Perhaps they're known for the inclusion of "Making Time" in the 1998 classic film Rushmore, or maybe for inspiring the name of one of the U.K.'s best indie labels (Creation Records), and one of its best acts (Biff Bang Pow!)? Whatever the reason, The Creation remain one of the great underappreciated British acts of the Sixties. As a recent spate of Move reissues has shown, some bands finally get their due, even if it's decades later. But The Creation have never quite received that level of acclaim. Maybe they will now. With the release of Action Painting this Friday from the Numero Group, The Creation should finally get the attention they've always deserved.
The 46 tracks here make a strong case for this band being an equal of The Who in this era. That's a bold statement to make but, really, take a listen to "Making Time", or the "My Generation"-referencing "Biff Bang Pow" if you don't believe me. Drummers Dave Preston and Jack Jones both pound the skins with the force of Moon on many of these tracks. And the slow-burn of "How Does It Feel?" recalls an era when Mod acts were morphing rhythm-and-blues forms into something louder and more in your face. Elsewhere, "Can I Join Your Band?" imagines a mix of The Move and The Small Faces, tough guy whimsy of the best sort, while the stomper "Painter Man" sounds like the work of the kids who would have bullied The Kinks on the schoolyard, all British Invasion riffs put through the ringer, as it were. "For All That I Am" reveals a nod in the direction of The Yardbirds, or early Floyd, faint traces of psychedelia creeping through in Eddie Phillips' vocal delivery, while "I Am The Walker" offers up a near-garage rock-sense of chaos in its big hooks.
All of those tracks make up Disc 1 of Action Painting and, clearly, this half is the meat of this set. Still, that's not a slight on Disc 2 as it contains a few fairly-rare tracks from Creation precursors The Mark Four, along with numerous stereo mixes of the more familiar cuts on Disc 1, along with a few select covers. If "Hey Joe" and "Like A Rolling Stone" are not entirely successful they do reveal the skills of these players at adapting the era's big hits into something that sounds like their own material. The same goes for the surprisingly peppy "Cool Jerk" cover, here in stereo on Disc 2. The Creation, bridging mod and Beat Group-era sounds, made big, beefy rock that holds up remarkably well. And a listener who is only marginally familiar with this material should perhaps think of Disc 1 as the greatest hits half of this compilation and Disc 2 as the rarities portion of this release.
Action Painting should clearly serve as the definitive compilation of the work of The Creation. Housed with an impressive booklet with scores of rare photos of the band, along with essays by Dean Rudland and Alec Palao, Action Painting offers up 46 tracks from this band all lovingly remastered by Who-mastermind Shel Talmy. The sound here is superb, like a punch in the chest on the mono half, and a buzzsaw to the senses on the stereo ones. There are many, many reasons to get this and even if you already have a compilation from The Creation, you're going to want this one for the remastering and for the book.
It's only March but 2017 is unlikely to see a more impressive reissue than Action Painting by The Creation, out Friday. More details can be found on the Numero Group website.