Reviews

Chip Lamey

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 9 LP

I’ve always had a fondness for Ohio ’60s punk, and this is a wonderful collection. One can hear all kinds of wild sounds—pure punk, folk-rock, psychedelia, British beat style, instrumentals—that reveal that Ohio was one of the more interesting scenes. Some of the stars include the DEADLYS, the SQUIRES, the CHYLDS, and of course, Cleveland’s “BEATLES,” the CHOIR, one of the finest groups this country has ever produced. Please, A.I.P., we need more volumes from Ohio!

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 8 LP

It’s been a tough chore for ’60s punk fans to learn about the Southern scene, and this volume from one of the best of the reissue series helps to fill in a few of the many holes. A lot of Southern bands were pretty lame, as they concentrated on a more soulful approach with dopey horn arrangements. This release proves that there were also some tough punkers, like the RAVIN’ BLUE, the GAUNGA DINS, the ROGUES, and the HAZARDS, whose funny version of “Hey Joe” is alone worth the price of the album.

Zakary Thaks J-Beck Story 2 LP

Legendary Texas group ZAKARY THAKS were obviously inspired by British bands like the KINKS (they even covered “I Need You”), ROLLING STONES, and YARDBIRDS, as they delivered suburban R&B with a healthy dose of rhythm guitar, angry lead vocals, and some decent lead solos. “Bad Girl” was probably their best shot for national recognition, though other tracks are equally impressive. There are a few overly bluesy or psych numbers, but this is still a must for any collection of ’60s punk.

The Things Coloured Heaven LP

This new garage-psych band might be a bit too laid back for most readers of MRR, but I hope a few brave souls will venture out and pick it up. The Things have obviously been influenced by the likes of the BYRDS, LOVE, and maybe QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, yet they retain a raw garage sound that keeps them from sounding mushy. Steve Crabtree has a knack for writing infectious tunes that make excellent use of his voice and melodic guitar style. A gem of an album.

The Standells Rarities LP

This collection of B-sides, non-LP singles, etc., is really aimed at the hardcore garage fanatic who has to own everything (like myself). There’s obvious trash here (like “When I Was a Cowboy”), but there are plenty of others that are sheer genius, most notably “Riot on Sunset Strip,” “Get Away from Here,” and “Rari.” But, looking back, that’s what the Standells were usually like, brilliant one moment and mediocre the next. For what it’s worth, I’m glad this STANDELLS record exists, but if you’re not totally blown apart by the sounds of ’60s punk, then try to hear it before spending your hard-earned cash.

V/A The Chosen Few Vol. 2 LP

Here’s a strong follow-up to the excellent garage punk compilation The Chosen Few. Again, we’re given some of the most primitive, demented, fuzz-drenched ’60s punk ever unleashed on vinyl. Like volume one, this is extremely consistent, and it should hold some surprises for even the most knowledgeable collector. Some of the groups include the SYNDICATE, the PRIMATES, TERRY KNIGHT, the LEGENDS, the PLAGUE, etc.

The New Colony Six Breakthrough LP

Although they ended up being nothing more than a schmaltzy pop band, the NEW COLONY SIX started their career in the mid-’60s with this mighty, near-perfect punk album. The group had a solid rhythm section, no-frills guitar breaks, and, most importantly, a domineering organ. They were also blessed with the ability to sing in harmony, which probably contributed to their eventual downfall, but the vocals here perfectly offset their crisp garage sound.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 4-7 LPs

Volumes 4 and 5 are essential to any garage punk fanatic, as they give a good representation of regional scenes in the ’60s. #4 deals with Chicago and brings together a nice blend of pop/folk rock/R&B punk groups. Especially cool are the LITTLE BOY BLUES’ “The Great Train Robbery,” the REASONS WHY’s “All I Really Need Is Love,” BUZZSAW’s “Live in the Springtime,” and GROUP INC.’s “Like a Woman.” Volume 5 concerns itself with Michigan, and again the results are wild. Particularly hot are the BOSSMEN’s “I’m Ready,” the UNDERDOGS’ “Surprise, Surprise,” the LEGENDS’ “I’ll Come Again,” and, most of all, a super-rare radio ad by the RATIONALS. Volumes 6 and 7 just came out, with #6 dealing again with Michigan, and #7 covering the Pacific Northwest.

