The Action — “In My Dream”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — March 24, 2022

393) The Action — “In My Dream”

Stunning song from the lost demos of the Action, former mods who put down some incredible psychedelic sounds in ’67 in hopes of securing a new record deal. Thankfully, the demos were finally officially released in ’02 as Rolled Gold. As to our pick of the litter, Dominique Leone talks of “the show-stopping, Austin Powers-destroying frill of ‘In My Dream’. The chorus is the ultimate crossbreeding of mod-cool, Bond sheen and garage splinter, and I can only imagine the splash they’d have made had this ever been given the professional veneer it deserved (though George Martin’s minimal touches are ace).” ( I am not sure what “Austin Powers-destroying frill” means, but this song is a show-stopper.

Bruce Eder gives some history:

The Action were the most soul-oriented of the mod groups, favoring guitar-oriented covers of Motown tunes and R&B dance numbers . . . . [They] were discovered by George Martin, who signed them to his newly founded AIR Productions in 1965 and got them a recording deal at Parlophone Records . . . . The Action maintained a serious following among the mods . . . but they couldn’t get a break with their records and were unable to get the exposure that would have bumped them to the next level. As it was, they never got beyond playing clubs. . . . Though Martin still supported the[m], their lack of success meant that AIR could no longer keep them on the label and they were let go in 1967. They were eager to press on and soon were back in the studio cutting a new batch of songs that were all composed by the band and featured a heavier, more psychedelic sound. They sent the tape around to various labels, but were unable to drum up enough interest to sign a deal. . . . They eventually transformed themselves into a pure psychedelic outfit, Mighty Baby . . . .

Leone goes on to say that:

The Action’s failure to chart a single during their brief existence is one of the mystifying anti-climaxes in rock history . . . . The Action were a truly wronged band. . . [their] songwriting on par with anything The Who or Zombies were producing. . . . there are moments of brilliance [in Rolled Gold that] any lover of late-60s British rock will want to hear.

Matt Collar continues with the accolades:

The term “lost classic” is applied liberally and often erroneously to unreleased recordings that resurface years later in a maelstrom of hype. However, for . . . the Action, the term is not only justified, it is painfully bittersweet. On par with such classics of the era as The Who Sell Out or [The Small Faces’s] Ogden Nut Gone Flake, but more focused than either, [this] goes beyond “lost classic” — it is the influential masterpiece no one was ever allowed to hear. . . . By the time they recorded [Rolled Gold‘s] demo tracks in 1967, the band had grown weary of the musically limited mod scene, which was on its last legs. . . . Prefiguring the coming psychedelic movement, the songs were epic, heartfelt, melodic socks to the gut . . . think The Who’s Tommy meets The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension. Unbelievably, EMI — AIR’s distributor — was not interested, and the tracks were shelved. . . . Playing like the brilliant missing link between mod and psychedelic rock, [it] is experimental without being silly or twee and emotionally mature without being pompous and boring. . . . [Some t]racks . . . are as good, if not better, than anything that charted during the late ’60s . . . .

Wow, I have never read such adulation in an All Music Guide review. Maybe the Action need to start a class action against the rock gods.

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