The Druids of Stonehenge


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Formed as the Druids in 1965, the Druids of Stonehenge started out as a garage rock band playing the sort of British Invasion-influenced R&B that was all the rage in the hipper enclaves of the teenage nation, but psychedelia had clearly entered their field of vision by the time they cut their first and only album, Creation, for Uni in 1967, and much of what makes the record enjoyable is the way they manage to walk on both sides of the fence at once. Lead singer David Budge has a vocal snarl that's an impressive fusion of Mick Jagger and Eric Burdon, and even on gossamer-weight material like "Six Feet Down," "Earthless," and a cover of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," he sounds like the most attitudinal kid on the block spoiling for a fight, which feels a bit incongruous at times, but also gives the quiet numbers enough muscle to stand up to their harder-rocking kin. The covers of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" and Love's "Signed D.C." are smart, effective, and show these guys had fine record collections, and while it's anyone's guess how Bo Diddley's "Bring It to Jerome" became "Bring It on Home," the six-minute-plus workout has enough bite that it doesn't overstay its welcome. Guitarists Carl Hauser and Billy "B.T." Tracy merge folky jangle and tough rock & roll crunch with nimble grace, and the rhythm section of Tom Paine Workman on bass and Steve Tindall on drums is flexible enough to float on the trippy stuff and stomp hard when the time comes to rock. And if the original material runs hot and cold, the best numbers -- the hip anti-drug number "Speed," the spooky but languid "Six Feet Down," and the tight guitar groove of "Pale Dream" -- suggest they could have moved on to better things had they stuck around longer. If you want to know what those kids who wanted to be the Stones or the Pretty Things would sound like if they dropped acid and liked it, Creation is as good a simulation of this formula as any, and it deserves its rep as a minor garage/psych classic.

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