Monday, July 21, 2014

Keith Allison: “In Action/The Complete Columbia Sides Plus” (2014) CD Review

Before joining Paul Revere And The Raiders, Keith Allison appeared on the television show Where The Action Is in the mid-1960s. He was also recording with several artists at this time, including The Monkees. And in 1967 he released the LP In Action, featuring the song “Action, Action, Action,” which became the theme song for Where The Action Is. He also recorded several singles for Columbia.  In April, Real Gone Music released In Action/The Complete Columbia Sides Plus, which includes Keith Allison’s LP, In Action, plus his Columbia singles (and one single on Amy). It’s a great collection of music.

In Action opens with “Louise,” a good rock tune with excellent vocals, a great energy and a good beat. He delivers the lines with an occasional snarl. The lyrics give a description of Louise, with lines like “She thinks without no reason/That girl is out of season” and “Her head goes round and round and round.”

The Monkees

Keith Allison co-wrote one of my favorite songs, “Auntie’s Municipal Court,” from The Monkees’ The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. And on In Action he covers two Monkees songs. Well, technically the first, “I’m A Believer,” is a Neil Diamond song. This is a fun rendition, fairly faithful to The Monkees’ version. (Keith also covers Neil Diamond’s “Do It.”)

The other Monkees song Keith covers on the LP is the Boyce and Hart composition, “I Wanna Be Free,” which Davy Jones sang on the Monkees’ first record. It’s not one that is often covered, and Keith Allison does a good job with it.


He also covers my two favorite Donovan songs – “Colours” and “Catch The Wind.” He takes “Colours” and makes it more of a country rock song, and it totally works. I really like his version a lot. It has a wonderful feel to it. There is some nice work on harmonica during the instrumental section.

“Catch The Wind” is my favorite Donovan song. Donovan himself has approached this song in many ways over the years, and each version has worked brilliantly. This is an inherently excellent song. Keith Allison starts his rendition like Donovan’s first folk version, then lets the song build, adding country-rock elements, and it sounds beautiful. This song works for me every time. And Keith’s version is a little longer, which is nice.

“Freeborn Man”

Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few versions of “Freeborn Man.” It’s a wonderful song, and here is the original version, co-written by Keith Allison and Mark Lindsay, and it is absolutely delightful. This country-rock gem has some fun lyrics, such as these lines: “I pick oranges down in Florida/I pick cotton in Alabam/I pick walnuts up in Oregon/I pick a guitar when I can.” And of course, these: “You may not like my appearance/You may not like my song/You may not like the way I talk/But you like me when I’m gone.”

“Action, Action, Action”

“Action, Action, Action” is the song used as the theme for the television show Where The Action Is. It was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and it’s a fun, innocent kind of rock tune, even including hand-claps. The mono single version is also included on this CD.

“I Ain’t Blamin’ You”

Keith Allison has a lot of control over his voice, and can do a lot with it. Compare his delivery on something like “Louise” or “Action, Action, Action” to his delivery on the sad and pretty “I Ain’t Blamin’ You.” Written by Al Stillman and Joe Brooks, “I Ain’t Blamin’ You” was released as a single in 1966.

Its flip side, “Look At Me,” is one Keith Allison wrote and which at the beginning reminds me quite a bit of Buddy Holly’s “Words Of Love.” I love the harmonica on this track.

Keith Allison tackles a couple of good old rock and roll tunes in his medley of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” As you might expect, this track is a whole lot of fun, bursting with energy.

“Toad Jam Blues” is a cool instrumental track with a nice groove. Written by Keith Allison and Mark Lindsay, this is a track I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. It's the only instrumental track on this CD.


This collection is rounded out with Keith Allison’s 1970 single, “Everybody.” This is another fun track, one he wrote, which features some delicious work on guitar. Its flip side is the beautiful “Wednesday’s Child,” which Keith wrote with his then-wife Judy Allison and Mark Lindsay.

CD Track List

  1. Louise
  2. I’m A Believer
  3. Freeborn Man
  4. Lies
  5. I Wanna Be Free
  6. Colours
  7. Good Thing
  8. Action, Action, Action
  9. Catch The Wind
  10. Leave My Woman Alone
  11. Do It
  12. Action, Action, Action
  13. Glitter And Gold
  14. I Ain’t Blamin’ You
  15. Look At Me
  16. Who Do You Love
  17. I Don’t Want Nobody But You
  18. Birds Of A Feather
  19. To Know Her Is To Love Her
  20. Johnny B. Goode/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
  21. Toad Jam Blues
  22. Everybody
  23. Wednesday’s Child

In Action/The Complete Columbia Sides Plus was released on April 1, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

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