DO IT NOW
Various artists
Do It Now/Ronco Teleproducts LP 1001, circa 1970

There has never been any shortage of compilation albums over the years; some firms, such as the redoubtable K-Tel, seem to owe their very existence to repackaging other people's hits. During the Seventies, hundreds of compilations were issued, and while some of them, such as the Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, are still sought after today, most have faded away like their cardboard LP sleeves. Not too many were assembled with the betterment of humanity in mind; fewer still contained actual Beatles music.

LP sleeveThen there is Do It Now, which, according to the back panel, "is a celebration of life — a feeling of energy and love by the poets, artists and musicians who have joined together to speak for a purpose — to relay the message against drug abuse." And while I suppose one might argue that enlisting the aid of, say, Eric Burdon in the fight against drug use was rather like preventing forest fires by dousing cigarette butts with Shell Super-Premium, I'm not about to quibble with the liner's statement that "[n]ever before in the history of the recording industry have so many artists of such stature donated their services for a collage album."

In fact, the Do It Now Foundation, then based in Hollywood, had already put together an album called First Vibration, which contained some of these same tracks; it was apparently TV pitchman Ron Popeil's Ronco Teleproducts which persuaded the foundation to go for some wider distribution. Some of the more arcane tracks off First Vibration were replaced with out-and-out pop tunes, which makes for some odd juxtapositions here and there, but if you were fortunate in those times, your local FM rock outlet was producing some odd juxtapositions of its own.

While Do It Now surely didn't inspire George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh or Bob Geldof's Band Aid, not to mention USA for Africa, it does hold up today as a better-than-average late-Sixties compilation album; it's not wholly dependent on pop singles — some of these tunes didn't even get FM airplay — it doesn't seem to owe its existence to the magnanimity of any one record company, and, rarest of all, it has a track by the Beatles. If it's not unique, it's awfully close. About the only downside is the weird slowing-down of three tracks towards the end, as though the licensing firm were saying "We really don't want you to hear this correctly unless you buy a copy