Album: Various artists

Where the Action Is! Sanctuary
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The Independent Culture

No Mod compilation has conveyed the breadth of musical ferment in that most stylish of youth subcultures quite as well as this two-disc anthology by the DJ Gary Crowley. For once, it isn't a totally white experience, with the sharp-suited beat bands of the Swinging London disc balanced by the soul and ska artists on the Young, Gifted & Black disc. This is right, for Mod was a scene largely fuelled by black dance music, primarily Tamla Motown and Stax/Atlantic, with a contingent of one-hit-wonder classics such as Dobie Gray's "The 'In' Crowd", Tommy Tucker's "Hi Heel Sneakers", and the most propulsive party track of all time, The Showstoppers' "Ain't Nothin' But a Houseparty". All are here in a beautifully-sequenced selection, which opens with Robert Parker's three-chord vamp "Let's Go Baby (Where the Action Is)" and glides through the soul stompers before seguing into blue-beat classics like "007" and "Train to Skaville". The first disc is a little overstuffed with Jimmy Smith-wannabe organ grooves from the likes of The Artwoods and The Attack, but there's plenty of maximum R&B from The Birds and The Primitives ("You Said", a dead ringer for The Pretty Things' "Rosalyn"), a touch of Kingsmen-style garage-punk from The Kinks, and, in the rolling drums and spindly guitars of The Sorrows' "You Got What I Want", a weird precursor of Beefheart's early Magic Band sound.