Various Artists

Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things, Vol. 1

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This compilation follows in the vein of many similar regional '60s garage/psych collections that surfaced towards the end of the 20th century, thanks to a combination of ever deeper interest in obscurities and the general proliferation of cheap CD runs for a small but obsessive market. Like the best of the bunch, from Nuggets on down, a combination of liner notes, photos, and general stories provides a good amount of the appeal. This particular disc focuses on bands from the Tidewater area of Virginia, named after three of the groups featured here. All are pretty well unknown outside of the occasional appearance on a similar comp or two, and generally speaking the performances are an obvious mix of derivative originals and good-spirited covers dedicated to raising a fun cheap racket, like so many other regional hits and misses of the era. So coming to this for revelations isn't at all a good idea, but listening in for the heck of it often turns up some rough and ready fun. The higher octane numbers make this a good party disc and the various ballads are sweet enough, and as the compilers are proud to say, it's different from the regional "beach music" that the area is known for. Wild Thing are probably the most notable of the bunch, not only for their mighty fine "Weird Hot Nights" (dig the crazed laughs on the breaks) but their utterly insane look of huge silver pompadours and general alien decadence. It must have taken sheer chutzpah to even think of a look like that in 1966. Another noteworthy cut is from the Electrical Banana -- it's a fair cover of "There She Goes Again" by the Velvet Underground that suddenly breaks into a peppy, kick-up-your-heels ending. Not only was it probably one of the first remakes of that band ever, the actual recording was done via a gas-generator powered deck in Vietnam, where bandleader Dean Kohler, veteran of the Satellites (also featured on this collection) had ended up to serve his tour of duty!

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