Various Artists

The Midnite Sound of the Milky Way

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The Midnite Sound studio in Danville, IL was one of many such operations grinding out obscure garage rock in the mid-'60s. If any of its product is remembered at all, it's the weird rockabilly-cum-garage of Dean Carter, who put out a few singles on the Milky Way label. Carter's legacy is enshrined on another Big Beat release, the Carter anthology Call of the Wild!; Midnite Sound of the Milky Way collects 24 other mid-'60s tracks by different artists recording at Midnite Sound, only four of which were previously released. In some respects this material is run-of-the-mill local garage rock music, but there's enough of a difference and unique character to the Midnite Sound sound to make this worth searching out by some garage aficionados. First, the Midnite Sound studio had weird lo-fi, echoey acoustics that exuded outer space-like amateur mayhem. Second, the performers were, even by the standards of '60s garage rock, untutored and naively strange, creating an uncommercial racket to the best of their limited abilities. Also, Midnite Sound/Milky Way's particular brand of garage music was less British Invasion-influenced than most, with anachronistic echoes of rockabilly and pre-Beatles rock of both the instrumental and vocal varieties. Not too many of the songs here have much substance, but there's some compensation in the outright weirdness of some of them, like the aptly named Kookie Cook's "Workin' Man," with its deranged angry vocal, booming drums, enervating staccato guitars, and happy-go-lucky whistling. Other items of note are the Cobras' 1966 single "Try"/"Goodbye," true kiddie rock as the members were a mere 12-13-years-old; "The Fiery Stomp" by Willie & the Travelaires, paced by the lead vocals of Amish (!) singer Wilbur Miller; and George Jacks' "Love Is Fine" and "Fortunate Child," which have a raw early Beau Brummels-style folk-rock moodiness. The recommended Dean Carter collection Call of the Wild! is a better place to start for getting acquainted with the Midnite Sound/Milky Way legacy, however.

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