In 1965, having already managed the Rolling Stones to the top of the international charts, Andrew Loog Oldham launched a label. Immediate Records whose eclectic roster included the Small Faces, Keith Emerson's Nice, the original Fleetwood Mac, and Rod Stewart became one of the decade's hippest, most musically imaginative pop/rock producers. Most of these tracks will be unfamiliar to all but connoisseurs of vintage British pop, but both CDs on The Immediate Singles Collection are amply stocked with great songs and performances that don't need household names to recommend them.
On Vol. 1, the Masterminds transport Bob Dylan to Carnaby Street, while future Velvet Undergrounder Nico gives a Linda Ronstadt-like reading to a sappy Gordon Lightfoot song and P.P. Arnold demonstrates how Anglo-American soul is supposed to sound. Vol. 2 is heavy on cover versions: The Nice blast through ''America'' (from West Side Story), two bands give surf-rock a British accent via Beach Boys songs, and there's much more magic. B+