Mascots (The) - Ellpee (Music CD)

Release Date: 22 September 2014
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The Mascots had a reputation for doing some of the best faux British beat-style music to come out of Europe during the 1960s, but one can't fully appreciate how good they were at it until one hears this album. Issued in 1967 and intended to appeal to the English-speaking market, it includes a few single sides intermixed with tracks done especially for 12" release, and the results are kind of eerie, mostly because they are done so well in a British beat mode by musicians who are obviously coming to the music from the outside. The fuzz-laden rockers such as "I Close Your Eyes" could have passed muster as proper British freakbeat circa 1965-1966, like a more commercial version of the Creation's sound, while folkie-based pieces such as "The Proud Crowd" come off as a variant of the folk-rock sound embraced by John Lennon on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," except the inspiration is less Bob Dylan than, maybe, Phil Ochs in his most commercially minded moments. And then there's the downright weird "Things Are Turning Out," a strange (and strangely accurate) European answer to British music hall-influenced novelty rock, which seems to have been inspired more by Herman's Hermits than the Beatles, while "Droopy Drops" sounds like someone trying to impersonate the Hollies and Unit 4+2 in the same song and the same breath. They also deliver a better than decent hook-and-harmony-laden piece like "Nobody Crying," with its superb middle eight and a great break, which could just have become an underground classic in America or England. The original LP's first side is stronger than its second, and it all sounds as though someone took the hooks, choruses, and playing (and some of the singing) of the Beatles, the Hollies, et al., put them into a blender, and came up with something generic but pleasing in its musical flavor. And thanks to its short running time and lack of pretenses to anything greater or more important, this never overstays its welcome as prime mid-'60s U.K.-style pop/rock. ~ Bruce Eder
Release Date: 22 September 2014