The Action – Rolled Gold

The Action
Rolled Gold

It seems really strange for a brand new offshoot label to make its first release a collection of ‘lost’ demos by an obscure band from the 1960s that has been restored and remastered. It’s not so strange if that label is Reaction Musik, a division of Parasol and the baby of Ric Menck (Velvet Crush) and Geoff Merritt (owner of Parasol), because that seems to be the company’s sole purpose. Reaction was formed to reintroduce modern music fans to some of the best 60s pop bands that managed to fly just under the radar of huge success.

The Action was a popular live band in the mid-60s London, particularly among the Mods. They were known for their Soul- and R&B-influenced melodic rock n’ roll. Producer George Martin signed the band to Parlaphone Records, but in two years they failed to chart even one single. The band went on to record a number of demos in the hopes of attracting another label, but their efforts went nowhere fast. More than 30 years later, a small English label convinced the group to reissue some of these demos, and that’s when Rolled Gold was born for the first time. Unfortunately, the reissue was a limited pressing that didn’t reach a large audience. The album’s second rebirth was when it was picked up by Reaction in the hopes of reaching a larger audience who would be appreciative of this nearly lost band.

Rolled Gold is essentially a collection of 15 demo songs that have been remastered, though as demos these songs are quite raw and lacking some production qualities of a slicker studio album. The composition is thin and some aspects, like the keyboards and flute, are nearly left out of the recordings. These things will be a downfall to some, but others will find the rough style here to be ideal. I get the sense that these guys were so popular on the club circuit because they were the real deal – not overly polished, not flashy, and with tons of energy. The band, which at the time of recording featured Reg King (vocals), Michael Evans (bass and vocals), Alan King (guitar and vocals), Roger Powell (drums), Martin Stone (lead guitar), and Ian Whiteman (keyboards, flute, and vocals), had true enthusiasm for their music. Although it’s a shame that they never got the attention they deserved in the 1960s, I’m glad albums like Rolled Gold are surfacing today.

The songs here honestly reflect the emerging psychedelic scene of the late 60s. The double guitars gush across Reg King’s expressive vocals, and the flute adds ethereal little touches wherever it pops up. The overall result is quite amazing, especially considering these songs were the group’s first attempt at original songwriting. These include the harmonious “Icarus,” which could have been absolutely majestic in a more polished form and the jangly, upbeat air of “Come Around.” Rolled Gold also throws songs in the mix like the skeletal song “Brain,” an improvised number with incomplete lyrics, and the heavily R&B “Look at the View.” “I’m a Stranger” is also noteworthy, with its fuzzy guitars and outstanding flute solo.

Rolled Gold is an album that stands the test of time, even if its songs were largely overlooked at the time they were recorded. Yes, it’s obvious that some of these tracks remain unfinished and rough around the edges, but I feel this only adds to their appeal. If you enjoy any of the mid to late 60s greats, The Action is right up your alley. Rolled Gold would also serve as an excellent introduction to Mod/Psychedelic music for the uninitiated.