Spike Drivers

60's Folkrocking Psychedelia From the Motor City

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This collection of 15 previously unreleased recordings from 1965-1968 doesn't include their rare Reprise singles, though it does have different versions of three songs from those 45s ("High Time," "Baby Won't You Let Me Tell You How I Lost My Mind," and "Strange Mysterious Sounds"). A little better documentation about exactly when and where this stuff was cut, in fact, would have been quite useful if it's known, though the 16-page booklet has otherwise very detailed liner notes from lead guitarist Sid Brown. It's more psychedelic than folk-rock, sounding quite a bit like an early San Francisco band might, though they were from Detroit. At times there's a resemblance to the Great Society, particularly in the minor-keyed tunes and improvisational-raga influences, though that group (Grace Slick's pre-Jefferson Airplane outfit) had considerably better songs, melodies, and vocal/instrumental personality. The Spike Drivers are not a major find as far as obscure early psych bands go but, all those negatives out of the way, there's some fairly cool stuff here, if on the charmingly naïve side. "Strange, Mysterious Sounds" is a little like a collision between doomstruck raga rock and Mamas & the Papas harmonies, and "Portland Town" is a haunting drawn-out acid-folk cover of the traditional folk song. Other tracks, like "Got the Goods on You" and "Baby, Can I Wear Your Clothes?," mine a much lighter tone lyrically and musically, with their offbeat mixtures of British Invasion, folk-rock, and bohemian lyricism. Some of the tracks do get into grating, noisy psychedelic improvisation (with a sometimes substandard recording) and don't have much compositional backbone, though. And as singers they're far below the level of a Jefferson Airplane, though like the Airplane they were a mostly male group with one female singer (Marycarol Brown, who takes lead vocals rather infrequently).

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