Friday, 21 July 2017
In the mid-'60s, Los Angeles was home to tough garage rock that rattled the city's teen clubs, while San Francisco acts tended to lean more towards the folk-rock and blues that would evolve into psychedelia. The bands that called Northern California's East Bay home seemed to be stuck somewhere in the middle -- tougher than the acts in the city Tony Bennett made famous, but no match for the L.A. bands.
The East Bay had a thriving garage rock scene in the days before acid changed the game, and You Got Yours! East Bay Garage 1965-1967 features 24 songs from some of the scene's best acts. Most of these tunes hardly represent teen angst at its most thunderous, but there's a surprising degree of professionalism on display, and the best acts here -- the Baytovens, the Harbinger Complex, Peter Wheat & the Breadmen, and the Spyders -- display chops far beyond what one would expect from teen bands.
There are a few doses of full-bore fuzztone on this set (most notably from the Just Six and Blue Lite Conspiracy), and the Soul Vendors and the Epics aren't afraid to show off the right teenage attitude. Fans of goofiness in rock will want to cue up "Dynosuar" by the Flintrocks and "Who Stole the Batmobile" by the Gotham City Crime Fighters (the latter group used to perform in bootleg Caped Crusader outfits, and featured future Tower of Power horn man Emilio Castillo on sax and keyboards), and the Shillings certainly get a prize for Best British Invasion Influenced Name, even if their music isn't quite so remarkable.
Top collection of garage bands from the sixties. Highly recommend!
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Make Your Mama Proud may not be the most innovative album on earth, but it certainly isn't lacking when it comes to being free-spirited and inspired and having a healthy sense of fun. Greatly influenced by punk and new wave's reckless aggression, as well as power-pop's love of memorable hooks, Fastball is a band that rocks intensely but isn't without a strong melodic sense. A variety of comparisons can be made -- everyone from the Knack, Elvis Costello and Generation X to the Beatles -- but freewheeling numbers like "Knock It Down," "Human Torch" and "Back Door" show that these natives of Austin, Texas have an appealing energy of their own.
Another fine album by power pop band Fastball.
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By rights, the Eyes of Blue should have an exalted place in the pantheon of art rock and progressive rock bands. They were around before almost all of them, and doing film work and making music in a jazz-rock fusion idiom before the latter had been understood, and they were signed to two major labels in succession, Deram and Mercury. Instead, except for drummer John Weathers, who later joined Gentle Giant, the Eyes of Blue are scarcely remembered at all. The Eyes of Blue started out as a jazz and rhythm & blues-oriented outfit (Graham Bond wrote the notes for their first album), doing songs in that vein as well as less well-suited material such as "Yesterday."
They were initially signed to Decca's progressive rock imprint Deram Records, and cut a series of excellent but neglected singles, and then moved to Mercury, where they concentrated on albums, enjoying their greatest musical if not commercial success. They were taken seriously enough to collaborate with Quincy Jones on the score of the movie Toy Grabbers, and the group actually managed to appear in the movie Connecting Rooms. Their early strength lay in R&B-based material, including Bond's "Love Is the Law," "Crossroads of Time," and "7 and 7 Is," but even on their first album, the Eyes of Blue showed some Eastern influences. Their second album had some tracks from the first film score as well as one Graham Bond song, but is more experimental, with extended instrumental passages and some classical music influences.
In late 1968, the Eyes of Blue backed Buzzy Linhart on a self-titled album, and they rated a supporting act spot at the Marquee Club in London in 1969, but their days were numbered given their lack of success as a recording outfit. Phil Ryan later played in Man, and John Weathers joined Pete Brown and Piblokto! on the Harvest label, before jumping to Gentle Giant.(allmusic)
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