Forgotten series: The Prisoners – Hurricane: The Best Of The Prisoners (2004)

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Formed in 1980, the Prisoners always seemed right on the brink of making a major breakthrough, but despite such critical and public adoration, they remained a cult phenomenon.

Hailing from Rochester, Kent, England, the band was a visible presence on the scene until they broke up at the end of the decade. During this period, they released a trio of singles and four albums that revealed a healthy respect for the coolest cats of the 60s, while at the same time delivering the goods in a fresh manner aimed at the current crop of music listeners.

A fine introduction to the band, Hurricane: The Best Of The Prisoners,/i> (Big Beat Records) whirls, swirls and twirls with size, power and determination. The soulful timbre of a Hammond organ holds ground as a permanent fixture throughout the material, which blends well with the pop heavy hooks, towering choruses and galloping guitars piercing the sessions.

Specific highlights on the collection include “Whenever I’m Gone,” “I Am The Fisherman,” “Wish The Rain,” “Hurricane” and “Pop Star Party,” as they plainly display the band’s aptitude for depositing catchy arrangements, adventurous tempos and incisive rhythms by the barrel. The jaunty instrumental sketches of “Revenge Of The Cybermen” and the psychedelic signals of “Pretend” also step in as essential tracks.

Brash and bluesy vocals, roaring with passion, matched by abdominal amounts of elastic energy, clock in as further dominate forces driving the songs. Pinching a cue from the swinging sensations of the Animals, the Spencer Davis Group, the Pretty Things and the Small Faces, with sporadic shots of Byrdsian jangle thrown into the cup for good measure, the Prisoners may have plumbed the past for ideas, but they still succeeded at developing a sound and style more resourceful than the typical retro acts of the day.

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