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Our Danish Collection

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Album Review

For a band that is usually regarded as a second-tier Liverpool act — ranking somewhere close to Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas — the Swinging Blue Jeans have amazing staying power, perhaps because their hits (mostly covers) were backed up by solid originals and surprisingly good singing and playing. The problem is always how best to hear their music, in the absence of a complete collection. The French EP Collection is a release of Magic Records from France, assembling the contents of the group's four official EPs issued in 1964 and 1965 by Pathe Marconi (the French arm of EMI). The advantage of compilations such as this is that a lot of British Invasion acts of the mid-'60s were at their best releasing EPs, as opposed to LPs — either by virtue of their own limitations or those of their producers: going from strength to strength across an entire LP of 12 or 14 songs was beyond the reach of many acts; additionally, as LPs and singles were considered separate animals, British LPs seldom contained any single tracks, including hits; EPs were the compromise, allowing the bands to plug a hit that was still on the charts as a single and sell other aspects of their sound three songs at a time — their four-song format wasn't the biggest possible stretch, but they were the optimum recording medium for some acts. "Hippy Hippy Shake" opens this disc and sets the pattern, a pounding rocker followed by a trio of band originals, all achingly beautifully Beatlesesque harmony numbers: "Do You Know," "It's Too Late Now," and "Now I Must Go" (the latter two in stereo for the first time); similarly, the pounding "Good Golly Miss Molly" is followed by a pair of more complex ballads, including the group's highly underrated cover of "You're No Good," and a surprisingly strong original rocker, "Shaking Feeling." "It's So Right" heralds a pair of sophisticated rock ballads, highlighted by the soaring "Promise You'll Tell Her," and a Merseybeat-style version of "Shake, Rattle & Roll" (also making its stereo debut); and from their last EP, "Rumors, Gossip, Words Untrue" shows off the band's melodic ballad side until the closer, a driving, punchy, lost single called "I'm Gonna Have You." The bonus tracks, drawn from across the group's history, include the LP side "Ol' Man Mose," the Merseybeat-style rendition of "Shakin' All Over," plus a pair of CD debuts, "Angie" and the instrumental (a true rarity for this band) "Wasting Time." The sound on all of these tracks is first-rate, not a trace of hiss and all of the highs and lows in sharp relief, all of it matching the high standard that Magic has set with its Hollies' reissues.

Biography

Formed: 1959 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they're only remembered today for their 1964 hit "Hippy Hippy Shake," which charted on both sides of the Atlantic -- the Swinging Blue Jeans were actually one of the strongest of the Liverpool bands from the '60s British Invasion; and, indeed, the Blue Jeans' earliest incarnation goes back about as far as the roots of the Beatles as the Quarry Men. "Hippy Hippy Shake" -- a cover of an obscure '50s rocker that was actually done much better by the Beatles on tapes of their BBC performances...
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Our Danish Collection, The Swinging Blue Jeans
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