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THE ACTION – Uptight and Outasight ( Circle, UK) LP / 2CD
 The news of more vintage Action material on the market is worth getting excited about, and this brand new Circle release presenting a slew of tracks from BBC radio sessions recording in 1966-67 doesn’t disappoint.

“I’ll Keep Holding On”, “Going to A Go Go” and a “Land of 1000 Dances” / “Uptight” medley were taped in front of a live audience, and it’s a gas to hear the band pull of those great soul harmonies in a concert setting. Those tracks are also a reminder of just how amazing a rhythm section the Action had in bassist Mike Evans and drummer Roger Powell.

The Action

The group’s peerless blue-eyed soul sound is also represented by BBC studio versions of “Baby You Got It”, Mine Exclusively” and “Take Me In Your Arms, Rock Me A While.”

There’s also a superb rendition of one of the perennial Action favourites, “Never Ever,” and an interview with Reg King in which he reveals that the band members are all still living at home with their mums and dads.

By early 1967 the group was taking in and reacting to some of the sounds emanating from the West Coast, as demonstrated here by a wonderful cover of the Byrds’ “I See You,” as well as the classic “Shadows and Reflections” and their own “Love Is All,” all of which sound great here. They even pull off a fantastic arrangement of John Coltrane’s “ India” – a must hear!

The 2CD version of this release adds 16 more songs from a reunion concert recorded live at the Dome in London in 1998. While these can’t match the thrill and magic of the original ‘60s tracks, the band proves they still have what it takes to light up a roomful of Mods and ‘60s freaks.

This is another magnificent package from Circle, loaded with notes and rare pix. You’ll want to snap up quickly before it disappears and becomes an over-priced collectors item, as it inevitably will.

Ugly Things magazine #22 (MS)

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THE ACTION - Uptight and outasight (Circle; 2004)

If there is something like “the most surprising re-issue of the year”, then it definitely must be this one! Even though there is a distorted sound or two on it, you can’t really argue with a new Action (double!!!) album, as long as there is one at all, can you? The material on the first CD comprises the up-until-now-tought-to-be-long-lost BBC appearances. It ranges from, a bit scruffy quality but still more than worth hearing, live-in-front-of-the-audience blueyed soul searchin’ through some of their significant dance floor mod stompers (“I’ll Keep Holding On”, “Land of 1000 dances/Uptight”-medley, “Going to a Go Go”, “Never Ever”), through the BBC studio takes on the otherwise unreleased covers of The Olympics’ “Mine Exclusively” and Kim Weston’s “Take Me in Your Arms (rock me a little while)”, that could both stand alongside any of the officialy released singles, to the latterdays west coast influenced post-mod popsike of their own “Love is All”, as well as more covers of such eclectic choice as The Byrds’ “I See You” (w/ The Association’s “Along comes Mary” riff thrown in) or even one of the future Might Baby live staples, Coltrane’s “India”, with Ian Whiteman widening the musical scope on flute. The bonus CD transfers the “In the Lap of the Mods” live’98 video tape (with two bonuses) onto the digital audio form, once again proving that “baby, they’ve got it” !!!

Goran Obradovic / POPISM radio show; Serbia & Montenegro

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The Action - Uptight and Outasight (Circle)

Finally available: The Action on TV and Radio 1966-7. Dean Rudland is excited. Read on.

Okay let's make this clear. THIS IS GREAT!
No ifs, buts, or maybes. GREAT!

The Action is one of those bands that really create no arguments at all. I don't think I've ever met someone who has spent any time in a mod type world who doesn't like them. And those people who saw them in 65 or 66 in sweaty clubs or ballrooms striving to become the next pop sensation, will swear they were an incredible live band. Until now I'm not sure we just had to take their word, but this compilation of radio and TV performances is proof absolute that those harmonies functioned just as effectively on stage.

I first heard of the Action whilst flicking through the racks of MJM Records in Epsom in the early 80s. As a 13 year old I had expanded my love of the Beatles into a fascination with the Jam and especially of course Paul Weller, who in his every utterance seemed to drop clues to a secret world of original Levi's, soul music and Steve Cropper that I quite wanted to be part of. In some notes on the back of an album called 'The Ultimate Action' he described how good he thought they were, and that album became part of 1982s Christmas list.

The music was incredible, but so were the sepia toned photos of the band on
stage: sharp threads, Rickenbackers and all. That album, and its future CD issues not only released the tracks that had been released on a series of George Martin produced 45s from 1965 to 67, but also the unreleased cuts that had languished in the vaults.

Circle Record's work on this new Action album deserves high praise. As someone who spends most of my time putting together archive releases, I have to take my hats off to their attention to detail, and the way they have gotten the best out of the sound sources, in fact even finding some of these sound sources.

Opening up with a couple of tracks recorded on a reel to reel tape recorder off of the television (almost certainly Ready Steady Go), this is the worst of the sound quality, but to hear the wonderful harmonies on 'I'll Keep On Holding On' and a unique version of 'Land Of A Thousand Dances / Uptight' is worth it. We are then onto the BBC sessions, and the quality of the sound on a version of 'Mine Exclusively' is brilliant, as it is for the rest of side
1 which takes us through 'Baby You've Got It' and a rollicking 'Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)'

Side Two gives you the last of the soul covers, before going into 'Never Ever' and 'Love Is All' which is announced by Brian Matthews as the B-side of their next single, which it never was of course. The next two tracks are perhaps the most interesting. 1967 saw the Action replace guitarist Pete Watson with keyboard playing flautist Ian Whiteman. This became wedded to a new sound, influenced by the West Coast harmonies of the Byrds and the Association, and a certain shall we say 'hippy' spirit. The results are evident on 'Love Is All' but also a take on the Byrds 'I See You' which shows exactly why the Action's harmonies were so perfect for this sort of sound. Even with all this in mind the cover of Coltrane's 'India' is still a surprise, though it would become something of a fixture for Mighty Baby. The album rounds off with perhaps its weakest point musically. On record 'Shadows and Reflections' is a George Martin tour de force, full of echo and harpsichord, unfortunately live it just can't measure up.

The CD version includes a live gig from the reformed band recorded at the Dome in 1999, personally I'd recommend buying both. The vinyl appears to be a numbered limited edition in a laminated flip back sleeve, comes with a great booklet full of pictures of records and memorabilia.

Let's just say this again. GREAT.
© Dean Rudland 2005
[Published 5 January 2005]

From "The Uppers organisation - your guide to the pleasures of modern living" website http://www.uppers.org/