US band SIDEWALK SOCIETY have been releasing material at a steady pace for the last decade or so, with three albums, two EPs and half a dozen contributions to compilations of various kinds to their name. “Strange Roads” is their most recent studio production, and was released in 2017.
There some aspects of this album that are rather special. For starters it is a purebred cover album, Sidewalk Society taking on a full album and doing their version of it. In addition, this is an album that was never officially released, at least not in the shape the originating band intended to. The creators of the songs on this album is the UK band The Action, a band that split up when their planned album “Rolled Gold” was shelved by their label in the late 60’s. The demo recordings appeared as an archival release back in the 1990’s, but the songs were never finalized and recorded in a proper manner.
Sidewalk Society have taken on the job of recording these songs in the manner they deserve, and they have done a smashing job of doing just that. Perhaps not always in the way The Action may have intended, but most certainly in a time typical manner of the age and from the age when these songs were crafted.
What we get is a 14 track album that for the greater amount of the play time sounds kind of like a harder edged version of The Beatles teaming up with a gentler version of The Who. Some sweet pop moments here, some tighter, firm more distinct rock cuts there, plenty that meet in the middle and a few subtle left turns here and there. Liberally laced and flavored with psychedelic details, especially by the guitar, and with firm lead vocals and sweet vocal harmonies of the kind that should please most fans of 60’s psychedelic pop and rock music.
Towards the end we also get a couple of songs that break the mold ever so slightly, the mesmerizing duo of Follow Me and In My Dream, tracks that for me indicates just how massive a band The Action might have been. Creations I have a harder time placing in a specified context too, while not being markedly different from the rest of the songs there’s just a little special something going on there that really charms my heart and my soul.
Sidewalk Society is a quality band, and have proven this on several occasions over the last decade. Their take on The Actions unfulfilled album Rolled Gold is a production that really and truly merits a check by just about anyone that enjoy their classic The Beatles and The Who albums, as well as old fans of The Action and similar bands from the late 1960’s. Another jewel in the history of Sidewalk Society, another gem in the catalog of UK label Fruits de Mer.
My rating: 83/100
Come Around // Something to Say // Love Is All // Icarus // Strange Roads // Things You Cannot See // Brain // Look at the View // Climbing Up the Wall // Really Doesn’t Matter // I’m a Stranger // Little Boy // Follow Me // In My Dream