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Hurricane: The Best Of The Prisoners, CD (£7.43)
WELL, I NEVER, a Prisoners greatest hits set. About time, I calls it.
Britain's finest psych'n'soul band of the past two decades blessed us with four studio albums, several live sets, a number of 7"s, the odd bonus number and sundry compilation tracks between 1982 and 1986. And everything that Graham, Jamie, Allan and Johnny cut still sounds monumentally inspired. From the propulsive teen garage of their 1982 debut album, "A Taste Of Pink", to 1986's classy "In From The Cold", the Kentish quartet's catalogue is an awesome musical treasure trove.
The Prisoners were such a solid unit - a bunch of fiercely independent anti-hipsters who exuded a dryly silly sense of humour - and owed as much to the Pretty Things and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as the Small Faces, or Booker T. & The MGs. They dished an unassailable, interlocking riptide of steaming Hammond, searing guitar, soulful vocals, fluid bass and on-the-dime drumming. Or, if you put it another way, nothing less than a musical rollercoaster ride through 30 years of suss and strut - with guitar and organ dogfighting on top, just for kicks. Yep, that's the kind of synapse-frying Medway Delta gumbo that you can get a more-ish earful of right here. The band and old Dean-O Rudland, the compilers of this essential set, have selected so many treats that it's nearly indecent.
Sure, some Prisoners fanatics (and they are legion) will nitpick with the track selection-.-that's the luxury of having such a nugget-stuffed catalogue to choose from (buy it all, why don'tcha?). But, believe me, the bottom line is that this baby smokes. And we ain't talking low tar. Expect a whole heap of Leslie speaker-shredding overdrive and lysergic guitar-fuelled fury, via stage faves like Nobody Wants Your Love, Deceiving Eye and Reaching My Head. What about the paint-strippingly funky, dancefloor-filling instrumentals? Well, there's sure-fire boat-floaters Come To The Mushroom, Explosion On Uranus and Revenge Of The Cybermen. And also classic songsmithery aplenty, on such heart-tugging numbers as Whenever I'm Gone, The Last Thing On Your Mind and Mourn My Health. Oh, and don't forget the all-out garage psych screamers (Melanie, Better In Black) or the slices of edgily atmospheric pop (Wish The Rain, Thinking Of You (Broken Pieces)). Truly, this particular musical cup doth runneth over.
It's easy to forget that these tracks were committed to tape nearly two decades ago, in a drastically different musical climate. Back then, the indie charts were pretty much just that-.-nobody monopolised London's gig venues-.-brown ale was still quaffed by the crateful-.-and over-cranked Vox amplifiers generated an impenetrable fog which covered much of Southern England. The advent of t'internet, massive CD reissue programmes and the bleedin' iPod means that today's guitar-toters are living in some sort of pop culture paradise / wasteland (delete as applicable), which should have already translated into the appearance of a musical ??ber-generation. And yet, the Prisoners simply cream today's most lionised rock'n'roll bands (names available, upon request). Funny, that.
By Joss Hutton