Thursday, July 22, 2004

FOURTH TIME'S THE CHARM (I #*$#*$& hope!)

Hi-Lost three prior posts today for the stupidest of all reasons...first one after leaving the post page to find an address to link up, the second one when I somehow highlighted the entire post which thusly obliterated, and the third when I went to "save as draft" and it somehow disappeared entirely! So, for the fourth try I'm gonna do SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT and change subject matter from mid-period Amon Duul II releases and what I think of 'em now as opposed to when I first heard them in 1976 to this new 2-CD set I just got hold of entitled IT CAME FROM THE GARAGE, and it was issued by Canuckian Sony as well!

You remember NUGGETS of course, but do you remember the other sixties punk compilation to come out about the same time? Actually it was never released, but it was' what I'm talking about is the "Glo's Guest Star Punk Rock Top 20" make-your-own C-60 cassette compilation #2 cartoon that was originally published in a 1972 issue of FUSION which was so good that I reprinted it in BLACK TO COMM #19 (page 54 to be exact) in order to illustrate a review of the Mad Peck book which I had just gotten hold of at the time. I dunno if this or NUGGETS came first, but I gotta admit that the Dennis "The Menace" Roth who compiled this thing had a good sense on what punk rock was at least up to that point in time. No "proto-punk" for Roth, for this was the real-deal punk rock history as only a real punk who actually buys the records and lives and breathes 'em could decipher it! Starting with Barrett Strong's "Money" and going up through the Yardbirds, Stones, Troggs, ? and the Mysterians, Shadows of Knight et. al. up through the Velvet Underground and Steppenwolf ending with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," this tape seemed to be about as exciting a sampler as NUGGETS was, a real pop-in-the-car-deck wonder custom built not only for driving but for playing THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE which certainly differed from the soundtrack of sixties hasbeens and singer-songwriters sweeties who made up a good portion of bad music 1972. The best thing about this is that it was compiled in that best/worst of times year of '72, long before garage band consciousness hit even a small portion of mid-Amerigan booger-noses out there of whom this music was custom made for, but who sadly eschewed the sounds of being raw and alive for music that was stillborn and lifeless. With all its intensity and energy, Roth's efforts may have seemed like a bloody memorial to all the fun and excitement the sixties offered before the advent of "Sopor Nation," a time when that tombstone with the names of all those sixties acts that appeared on the cover of SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE seemed the real, sad state of seventies disco-bump hippie culture that seemed to overtake the garage attitude in one fell swoop!

But times had changed...I mean, at the same time Greg Shaw seemed like rock's answer to Chaing predicting the overthrow of Mao with the whole "It's All Coming Back" campaign there were miniscule signs that maybe on some levels it was coming back after all! From the hot AM chart toppers the Sweet to the underground rumblings it did seem like there was something to look forward to, and although the big push never did come to shove and rock just got worser and worser until by the early-eighties it became one big MIMIC, there was a small but vocal minority striving to nurture the big beat, keeping not only the early rock primitivism in the hearts and minds of the few anxious acolytes but hyping and pumping the new bands who were keeping the sound alive until there was a point where...well, garage bands or punks or what-have-you were suddenly given their place at the table which might seem about thirty years too late, but better late'n never especially in this case!

I really like this brand-spanking-new package that Sony Special Products actually put out up in old Canada as well. It's as good as the Mad Peck punk tape, only instead of stopping at 1970 it takes us up to the present which might not quite suit all of the purists out there but then again I never was that pure myself so I don't mind. What I like about this is that it collects that hot old stuff and mixes it in with the new all out of sequence and somehow it even makes more sense, like it's all timeless and stuff from 1959 (like Link Wray's "Rawhide") can mingle with the Mooney Suzuki and you know, it does come off smoothly.

Yeah there is a lotta stuff here that doesn't quite qualify as "garage" even with my open-mind/borders approach to the term, but strangely enough it doesn't make you wanna run for cover like you might have even ten years ago. I mean, I could see the Byrds' "Feel a Whole Lot Better" being slapped on here though maybe a Beefeaters track woulda suited this compilation more, plus I dunno whose idea it was to put Tracey Ullman's gnu wave schmooze amidst the finer rock & roll offerings, but somehow the thing doesn't end up total hodgepodge crud. And another thing, there're no liner notes which makes me wonder if this is because there are no garage critics in Canada or if Sony's cheap. Probably the latter, but there are punk critiquers up there so why they didn't just hire Paul McGarry to do the thing is beyond me because he woulda turned in a soo-perb job. But despite this and that and the cheap generic 1990's closeup-of-guitarist playing wowee power chords cover more suitable for a heavy metal collection (at least a 1966 cheapie cover would have been better suited for an album of mid-sixties mentality music!) I like this for the wacky-yet-together song selection and the all over yet all together programming.

But what is here is fine...everything from Bob Dylan's "Subhome Blues" to the Easybeats, Spirit ("Line On You"...OK, borderline garage I guess) and the VU romping through "Waiting For My Man" and even though the Monkees, Hollies (?) and Donovan (!-at least the Jeff Beck inclusion made sense, but as far as British fops go I woulda preferred Tyrannosaurus Rex's "King of the Rumbling Spires" over "Hurdy Gurdy Man" anyday!) appear for some strange reason I guess it makes about as much sense calling these acts "garage rock" as calling Jethro Tull a heavy metal band. The seventies seem to be better represented despite the aforementioned Ullman gaffe, with the early Detroit brigade (Stooges and MC5) plus the just-pre-burst bands (Dics, Mod Lovers, Dolls...) and the late-seventies UK punquers sounding just as fine here as they did back when you first heard this stuff and flashed back to 1965 yourself! Even a total dork like Elvis Costello fits in well with this mess!!! And as for the "modern" groups that too many critics have told us play in "the tradition"...well, I guess the Mooney Suzuki, Chesterfield Kings and Las are about as modern as they could get here and they're fun enough true, but then again I'm kinda glad that the new generation of world-saving bands like the Vines, Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't get the opportunity to pop up amidst the classics and near-hits. True I haven't even heard any of these aggregates and wouldn't mind lending an ear to 'em one of these decades, but sometimes these compilers just gotta know when to say STOP!!!!!

Hey, it is pretty neat. Not exactly one of these constant spin things like the original NUGGETS was for me way too many lifetimes ago, but I'm glad there's something out there that sorta relates to me in the same duh way it related to me when I was a lot younger and hairier. And yeah, I'm also glad that there's a compilation, and a world out there where Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Vibrators and Mooney Suzuki could roam together, because really, didn't Greg Shaw just tell us the exact same thing was very possible well over thirty years back???

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