The Fantastic Dee-Jays The Fantastic Dee-Jays LP

Another highly collectible item rescued from obscurity by Eva. Pittsburgh’s FANTASTIC DEE-JAYS (later SWAMP RATS) responded to the British Invasion with some wonderful fuzzy garage punkers like “Get Away Girl.” Their album has some other great ravers, but there are a few too many Beat ballads to win over non-believers in ’60s punk. Nevertheless, the slower tracks sound like GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS produced by Darby Crash, so one is still able to enjoy most of them.

V/A Back From the Grave, Vol. 2 LP

For my money, the most essential ’60s compilations beside the Pebbles series and Nuggets are the two Back from the Grave collections. Unlike other releases, there’s never any psychedelic sounds, just primo teenage punk served up with plenty of guts, enthusiasm, and anger. Reams could be written about classics on this album like the UNRELATED SEGMENTS’ “Cry, Cry, Cry,” the BANSHEES’ “They Prefer Blondes,” the LYRICS’ “They Can’t Hurt Me,” and “The Crusher” by the NOVAS. Not a duff cut, but plenty of fuzz. Truly amazing.

The Nomads Where the Wolf Bane Blooms 12″

This Swedish four-piece must have problems getting gigs, as their sound is pure ’60s-style garage punk. Their main influences seem to be from the Pacific Northwest, most notably the SONICS and the WAILERS, yet the NOMADS also display some rockabilly tendencies. They are modern masters in the war of distortion, and fans of the CHESTERFIELD KINGS, the UNCLAIMED, and the FLESHTONES should check them out.

V/A What a Way to Die LP

Here’s a wild ’60s garage punk compilation that’ll liven up any party. There are plenty of frantic rockers here, but what makes it a vital purchase are songs like RICHARD & THE YOUNG LIONS’ powerful “You Can Make It,” “I’m Gone” but the MAGIC MUSHROOMS, and the title track, an early B-side from the PLEASURE SEEKERS, an all-women band who’d rather drink beers than hang out with the guys. Neat stuff.

V/A Hipsville 29 B.C. LP

A personal favorite. What’s nice about this new compilation, besides the usual amazing obscure groups like the SPARKLES, the WHAT-NOTS, the HANGMEN OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY, etc., is that it shows just how widespread the ’60s garage revolution actually was. For example, included are the Kings of Wimp, the COWSILLS, with their intense “All I Wanta Be Is Me,” and BEAVER (Jerry Mather, the Beav) & THE TRAPPERS’ “Happiness Is Havin’.” I wonder what Ward thought of this longhair nonsense! An added plus is the two tracks by the VAGRANTS from Long Island.

V/A The Chosen Few Vol. 1

This compilation of ’60s sounds has been an instant hit among experts of the genre, and for good reason. The quality of the material is uniformly high, from the opening number by the GONN to the closing one by THEE WYLDE MAIN-IACS. Most of the bands here possessed the knack for creating a mad mixture of mind-blowing psychedelia and teenage garage punk. Pay close attention to the TIDES IN, the SHAMES, and the aforementioned WYLDE MAIN-IACS.

The Dimensions From All Dimensions LP

Listening to this reissue, I‘m sure the DIMENSIONS used to terrorize high school dances in the Chicago suburbs back in the swinging ’60s with their crude re-workings of yesterday’s hits. The songs, such as the KINKS’ “I Need You,” the Stones’ “Empty Heart,” and the RAIDERS’ “Just Like Me,” are all familiar, but the DIMENSIONS’ spirit makes them worth adding to your record shelf.