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Benzedrine Beat! Sixties R&B Rave Up

The Purple Hearts

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Album Review

All ten songs the Purple Hearts released during their brief lifetime (on 1965-1967 singles) are on this meticulously thorough reissue. It also adds four songs they recorded on acetates in early 1965 prior to their recording deal, as well as seven tracks by the Coloured Balls, the band in which singer/harmonica player Mick Hadley and bassist Bob Dames played in the late '60s and early '70s. The Purple Hearts tracks are the ones the collectors who seek this CD out will be most interested in, as they're solid, punky R&B, very much in the mold of the British bands springing up in the wake of the Rolling Stones circa 1964-1965. The cuts are tough and hard-boiled, and will no doubt recall similar, though superior, British acts such as the Pretty Things and the Graham Bond Organisation. What makes the Purple Hearts inferior to such acts is that they recorded absolutely no original material, devoting most of their studio performances to covers of songs by the likes of Bond, Paul Butterfield, Bo Diddley, and Muddy Waters. They do, however, pull off a superbly menacing R&B/punk makeover of the spiritual "Early in the Morning," with searing fuzz guitar and voodoo-ish ensemble chanting. Too, their sole 45 to feature cover tunes that weren't well known ("Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones"/"I'm Gonna Try") is pretty respectable, though Mick Hadley's vocals aren't quite up to the level of belters like the Pretty Things' Phil May. The Coloured Balls tracks (in quite variable sound quality), which are much more in a hard rock/blues-rock/psychedelic/progressive rock vein, are apparently taken from "rehearsals, gigs and local TV appearances" — the liner notes aren't wholly clear on this point. These songs aren't nearly as interesting as the Purple Hearts' material, and are likewise all covers, this time around of songs by Jethro Tull, Steve Miller, and Fleetwood Mac, as well as blues tunes by Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. The 36-page booklet is exemplary, with liner notes featuring vintage photos and first-hand quotes from original bandmembers, properly honoring the Purple Hearts' status as one of the more notable Australian rock acts of the '60s.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Romford, Essex, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The story of London, England mod revivalists the Purple Hearts begins in 1977 when teenagers Jeff Shadbolt, Simon Stebbing, Bob Manton, and Nicky Lake dubbed themselves the Sockets to sneak their way onto a bill opening for the Buzzcocks, even though none of the four had the ability to play an instrument. Each member of the quartet chose an instrument — Shadbolt chose the bass, Stebbing the guitar, Manton stuck with just vocals, and Lake picked up drumsticks — and they feverishly threw...
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Benzedrine Beat! Sixties R&B Rave Up, The Purple Hearts
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