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on 28 December 2011
RPM's built a great reputation over the years for unveiling the nooks and crannies of Britpop 60s history, from label overviews (Beacon, Strike, etc.) to great single-artist packages. But this might be the first time they've attempted such an ambitious package? Over three CDs, Looking Back tries to document the British beat/mod explosion in its various guises via 80s tracks. The packaging is exemplory, from myriad photos to reasonably accurate and informative liner notes. The front cover artwork is refreshing, too - not the usual Twiggy or scooter shots but something which somehow captures the excitement of soul clubs back in the mid-1960s.

But two questions hover over such compilations. The first is the M-word. Isn't Mod just being used as a sales tool? Mod music wasn't British, right? It was American soul, blues and R&B or maybe Jamaican ska and rocksteady. Well, the purists can argue amongst themselves. At least Looking Back qualifies its contents with the terms Freakbeat and Swinging London - two genres which aren't that specific. If we give the compilers the benefit of the doubt on the Mod term, we then notice that Looking Back seems to be loosely themed. Disc 1 concentrates on the Beat and R&B material, centring on its boom in 1963-1964. Horn sections, for the most part, arrive on Disc 2 - so this is soul, albeit mostly of the blue-eyed variety (although there are more black vocalists here than meets the eye). Disc 3 seems to reflect Mod's diaspora, with various styles across the late 60s. The kind of tunes, then, which get played on the Mod scene today.

The second question for any such compendium is to what extent this is merely recycled fare, i.e. you've already got everything elsewhere. Well, Looking Back does boast a lot of stuff we've all heard before (e.g. 'Crawdaddy Simone', though it sounds better than ever). However, RPM have unearthed maybe half-a-dozen previously unheard tracks, including a Who cover ('La La La Lies' by A Wild Uncertainty) and a splendid Hammond instrumental by mysterious band The Knave. Amazing to think these finds are still occurring in 2011. So if you've bought everything issued by the likes of RPM, Rev-Ola and Ace, you may have 75% of the content here. But how many of us have really kept up with everything? Also, the compilers do seem to have picked the pearls amongst the swine.

An extra mention of the sound quality. Often, these comps are let down by shoddy EQ'ing - so each track sounds OK but they don't play through well. No such concerns here. As a listening experience, Looking Back is superb. While this listener might not agre with 100% of the choices, there's no doubting the effort behind it.

Overall, Looking Back is essential for any discerning fan of British 60s music.
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on 2 January 2012
This "Looking Back" compilation for me is one of the better compilations of sixties sounds from 2011 - Like the old Past & Present comps, there is a mixture of tracks you will know & love, and then there are those tracks that are new to even the most diehard fans of this music scene. There are new tracks on this comp that i have never heard before!!

If you are like me and your vinyl buying days are long gone, this CD is an absolute must. Unfortunately like the previous review I do have a number of the tracks on other Cds , The Ember Record Label series / Ministry Of Sound / The Untamed / Mulberry Bush / The Syndicats (It Was Paul "Smiler" - Rare Mod compiler who introduced me to this track during the eighties) / Strike Records etc... so for me a number of tracks i already own (even a copy of the previously uncomped "Lloyd Alexander Real Estate" on a vinyl '45, but it is the anticipation of those tracks i dont yet have, or havent heard before, or know about but have not got yet, which is more about where this comp fits into anyones collection.

There are many new tracks to me on this comp that I love, and the quality is outstanding. The 35 page booklet with each single details and pictures is also well published.

My Favourite tracks :- (excluding the tracks i already have which are also excellent) "The InCrowd - Stop Wait a minute" recently found this on YouTube and sounds like Shake, The Knave - Ace OF Clubs (if you like The Quik then this is a must buy), The Alan Bown Set - Jeu De Massacre (Unlike the Alan Bown you normally get on Comps - this is frantic stuff), Hardin & York - Little Miss Blue (Spencer Davis reincarnate!!), The Birds - No Good Without You (An Australian band of the same name covering the UK Birds songs!), The Trekkas. A Wild Uncertainty, Watson T Browne ... the list is endless.

Worth noting is CD3 has a few more Girly / Poppier tracks on it than the other Cds, the likes of Twinkle / Val McKenna/ Jacki Bond / The McKinleys / and a Ray Singer pop track with Organ. On the Whole 20 decent tracks and 6 questionable tracks for me (these fit into the more "Swinging London Nuggets" section)

This is a brilliant compilation - whether you like 60's R & B, Soul , General , Freakbeat , or whatever Genre you want to put to each track - with this compilation you have 80 Tracks, over three CDS and some I guess are worth much more than the CDs cost. RPM have pulled off a very comprehensive collection of some great sixties tracks not yet comped (if you like the Past & Present / Psychic Circle / Rare Mod compilations then you will not be dissapointed with this CD. Interestingly could they follow this up with a volume 2?
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on 25 September 2012
Where to start is my problem on reviewing this gem of a box set. It features some great garage rock/freakbeat (The Renegades, The Syndicats, The In Crowd). Great Soul (Val McKenna, Lloyd Alexander Real Estate, Tony Rivers & the Castaways). Great pop (Ray Singer, Katch 22, The Soul Purpose). Think that The Spencer Davis Group ended when Steve Winwood left, listen again, Eddie Hardin proves himself a great replacement on the two tracks in this set, both excellent. Arthur Brown was the god of hellfire, right, well yes but on the two tracks featured here he proves himself to be fine soul singer. The Mojo's deliver a superb slice of blue eyed soul (Until My Baby Comes Home), The Knave rave it up with an adrenalin fuelled Hammond organ driven instumental (Ace Of Clubs). Hoagy Benson will insist that your feet tap with some energetic ska (Kangaroo) as will the The Tribe (The Gamma Goochie). I could go on and on, if you like 60's music then this collection is a must, a great alternative to more famous music of the decade from where it came. It is very neatly packaged with informative liner notes on every track and housed in a neat little box.
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on 18 January 2012
Its not entirely clear whether this is anything to do with the other nuggets collections, or not, but if our a fan of Nuggets, Los Angeles Nuggets etc then you won't be disappointed. Not quite as good as the earlier Nuggests complications - here is a couple of ropey ones and perhaps one or two many cover versions, button the whole it's a great little collection. Imagine a London Soho underground club in the middle of the Sixties and this might have been what it who us have soy need like! A must for Freakbeat Freaks!
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on 4 July 2012
First time round for many of these failed singles to be issued on CD and this triple set fills in many of the gaps.
And yet there's still the odd one missing-Tony Shevelle & the Shevetons' If I Could Conquer The World (which used to be played on Radio Caroline a lot) and Sandra Browne's Knock On Any Door-the greatest song Burt Bacharach never wrote.Cherry Red is the right label to reissue them so a 2nd volume would be welcome
The info for the Renegades'Thirteen Women should have added that this song was the B side of Bill Haley's Comets' Rock Around The Clock which was a cover of the Dickie Thompson original
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on 2 March 2016
This is for the most part so far an absolute belter of an album. There certainly was a lot of great non mainstream music around then. If you love late mod/ freakbeat psych, crossover. Then this is a must. May get the second one now.
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on 24 November 2015
Great compilation!
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on 10 December 2014
Great box set.
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on 1 February 2015
Very good cd
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on 2 October 2014
nice comp
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