The first thing that struck me about The Easybeats when I first heard their music was how inappropriate their name was, even though it dates their origins. They were no Mersey pop band, but a wild r&b outfit, initially in the style of early Kinks or Pretty Things. They retained that wildness when they moved into their most productive middle phase, developing their own vision. When, by the end of the 1960s, they sacrificed their edge for a blander pop style, they were almost a spent force.
This compilation of 56 tracks doesn't follow a logical order. Whoever put it together probably placed their favourites at the front of the first disc, starting of course with the band's flagship hit, 'Friday On My Mind'. The older, cruder stuff follows it, while the second disc seems almost to be a random mix, although all the later material can be found there. I used to own two volumes of hits on LP and must say that the recordings sounded better, denser, in that medium than they do on CD. Even so, this is a largely superb collection by a band who often reached dizzy heights of inspiration yet were also erratic.
By no means are all the tracks on here 'must haves'. Lyrically they were sometimes awful. Nevertheless, their music wields more influence among those who followed them than might be expected. They may only have had a couple of hits in the UK, and one of those was the ballad 'Hello How Are You', but they were quite popular in the US. Deborah Harry has cited them as an influence, while David Bowie paid homage to their biggest hit on his 'Pin Ups' album.
Aside of that song, highlights include the much-covered party ode 'Good Times', the mesmeric 'Land of Make Believe', and the ambitious, schizophrenic 'Heaven and Hell', while high adrenaline tracks like 'Sorry' are a staple. There is one curious concession to the psych age in 'Peculiar Hole In The Sky', probably the best of the later tracks, many of which feature orchestral flourishes. There are of course several Easybeats compilations and the shorter ones concentrate the best material more efficiently, but this one ensures you don't miss any of their gems.
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