has Hit Me
  13. The Place
  14. The Cissy
  15. Baby You've Got It
  16. I Love You (Yeah)
  17. Land of a Thousand Dances

*=Not included on 1980 LP release

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