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The Creation - Creation Theory album review

Action-painting mod experimenters in a definitive box

Eddie Phillips is a genuine unsung hero. As the guitarist in The Creation, he really was one of the most inventive axemen out there. As great as Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend? Quite probably. The Creation, with Phillips at the helm, released a series of explosive singles and an important album in the 60s that utilised feedback and dissonance and introduced the playing of the guitar with a violin bow, a technique later popularised, of course, by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin.

Creation Theory looks set to finally bring Phillips his due. Everything you need by the band is collected together over four CDs and a DVD. We get all those essential 60s recordings in both mono and stereo form. Their first single, 1966’s Shel Talmy-produced Making Time, beds lead singer Kenny Pickett’s sneery vocal in crunching power chords, pounding drums and features Phillips’ fearsome violin-bowed guitar solo.

The same year’s Painter Man sets the template for theatrical pop art – when played live, Pickett would create an action painting with spray paints and a canvas, before setting it alight. 1967’s How Does It Feel To Feel is a heavy mod-psych classic. By this time, bassist Bob Garner is on vocal duties after Pickett’s departure and, taking Aldous Huxley’s The Doors Of Perception as a template, his discomfiting title refrain is drowned in Phillips’ feedback to soundtrack the archetypal bad trip.

Less essential but still great is the inclusion of the first four singles from The Mark Four, the band which evolved into The Creation, and the reformed Creation’s 1996 Power Surge album plus solo recordings by Phillips from 1990 and 2011. The draw of the DVD, meanwhile, is the inclusion of The Creation’s two live appearances on the German 60s TV show Beat Beat Beat, taken from the original tapes.

The only quibble is the inclusion of the shelved 1987 album Psychedelic Rose, which is dreadful. But considering the richness of the other material on offer, it’s not that big a deal.