Various Artists

GS I Love You: Japanese Garage Bands of the '60s

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Japan, like many non-English-speaking countries, was home to a thriving garage/beat band scene in the 1960s. The Japanese scene, at least to Western ears, was more peculiar than most: for one thing, it didn't really kick into gear until well into 1966, and Japanese groups were still playing in an early British Invasion-influenced style until the end of the decade. Singing in both Japanese and heavily accented English, the guitars (as a result of the Ventures huge popularity there) were surf-ish Mosrites, and the material was often a strange fusion of Merseybeat, punk, and over-the-top weirdness. GS I Love You is a 28-track compilation of songs originally released on the Crown and Teichiku labels, and while it's no match for the British groups (or, for that matter, the best beat/punk groups from Holland and Sweden), it's truly like no other '60s rock you've heard. The guitar work is often frenzied and imaginative; the vocals walk the line between tough raunch and low comedy, particularly when they mangle English phonetics (the Swing West's version of Arthur Brown's "Fire," as well as the Out Cast's butchering of "Long Tall Sally" defy printed description). Sound quality and liner notes (in English) are excellent, and cuts like the Blue Jeans "One More Please" are genuinely good fusions of pop and punk, making this a good pickup for the more adventurous '60s collector.

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