Incredibly, despite an enviable connection (George Martin produced some earlier "blue eyed soul" singles and signed them to EMI) and consistently appealing songs, these 14 tracks, which were recorded in 1967 (or thereabouts), never saw the light of day until Rick Menck's (of power popsters Velvet Crush) Reaction Records label released them 35 years later. If you like British Invasion bands such as (fellow "mods") The Who, The Small Faces, and The Creation, or American acts such as The Byrds and Big Star, then chances are good that you'll also like The Action, who had a terrific sound and the songs to match, even if they lagged well behind in the luck department. The band's Anglo, r&b-based sound often had a jangly but rough-hewn guitar crunch, crashing Keith Moon inspired drums, and even occasional flute as well as the soulful lead vocals of Reg King (the vocals are often multi-tracked and their harmonies are often quite haunting). Simply put, Rolled Gold is chock full of should've been hits, many of which have a psychedelic tint, while creative tempo shifts and a dynamic band interplay keep things interesting even when the songwriting lags. These are cleaned up demos, after all, so some of the songs on the second half of the album seem unfinished or at least could use some fleshing out. The rough overall sound is hardly a hindrance, however, as many of these songs ("Love Is All" is probably my personal favorite) would qualify as "lost gems," as would the overall album itself. Props to Menck and company for rediscovering this highly worthwhile artifact, as the bulk of Rolled Gold sounds as fresh and exciting today as it would've 35 years ago, when a more "finished" version of this album should've been released amid much fanfare and acclaim. Better late than never, I guess, as already fans such as Matthew Sweet and Robert Pollard have lent their stamp of approval, as did the useful book Lost In The Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed (edited by Kim Cooper and David Smay), which is where I first read about this fine album.
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