The Artwoods - Singles A's & B's MP3/Flac
The 18 songs on this CD, comprising the group's entire single and EP output, are some of the best British-spawned R&B of their time, and can stand alongside the best work of the Animals, Manfred Mann, or the Yardbirds in that vein. The Artwoods were a virtuoso outfit from the get-go, with a natural feel for the music as singers and players, whether they were working in the vein of Sam & Dave or Booker T. & the MG's, or just having fun in the studio as they do on several of the B-sides represented here. They were good at improvising in the studio and had a slightly more jazzy feel to their playing than a lot of their rivals -- their records are amazingly busy, between Jon Lord's piano and organ flourishes, Keef Hartley's very flashy drumming, and Malcolm Pool's extremely active bass work; what's more, on their B-sides, it's possible to hear the very beginnings of what became progressive rock in the hands of outfits like the Nice, at a point when the virtuosity was still focused on R&B and soul. Even their cover of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" works within the context of British R&B. The Artwoods treaded a fine line between Manfred Mann and Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames, but they really sounded like no one else. There's not a bad cut here, even the trio of pop-rock covers ("A Taste of Honey," "Our Man Flint," etc.) that they hesitated to release at the time for fear of looking like they were selling out. The mastering is excellent, and if this were an LP, it's the sort of release purchasers would need more than one of because they'd wear out their first copies.