Patron Saints

Before Bohob, Vol. 1

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Eric Bergman, leader of the Patron Saints over the years, is clearly having some fun with this archival release -- which is appropriate, given that fun was the goal of the band at the time of these tapes. But a serious fun, as his extensive liner notes describe, with two discs covering that many years' worth of the group as an enthusiastic bunch of teenagers out to be the local heroes in their hometown and the surrounding area. It's the story of heaven knows how many singers and bands over the past decades, and on that level, Before Bohob, Vol. 1 is a gentle indulgence for the hardcore Patron Saints fan more than anything else, a souvenir of a quintet working out a repertoire of covers both famous and obscure for dances, shows, and other get-togethers. Bergman's tells tales song for song, detailing everything from lyrics misheard on cheap record players to attempts to re-create studio sounds live as best as possible (or even to make the arrangements better, or at least different), hold as much interest as the music -- arguably more! -- but the 45-song set, if near overkill, still makes for a great document of a time and place. There's almost no repetition of any songs, while what's on display shows the band's own interests and inspirations more readily than a simple list could. The quintet's love for the Rolling Stones is paramount -- familiar hits are assayed but so are less well-known album cuts (even alternate versions, thus the cover-of-a-cover of the Stones' U.K. recording of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" -- but the Monkees, the Beatles, the Paul Butterfield Band, Jimi Hendrix and Moby Grape (courtesy of a great rip through "Omaha" -- the third one in an evening, due to audible audience demand) all pop up. Sound quality varies from the just-above-muddy-bootleg to reasonably clear, especially given the rough and ready equipment used, and that this is a curiosity first and foremost is clear enough. But it's one unburdened by nostalgia in and of itself -- at the time, after all, the band were tackling what was new and exciting for them there and then -- and whatever thoughts parents and teachers might have had about the five teens at the time, now it just sounds like what it was -- kids having a blast coupled with their desire to do it as well as they could.

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