The Outlaws

Return of the Outlaws

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The Outlaws' complete singles from 1961 through 1964 are assembled together on this CD, and the 18 songs trace the startling development of this legendary British instrumental band. The first eight sides, featuring Billy Kuy and Reg Hawkins on guitars, and Bobby Graham on drums, are some of the most delightfully off-kilter, country-styled rock instrumentals that one is likely to hear, the melodies owing a bit to rural (and western) music, but their treatment is straight from outer space, played with fierce articulation on the guitars and the electric bass and awash in reverb and lord-knows-what-else in producer Joe Meek's bag of tricks. And the last eight sides, featuring Ritchie Blackmore and Mick Underwood, kick the group's sound (and British rock & roll) forward anywhere from four years on up, depending upon how one assesses and counts -- "The Return of the Outlaws," "Keep a Knockin'," and "Shake With Me" are almost worth the price of the CD by themselves, in terms of their boldness and, in the latter two instances, their sheer out-of-place nature as early heavy metal and proto-punk artifacts; and the earlier sides with Kuy and Graham are icing on the cake, for those who appreciate either the work of Joe Meek or early-'60s British pop/rock instrumentals.