Teenage Brit’s have always been attracted to the grittier realities of popular American culture. So it was in the mid fifties when rock’n’roll hit these shores, even though our forefathers remained stuck in a weary musical vacuum right up to 1962, homegrown rock’n’roll records being nothing more than weedy copies of American million sellers. When 1963 arrived, British youth was ripe for cultural change, teenagers desperately seeking anything to get excited about.


Dominated by The Beatles, Merseybeat fitted the bill perfectly. As the country went beat crazy, Liverpool was overrun by record company scouts indiscriminately scouring the clubs to sign anyone who could hold a tune. The Big Three, Johnny Sandon, Rory Storm and plenty more were all caught in the rush but the euphoria was short lived. By the summer of 1964 the golden days were already starting to fade.


Much fuss was made about the unique Mersey sound, but once groups had their rough edges smoothed off in the corporate recording process by fuddy duddy technicians twice their age, there was little to distinguish them from the rest of the country and groups like The Dave Clark Five from North London or The Redcaps from Birmingham. As huge and game changing as The Beatles supposedly were, the rest of the Mersey groups seemed incapable of presenting themselves as anything other than end of the pier, showbiz entertainers. It would be left to a different scene germinating in West London to pick up the reins and push on through. 


In the spring of 1962, Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies opened the country’s first R&B club in the suburb of Ealing to provide an outlet for a pack of youthful, arty, middle class males obsessed with the blues. Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were all Ealing Club devotees and by 1963 The Rolling Stones were a fully-fledged outfit, unwittingly smashing down the critical barrier for Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, The Animals, The Kinks and Them.


British R&B ran in tandem with the Beat boom, the two a part of the same equation; beat injecting the excitement, R&B providing a rougher edge and some mighty musical muscle. Much to the disgust of an outraged establishment The Stones were a near perfect marriage of the two but there were others, like blues purist John Mayall and the jazzier Georgie Fame, who concentrated on the differing elements of R&B. Both were popular amongst mods although ironically, for all their fire and skill, groups like The Who and the Small Faces who went all out to capitalise on the mod phenomenon were roundly ignored by the real hipsters.


The R&B and mod scenes continued to become more and more sophisticated through 1965, moving further and further away from their original American influences. In the end, 1966 proved to be the turning point of a tumultuous, life-changing era. It may have been the year of pop art, pop genius and Swinging London, but as soon as LSD hit the capital, the more enlightened groups turned on and tuned in, dropping all their former toughness for the new, blissed out realms of psychedelia.


01 THE BIG THREE ‘Some Other Guy’ (A Side March 1963)

02 CYRIL DAVIES ‘Country Line Special’ (A Side May 1963)

03 JOHNNY SANDON & THE REMO FOUR ‘Lies’ (A Side June 1963)

04 DAVE CLARK FIVE ‘Do You Love Me?’ (A Side September 1963)

05 MANFRED MANN ‘Cock A Hoop’ (A Side October 1963)

06 THE REDCAPS ‘Talkin’ Bout You’ (A Side December 1963)

07 RORY STORM & THE HURRICANES ‘I Can Tell’ (B Side December 1963)

08 GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ (R&B At The Flamingo LP February 1964)

09 STEVE ALDO ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do’ (A Side May 1964)

10 THE PRETTY THINGS ‘Rosalyn’ (A Side June 1964)

11 THE HIGH NUMBERS ‘I’m The Face’ (A Side July 1964)

12 DAVE BERRY & THE CRUISERS ‘Don’t Gimme No Lip Child’ (B Side July 1964)

13 DOWNLINERS SECT ‘Sect Appeal’ (B Side September 1964)

14 THE BEATLES ‘She’s A Woman’ (B Side November 1964)

15 ROLLING STONES ‘Little Red Rooster’ (A Side November 1964)

16 THE WHO ‘I Can’t Explain’ (A Side January 1965)

17 THE POETS ‘That’s The Way It’s Got To Be’ (A Side February 1965)

18 THE YARDBIRDS ‘Heart Full Of Soul’ (A Side July 1965)

19 THE MARK FOUR ‘Hurt Me If You Will’ (A Side August 1965)

20 THE SORROWS ‘You’ve Got What I Want’ (A Side October 1965)

21 JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS ‘I’m Your Witchdoctor’ (A Side October 1965)

22 THE KINKS ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’ (The Kink Kontroversy LP November 1965)

23 THEM ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ (Them Again LP January 1966)

24 THE ANIMALS ‘Inside Looking Out’ (A Side February 1966)

25 BELFAST GYPSIES ‘Secret Police’ (A Side March 1966)

26 THE SMALL FACES ‘You Need Loving’ (Small Faces LP May 1966)

27 WIMPLE WINCH ‘Save My Soul’ (A Side June 1966)

28 THE TROGGS ‘I Want You’ (B Side July 1966)

29 THE BIRDS ‘Say Those Magic Words’ (A Side September 1966)

30 THE FLIES ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ (A Side November 1966)