Archive for the ‘ Garage ’ Category

The Savages “Live ‘N Wild”

Live N Wild

Good rock n roll is supposed to move you emotionally or “blow you away.” Great artists like Bob Dylan or the 13th Floor Elevators have always been brutally honest, searched for meaning and never gave in to commercial demands. Many years ago rock n roll was powerful because it never made any promises. Recordings were murky, guitars distorted and trebly and vocalists were love-struck gods. The Savages Live ‘N Wild album is one of the great holy grails of rock music.

Very few of these albums were pressed, and as time went on Live ‘N Wild only became harder to come by. The Savages created a private press album that possesses clarity, vision and originality. The group cut the album live in Bermuda, 1965. The sound quality and musicianship is excellent, sounding like many studio cut garage albums of the day. The only low point of the album is a competent cover of the Drifters classic, On Broadway.

It’s rare for a private press garage album to mainly consist of originals, let alone good originals (9 of the 12 songs). Like the Rising Storm, the Savages effectively mixed slow moody folk-rock-like compositions with garage raunch. The most famous number here is a garage-punk classic, The World Ain’t Round, It’s Square. It’s an aggressive, trebly mess with angry, tormented screams and is by far the heaviest song amongst the batch.

Quiet Town is very introspective and mysterious, sounding like a 1965 lost Zombies single which hints at the darkness within. Kudos has to be given to the Savages for covering the great Icelandic band Thor’s Hammer with He’s A Man. The Savages version may best the Hammer’s for sheer recklessness and soul. Two other numbers, Gone To The Moon and I Believe are naive teenbeat that glow with sincerity and show a band with a lot of heart.

This is really what rock n roll is all about, cutting straight to the heart. These guys must have been garage kings amongst the affluent who resided in Bermuda. In a perfect world they would have been millionares. The proof is within this stunningly great, lost record.

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“Quiet Town”

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P.F. Sloan “Twelve More Times”

Twelve More Times

P.F. Sloan is one of America’s great artists. It’s truly a shame that his work is not as celebrated (or in print) as other pop figures from the 1960’s. From 1965 to 1967 few artists were as prolific as Sloan.

He released 2 great albums, numerous quality singles, an album under the Grass Roots name in 1966 and produced a plethora of outtakes which are currently unavailable on compact disc. Sloan also wrote numerous folk-pop hits for many popular acts of the day which include the Turtles, Barry McGuire and many others. One of the best songwriters of his generation, Sloan also had good vocals that were moody and just right for rock music.

The 1966 album, Twelve More Times was an electrified folk-rock album, dealing with more sophisticated subject matter as compared to his 1965 debut. From A Distance, Here’s Where You Belong, Upon A Painted Ocean and Lollipop Train sound like they could have been hit singles. Sloan calls upon a style that mixes 1966 Bob Dylan, Tambourine era Byrds, folk-rock era Beau Brummels, and the Leaves on some of their more garage oriented efforts. I Found A Girl, is completely acoustic and a lovely naive folk lullaby in which Sloan spreads the joys of finding a girl. The above mentioned Lollipop Train is more teenage heartbreak, primitive, but an astonishing treasure.

This was a time when so many rock musicians were making great music but it was not being noticed or hitting the air waves. Halloween Mary is a great Bob Dylan cop that has some excellent girl put-down lyrics and good hooky guitar riffs. Let Me Be is also killer, a slice of proto power pop finding the singer analyzing himself over some acoustic guitars and pounding drums.

This album has a lot of character and punk bite, something that many of those great folk-rock albums had. It’s a tragedy that Sloan’s first two albums are unavailable on compact disc. They are truly lost classics!

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“Halloween Mary”

Mouse and the Traps “The Fraternity Years”

Fraternity Years

Yet another Texas group, the great Mouse and the Traps existed throughout the mid to late 60’s, sadly never having a chance to release an album. They did record a bunch of singles though, some of which are under different names/alias’. This compilation covers most of their singles and some outtakes (contains 25 of the 30 or so songs they recorded).

Nearly all of these songs are good and well worth a listen. On single, they forged 3 unabashed classics: A Public Execution, Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice and Sometimes You Just Can’t Win (a soulful why me rocker). Public Execution was a song that many radio listeners mistook for Bob Dylan’s next big single in 1966. This song as well as the excellent garage punk rocker Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice has been anthologized on Nuggets. Public Execution, while a great song, is not the best on this superb compilation, sounding like a bubblegum garage version of Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone. The followup, Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice is one of the greatest mid 60’s hard rockers with a great speaker shredding, mind frying guitar solo. This legendary performance showed the band could tear it up, they were strong musicians and Mouse was a good singer who speckled his songs with clever lyrics.

The album runs the gamut, showing the Traps to be a diverse unit that played love torn country-rock, psychedelia, sunshine pop, tex-mex, blues-rock, folk-rock and garage-rock (all effectively). Nobody Cares and I Am The One really catch the ear as melodic folk-rockers with a defiant edge and great outsider lyrics. Also, I Satisfy and Beg, Borrow and Steal are psychedelia with tons of fuzz, crazied vocals and imagination. They even released a nice baroque pop/psych-pop single under the Chris St. John name.

