THE STORY OF OAK RECORDS [Freakbeat/Psych 1964-68]

RG Jones’ Recording Studio in Morden, Surrey would probably qualify as a historic landmark today, if it hadn’t been long ago demolished by the local council. The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds laid down their earliest demo recordings there, in 1962 and ’63 respectively, and over the course of the ensuing decade Jones had a steady stream of clients, mostly young unknowns who left the premises with a handful of acetate demos made on the studio’s in-house disc-cutter. The studio’s own Oak label went a step further, issuing limited run vinyl pressings (usually just 99 copies, to avoid Purchase Tax) which were manufactured at Pye’s nearby pressing plant. These records have become some of the most sought-after `60s artifacts, not only for their scarcity but because they contain some of the deadliest R&B and freakbeat ever made, as The Story of Oak Records amply demonstrates.
2LP vinyl issue appeared on Tenth Planet in 1994 but is now out of print. This CD version is a somewhat curtailed version of that set, omitting several of the weaker tracks and making some key substitutions, including the addition of several killers not on the vinyl edition
Getting to those first, The Four Degrees provide a raving version of “Too Much Monkey Business”, modeled after The Yardbirds, but with more teen energy and some bangin’ Jerry Lee-style piano work; I love how the harmony vocal drowns out the lead on the chorus. Also new here, The Exiles'”Love In the Making” is an excellent charging beat number and The Phoenix’s “You Are The Moon And The Stars And The Sun” is an upbeat pop-psych winner. However, the pick of the new bunch are The Gremlins, who give some freakbeat aggro to the Spencer Davis Group’s “High Time Baby” with slashing amped-up guitar and an aggressive vocal from future Fleur de Lys member Chris (later Tim) Andrews.
These Solskjaer-style `super subs’ enhance an already stellar line-up that includes R&Beat gems by the likes of The Bo Street Runners and The Betterdays, freakbeat essentials by The Kingpins and The Game, and superb psychedelia by Amber and Mike Stuart Span, and not to forget the delectably mysterioso Velvet Frogs. 
[Mike Stax]
”Overview of the small but feverishly collected Oak custom label. This 23 track anthology includes all the Oak legends – The Game, The Kingpins, The Betterdays, The Mike Stuart Span, The Four Leaved Clovers, The Thyrds, The A-Jaes, Sons Of Man etc etc, as well as more recent discoveries. Full blown freakbeat/R&B/psychedelia spanning the years 1964-68.”

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