Various Artists

Scarey Business

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These 30 mid-'60s garage/punkers were assembled from the vaults of three Los Angeles labels: Modern, Titan, and Downey. Modern is much more known as one of the major R&B/blues labels of the 1950s; the other two labels are scarcely known at all, except to those whose job it is to catalog as much 1960s rock as possible. As it turns out, not all of the garage bands recording for these companies (or their subsidiaries) were based in Southern California, some hailing from Northern California and other states, so it's not exactly a document of a slice of a regional scene (and doesn't purport to be). It's a reasonable, and definitely not stunning, assortment of mid-'60s garage rock from labels linked by close geography. Only a couple of these groups might be known to someone whose garage collection doesn't fill up an actual garage: the Brain Train, who evolved into the psychedelic group Clear Light, and the Wilde Knights, who recorded the original version of "Just Like Me." It's those groups that provide the undisputed highlights of this CD, one being the Brain Train's ferocious folk-rock/Yardbirds hybrid "Black Roses," which Clear Light would re-record on their sole Elektra LP. The Wilde Knights' original version of "Just Like Me" is not as good as the famous cover by Paul Revere & the Raiders, but is still exciting, while their "Beaver Patrol" (anthologized on Pebbles) is one of the great non-hit 1960s garage classics, though the smoking riffs and vocal ardor are diminished by the outrageously sexist lyrics. Otherwise it's more down to the standard garage level: manic energy; derivative and basic (sometimes downright insubstantial) songs; and varying echoes of folk-rock, frat rock, British Invasion, psychedelic music, and horror movie-type novelty.

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