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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The important Invictus years, 10 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Band Of Gold + Contact + The Best Of + Reaching Out (Audio CD)
With better luck, Freda Payne might have had a much longer period in the spotlight. As it is, most people only remember her for Band of gold. This compilation makes a serious attempt to show that there is much more to Freda's music than just that hit. I already knew that, having bought a single CD many years ago, which I reviewed in 2002. Actually, that compilation contained 24 of the 40 tracks to be found here, but at the price Amazon were offering it for, I decided this set was irresistible. It contains all the tracks from the three original albums that Freda recorded for Invictus, together with tracks that appeared on her Best of compilation but not on the other albums, plus alternative versions of Band of gold and Deeper and deeper. The liner notes say that this set contains everything that Freda recorded for Invictus, which may well be so (if one doesn't count the US single version of You brought me joy, released in Japan on Unhooked Generation: The Complete Invictus Recordings, which otherwise contains everything here but in a different running order), though it would mean that there are no previously unreleased tracks hiding in the vaults.

The first album, inevitably titled Band of gold, includes the minor R+B hit Unhooked generation, which was the single before the big one, as well as Deeper and deeper, the follow-up to the big one. Other great tracks include The world don't owe you a thing, Through the memory of my mind and Rock me in the cradle among others. In my earlier review, I wrote that there were no cover versions as far as I could tell, and that remains the case for those 24 tracks, but there are a few covers here, though not ones that I would have expected. On the Band of gold album, you'll find covers of Happy heart (recorded by Petula Clark and Andy Williams at around the same time, but a big hit for Andy after he sang it as a guest on Petula's TV show) and This girl is a woman now (Gary Puckett).

The second album, Contact, may well be a better album overall than Band of gold. Freda certainly thinks so and so does the writer of the liner notes, but I don`t think there`s a lot to choose between them. There is no blockbuster her, nor are there any covers, but there are plenty of excellent songs. The big American hit here was the anti-Vietnam song Bring the boys home, which wasn't included on early pressings of the album though it was released at around the same time. The other significant hit, released prior to the album or Bring the boys home, was Cherish what is dear to you. The third single was the minor hit, You brought the joy. That was effectively the end of Freda's hit-making career, as only minor hits followed thereafter.

The best of compilation took the best tracks from the first two albums, together with four previously unreleased but wonderful songs, plus He's in my life, which was dropped from the Contact album to make way for Bring the boys home. It was a great song in its own right and anybody who has an early pressing of Contact will find that it includes He`s in my life..

The last album here is perhaps the weakest of the three original albums, but it is definitely worth a listen. The only hit (if it can be called that) was Two wrongs don't make a right. Two more covers are included, both of them being songs that Freda wanted to record. They were Rainy days and Mondays (Carpenters) and If you go away (Rod McKuen's translation of Jacques Brel's Ne me quitte pas). I can see why some people, especially Freda's R+B fans, might not be impressed by Freda's recording of If you go away, but it's fine by me.

While Freda's time at Invictus was not always a happy one, she made some great music there. I understand that some of Freda's other music is also worth a listen, and maybe I will investigate that someday, but all her big hits came during her time with Invictus, and they are all here, together with much else besides.
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