The Action were one of the great unrecognised bands of the 1960s,
at least in terms of the charts despite the fact they were known as a phenomenal
live act. They recorded many tracks but an LP was never released during the
band's lifetime. This new release looks to rectify that with "the LP that could
Many UK groups were playing their version of American soul but there was
always something different about the Action. It was not just about the amazing
soul voice of Reggie King though. There was a sold rhythm section with drummer
Roger Powell a model for a young Phil Collins. Mick Evans laid down some
incredible bass tracks - listen to Baby You've Got It. Then you have Alan "Bam"
King and Pete Watson adding harmonies. However, one thing that really made the
Action stand out was Pete Watson's lead guitar played on a Rickenbacker
12-string. This gave the Action a radically different sound that did not
replicate the Byrds!
The Beatles' producer George Martin signed the band to Parlophone
Records but this did not guarantee success. While there is undoubted quality in
the Action's recordings and they worked the live circuit extensively the singles
failed to chart. Possibly the lack of original material was at the heart of
this. At a time when groups were penning their own songs, the Action were
heavily reliant on covers, particularly of Motown standards. This could work
very well in a live context but in the record shops it was a different matter.
The fans could but the original artists rather than the Action even if
the English group did sound very different to the originals.
However, it cannot be denied that the Action did release some
wonderful singles. The trademark sound is evident on their version of the
Marvelettes' I'll Keep on Holding On with Watson's 12-string
providing a distinctive touch to its b-side Hey Sah-Lo-Ney.
Watson left after the first three singles and although this left a hole, the
band evolved its sound with more acoustic guitars and a slight move towards a
more psychedelic feel. Shadows & Reflections is a great track that should
have been a massive hit but the audiences were still looking for the "real"
Action playing white soul.
Fortunately the Action have gained a whole new audience following the
1981 release of The Ultimate Action on Edsel. The band is nowadays
recognised as one of the great live bands of the 1960s. This LP brings together
crucial Action tracks that shows the band at their studio best. The vinyl
benefits greatly from modern techniques and is an absolute joy to listen to.
LP Release: 26 October 2018
- I'll Keep On Holding On
- Shadows & Reflections
- Baby You've Got It