The Very Best of Tracks

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Not to be confused with Bowie guitarist Earl Slick's 1972 group on Capitol Records or a late-'70s Boston punk band fronted by Lori Doll, this Tracks reigned between 1969 and 1974 and had the distinction of being produced by Wayne Wadhams, lead singer of the Fifth Estate (which hit with "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" in 1967). Along with a unique version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," this ensemble comes up with a real sleeper in the tune "Pawnbroker" -- a strong, methodical ballad featuring great vocals and interplay from the guitar and keyboard that put it in a league with the legendary Modern Lovers. "Bottleneck" is another excellent track, recorded by producer Wadhams at the prestigious Orson Welles Film School outside of Harvard Square where Willie "Loco" Alexander and Walter Powers created their post-Velvet Underground tapes in 1974. Wadhams' March 1991 liner notes on this treasure help put things in perspective, though the four-page booklet and highly informative back cover are all the press record collectors are likely to find on a band that hardly got the attention of the aforementioned Modern Lovers or, for that matter, Aerosmith, the Sidewinders, Moulty & the Barbarians, Seatrain, or Barry & the Remains. "Expecting to Find You Gone" and "Whistling in the Dark Together" sound like the kind of music the Rowan Brothers were trying to make for Clive Davis in 1972, Peter Rowan emerging from Seatrain and Earth Opera during the time this Tracks was making noise. The band was perhaps a bit too progressive to grab the underground chic enjoyed by Andy Paley's Sidewinders or Jonathan Richman's musings -- and with "Mexican Bird" not being a hit single, there would be no resurgence like the Barbarians' track "Moulty" received on the Nuggets collection (come to think of it, Tracks' producer did have a hit, yet never got that all important Nuggets stamp of approval). A song like "Lethargy" would have most likely remained forever in obscurity without this Boston Skyline compilation bringing it and other selections back into circulation. The Very Best of Tracks is not your typical artifact from the days before New England's new wave movement, but it is quite a find. And if you can't find it, is a good place to start.

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