Friday, April 27, 2018

VA - Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns (4 double CD)

Lenny Kaye started the mania for collecting overlooked garage punk classics with his superlative 1972 compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, and more than four decades later, garage rock collectors are still pouring out collections of rare vinyl singles documenting snarky teens bashing out rock & roll in their parents' basements or garages in the mid-'60s. One can't help but wonder if the well will ever run dry on such things, and Tim Warren, Crypt Records founder and the man behind the outstanding Back from the Grave series, seems to be suggesting that vintage garage material is becoming a dwindling resource in the title of 2015's Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 1-2. But if there are fewer hidden treasures out there, Warren is still going a bang-up job of digging up choice obscurities, and this set features 29 fine if little-known rock & roll sides full of cheap guitars, pounding drums, and adolescent snark. While most of these tracks lean to the more melodic and less fuzzy end of the garage spectrum, the attitude is still plenty ferocious on most tunes, and these performances stomp hard. The Electric Sensation speak with eloquent annoyance about a gal named "Mary," the Krels chart the previously undiscovered link between some yeti-like creature and acid rock on "Psychedelic Feelin'," the Colonials cram many possible double meanings into "Crawdad," "Careless Love" by Our Gang delivers plenty of menace along with some quality harp work and reverb-drenched guitar, the Expressions let loose with all sorts of romantic teen angst on "One More Night," and the Dirt Merchants show just how much they love the song "Little Black Egg" on "I Found Another Girl." As usual for Crypt's anthology releases, the sound quality is quite good on this material, and while Warren hasn't been able to track down information on all the artists, what is here is well researched and fun to read. It's impossible to say how much more of this stuff remains undiscovered, but Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 1-2 shows there's still great music out there that most '60s rock mavens have yet to hear. (And since Vols. 3-4 is in the works, this isn't the end of the line just yet.)

1965-1967 Vol. 1-2

1965-1967 Vol.3-4


1965-1967 Vol. 5-6


 If anyone knows angst, it's a teenager, a breed that thrives on wearing misery on their sleeves. Fans of vintage '60s garage rock usually favor sneering delinquents armed with fuzz pedals, but there was a long-running subgenre of garage rock that dealt with heartbroken guys trying to make sense of a cold, unforgiving world (or at the very least, cold, unforgiving girls). Crypt Records has given these bummed-out classics their due on Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 7-8, subtitled "Heartbroken American Garage Jangle Misery 1963-1967." While that description isn't 100-percent accurate geographically (the White Angels were from Switzerland, and a combo called the Sonics -- no, not those Sonics -- were comprised of American kids whose families were living in Thailand), musically it's close to the mark. Many of these tunes fall somewhere in the vicinity of folk rock, or at least something with a significantly more measured approach than the average high-attitude rantings common to '60s garage sounds. And a bunch of this stuff sounds significantly more sophisticated than what most sullen high schoolers were up to at the time. "Without You" by the King's Ransom is moody stuff with clever use of rhythms and melodic stops and starts. The lean, wiry guitar figures that carry "Natasha" by the Glas Menagerie suggest early psychedelia fused with the Velvet Underground. The Other Side's cover of "Dark Side" by the Shadows of Knight trades in the cockiness of the original for a powerful plea that's just as effective. We the People (not the Florida band of "Mirror of your Mind" infamy) manage to have it both ways as "Always Lies" opens as a quiet, sorrowful number and builds into a scream-fest for lead singer Peter Weeple. The Saxons deliver plenty of tough guitar work on "The Way of the Down," which also includes some overly optimistic applause and cheering clipped onto the beginning and end. And the New Rumley Invincibles find some humor amid the heartache in "Living with the Birds," which suggests the band had been listening to birds and Byrds. Even the most ordinary bands on this collection deliver solid stuff, the remastering makes the best of the source materials, and the entertaining liner notes offer as much information as is known about the artists. (Though someone must have been really excited about the essay on Pasco, Washington's the Pastels, since it appears here twice.) If you want to get in touch with your inner 16-year-old who just got stood up for the Prom, Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 7-8 will deliver the perfect soundtrack for crying in your root beer. (Or real beer you swiped from your dad.)



1 comment:

  1. Any chance of a reup of this post? The Mega links are dead...

    I'd appreciate it!

    All the best to you from Pee-Pee Soaked Heckhole


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