The Traps had personality in spades and it’s really strange how they did not succeed commercially/artistically. They ceased to exist by the early 70’s and by then the dream had faded.

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“Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice”

The Night Shadows “Square Root of Two”

Square Root of Two

The Night Shadows were one of the first and longest lived garage bands. They started out in the 50’s hailing from Georgia and first received notoriety when releasing the dirty, perverted garage rock single Garbage Man. The early 60’s were not kind to the Night Shadows as they went through various lineup changes. Other singles followed though, influenced by the British Invasion, utilizing feedback and other current recording techniques. In 1966 a new revived Night Shadows (including Little Phil) released the excellent 60 Second Swinger. It’s similar to the Seed’s efforts from around the same time but the Night Shadow’s cleary had more instrumental prowess and experience behind them.

In 1968 they released their psychedelic masterpiece, Square Root of Two. Square Root of Two has some rerecorded psychedelic interpretations of earlier singles along with then current compositions. Of the 11 songs there are a few throw away tracks such as the Prologue, Hot Dog Man and Turned On. These songs are a little too self indulgent with sped up vocals, lengthy commentary, backward tapes, phased guitars and just plain stupidness. The rest of the lot fairs much better though and even with the above mistakes this album still rates as a prime slice of acid punk.

I Can’t Believe follows the silly intro on side one and is nine and a half minutes of fuzz guitar soloing and howling courtesy of Little Phil. Somehow it all works and the psychedelic versions of Plenty of Trouble, 60 Second Swinger and So Much work well too. Plenty of Trouble sounds like a devil chant with shakers and wicked vocals from Phil. The classic 60 Second Swinger is transformed into a hard, bluesy garage shuffle with some Itchycoo Park-like organ and a fake live intro. Most essential though are Anything But Lies and So Much. Anything But Lies is characterized by distorted, angry vocals and jackhammer riffs while So Much has great stinging acid guitar and is psych punk perfection. The Square Root of Two is a good, forgotten album that should not be missed by garage psych fans.

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“So Much (1967 Version)”

The Downliners Sect “The Country Sect”

Country Sect

Sandwiched in between two great mod punk/garage blues albums and some classic singles is Country Sect, the Downliners Sect’s second album released way back in 1965. This is one of the earliest country rock records and most definitely the first by a British band.

When the album was released it met with critical backlash and was considered a commercial suicide. Listening to this music today, 40 plus years later, it sounds fresh and unlike anything in the country rock canon. Just imagine four or five drunk Brits playing their favorite old country and blues songs in the basement (essentially a monumental country album made in the garage with genuine redneck spirit) but with focus and intensity.

The intensity reaches a peak with an excellent country blues cover Rocks In My Bed. This composition is raw as hell and feature’s some old fashioned piano and crazied Don Craine screaming. Hard Travellin’ is similar in mood and is a life affirming sh*t-kicking country rocker. Also, Ballad Of The Hounds, Above And Beyond and Wait For The Light To Shine really capture that backwoods sound effectively and some other numbers are even augmented with banjo and washboard. They throw in a sensitive folk-rock protest number with Little Play Soldiers and hark back to their British Invasion roots with the mysterious, uncertain Bad Storm Coming.

These guys were really one of the ultimate punk bands; they did what they pleased and made no apologies. You can hear and feel this attitude throughout the album. Country Sect is so special, so different, it’s the kind of record that is misunderstood more often than most. Give it some time though and you’ll hear why musicians like Billy Childish rave about the Downliners Sect and this superb album.

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“Bad Storm Coming”

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Brian Eno “Another Green World”

Another Green World

There are four Eno albums that sort-of go together. These are his first four solo albums after leaving Roxy Music: Here Come The Warm Jets (1973), Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974), Another Green World (1975), and Before & After Science (1977). I could have chosen any one of these recently remastered digipak albums to review today (and probably will get to them all soon enough), but Another Green World jumps out at me first every time.

Don’t expect ambient, experimental, exclusively electronic non-music or anything you have previously associated with Eno’s incredible body of work. This album, as well as the others listed here, is part of Eno’s pop-rock masterpiece phase, at once a listenable rock album and a piece of certifiable Eno art.

The first time I heard this record though, I was really digging it, until Brian started singing. But rest assured, you will learn to love and appreciate his vocal style, as much as you will learn to love each “sound painting” arranged within this perfect album.

Also of note, this album synchronizes excellently (a la Dark Side of the Rainbow) with the 1984 Disney film Where The Toys Come From. I forget exactly which “roar of the lion” to sync them up with, but that doesn’t really matter.

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“Another Green World”

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Brian Eno - Another Green World

The Pretty Things “S.F. Sorrow”

SF Sorrow

“She Says Good Morning”

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The Pretty Things - S.F. Sorrow

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