Various Artists

Sixties Japanese Garage Psych Sampler

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Whoever assembled this collection of rare Japanese garage rock sides from the '60s clearly wasn't worried about offending anyone, given the goofy cover artwork, the faked letter from John Lennon on the back cover, and the declaration that it features "12 Gloovy Gloops!!" But while the folks behind this set may not be much on racial sensitivity, they do clearly know their rock & roll; this is a terrific set of high-octane garage rock and proto-psychedelia, with no shortage of fierce and fuzzy guitar, wailing organs, and whacked-out vocalists who deliver full attitude whether they sing in Japanese or (usually) faulty English. Highlights include the bummed-out, Standells-esque fuzz monster "I'm Just a Mops" from the Mops, the swinging and hard-pounding "Tunnel to Heaven" from the Dynamites, a cover of "Long Tall Sally" by the Outcast that has one of the most deranged vocals you'll ever encounter, two great cuts from the Bunnys (featuring blazing guitarist Takeshi Terauchi), and the noisy folk-rock of "Why, Baby, Why?" from the Beavers. This music came from the "group sound" era that swept Japan after the Beatles made every teenager want to form a rock band, but the majority of these tunes sound more like these kids were channeling the singles that would later make up the Nuggets box set, and as garage rock internationalism goes, this stuff ranks with the best fuzztone fury waxed in the '60s. There are better, more comprehensive, and better-mannered collections of vintage Japanese rock than Sixties Japanese Garage Psych Sampler, but for sheer wailing energy, this one is definitely a keeper.

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