Maximum R’n’B (Past and Present Records)


This comp offers up twenty-seven slices of British R&B from 1964-1965. The band names change from song to song, but the sound always consists of hard riffs, fast tempos, wailing harmonicas and the type of rave-ups The Kinks, Them, The Yardbird and The Rolling Stones were riding to the top of the charts. Twenty-seven songs all cut from the same cloth is a bit much, and they eventually start to sound similar (that there are three Bo Diddley covers gives an indication of the limited scope of musical ideas), but when taken in smaller chunks it’s easy to get caught up in the infectious enthusiasm and energy of the music. Many will note that a young Ron Wood shows up in The Birds, a pre-Small Faces Ian McClagan with The Muleskinners, and a pre-Pretty Things/Pink Fairies Twink with the Fairies, but some of the best songs are from complete unknowns, like The Sons Of Fred’s frantic “I’ll Be There”, The Wheels’ psychotic “Bad Little Woman” (which also appears on the Nuggets II box-set), and “Pretty Face” a speedy little number from The Beat Merchants. A bit long, with a few numbers that could have been cut, but overall Maximum R&B is a potent distillation of pre-psychedelic British rock.