Many U.S. listeners were first introduced to the Creation via the inclusion of their debut single, â€œMaking Time,â€ in the film Rushmore. It was a canny selection, harboring the angst of the early Kinks and Who, but without the familiarity thatâ€™s turned their viscerality into a nostalgic echo. Fans have been serviced by reissues and compilations, but never before a comprehensive box set of their mid-60s glory. Numero fills the void with this 2-CD, 46-track collection, served up with a hard-covered 80-page booklet of photographs, ephemera, label and sleeve reproductions, liner notes by Dean Rudland and detailed session notes by Alec Palao.
Like many bands of the beat era, a complete catalog of the Creationâ€™s releases includes singles, albums, mono and stereo mixes, versions prepared for foreign markets, and sundry odds â€˜nâ€™ sods. Numero collects all of this, starting with the original mono masters on disc one and four (of the original eight) mono sides by the pre-Creation Mark Four kicking off disc two. The bulk of disc two is taken up by new stereo mixes created for this set by Alec Palao (and approved by original producer Shel Talmy), along with previously unissued backing tracks for â€œMaking Timeâ€ and â€œHow Does It Feel to Feel,â€ and an unedited cut of â€œSylvette.â€
The stereo mixes maintain a surprising amount of the original recordingsâ€™ punch. To be sure, thereâ€™s alchemy in the mono sides, but the guitar, bass, drums and vocals are each so individually driven that the stereo mixes donâ€™t drain the records of their attack. And spreading out the guitar, lead and backing vocals adds welcome definition to many tracks. Even more interesting is that both in mono and stereo, producer Shel Talmyâ€™s distinctive style – particularly in recording the drums and the presence of Nicky Hopkins on piano – puts these tracks in a sonic league with the early sides he made with the Who.
The earliest Mark Four singles (unfortunately not included here) featured cover songs, but by 1965 the group was recording original material that had the blues base of the Yardbirds with the garage attitude of Mouse & The Traps and the Shadows of Knight. The B-side â€œIâ€™m Leavingâ€ finds Eddie Phillips wringing truly original sounds from his guitar as the drums vamp a modified Bo Diddley beat for a then-generous 3:32 running time. It was a sign of what was to come, as the groupâ€™s 1966 debut as the Creation sported what many believe to be the first use of a bowed guitar.
Eddie Phillips departed in late 1967, but with vault material still being released, and tours still being offered, the band soldiered on into 1968. They added Ron Wood in between his time with the Birds and the Jeff Beck Group, and he played on a handful of singles that started with â€œMidway Downâ€ and its flip, â€œThe Girls Are Naked.â€ Some iteration of the group (exactly which is a subject of discussion in Palaoâ€™s session notes) recorded posthumously released covers of Larry Williamsâ€™ â€œBony Moronieâ€ and Cannonball Adderleyâ€™s â€œMercy, Mercy, Mercy,â€ and the groupâ€™s final single, â€œFor All That I Amâ€ garnered little attention in its Germany-only release.
At well over two hours of music, Numeroâ€™s set provides a definitive recitation of the Creationâ€™s original mono run, a worth-hearing restatement in stereo, and the odds â€˜nâ€™ sods that mark a spelunking of the vault. The book is rendered in microscopic print, but itâ€™s worth digging out a magnifying glass to read Palaoâ€™s meticulous recording and mixing notes. The reproduced photos, correspondence, labels, picture sleeves and tape boxes perfectly complement this salute to a band whose commercial fortunes never rose to the level of their musical and stage artistry. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]