The Mickey Finn – Garden Of My Mind: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967 (RPM)

The Mickey Finn were one of the many mid-’60s UK bands that had a few brushes with greatness, but ultimately never found a big audience. Garden of My Mind is the first-ever compilation of their material, collecting all their releases from 1964-1967, along with a few previously unreleased songs. The band’s earliest recordings (as Mickey Finn and The Blue Men) were average ska sides, but things pick up considerably in 1965 when the British ska craze died down and the newly christened Mickey Finn released the “The Sporting Life” single b/w “Night Comes Down”, produced by the brilliant Shel Talmy (The Who, The Creation, The Kinks…etc.). “The Sporting Life” is a solid Animals-styled R&B/blues hybrid, but the B-side “Night Comes Down” is a stone killer, with a barely controlled violence that threatens to boil over as the song progresses, but never actually does. Their next single, “Because I Love You” was a weak attempt at a pop number, though the b-side “If I Had You Baby” was another strong slice of Animals-esque R&B. After a year of touring, replacing their bass player, and recording demos, they put out their final single,”Garden Of My Mind”, one of the great British numbers of the psychedelic era, earning them a worthy inclusion on the second Nuggets box-set. Perhaps the song is little more than The Yardbirds covering “Purple Haze”, but if it’s executed correctly – as it is here – that’s a great thing. The excellent b-side, “Time To Start Loving You”, is a proto-glam stomper featuring an exciting combination of livewire riffing from guitarist Mickey Finn (real name Mickey Waller) and Alan Marks’ gruff soul vocals. Had the band recorded a full album around this time they’d almost certainly have a more prominent place in rock history. Instead, all we get are some fleeting moments of brilliance. Waller would become a popular session musician in the ’70s, and early band member Jimmy Page went on to be Jimmy fucking Page.