In 1967, the Rising Storm, a rock band comprised of six guys attending a prep school in Andover, MA, went into a local studio and cut an album, largely because they were going to graduate in a few months and wanted to document themselves before they broke up. Years later, that album, Calm Before..., had become a much-sought-after collector's item among garage rock obsessives, and was bootlegged back into print by a French collectors label. So in 1982, the Rising Storm were minor league celebrities, having been persuaded to do some club shows in Boston a few months earlier in the wake of their rediscovery, when they agreed to play a set for the occasion of their 15-year high school reunion (with original bassist Todd Cohen replaced by fan Andy Paley). Someone had the presence of mind to record the show for posterity, and Alive Again at Andover is a remarkably accurate re-creation of what the Rising Storm probably sounded like back in the day. While the band is in less than perfect form -- a few flubbed notes here, an occasional dropped beat there -- they summon up the energy and the spirit they showed in the studio back in the day, and they thankfully avoided the temptation to try to fancy up their arrangements. Lead singer Tony Thompson's voice is lower and gruffer than it was when he was 18, but his approach hadn't changed much at all, while Charlie Rockwell's Farfisa organ lines and the guitar combo of Rich Weinberg and Bob Cohen are pure resurrected teenage angst. Even the recording -- which sounds like straight-to-two-track from the back of the hall -- recalls the sound of '60s live tapes, albeit with better fidelity. The only real disappointment here is that the Rising Storm opted not to play any of their very impressive original songs this evening except for "I'm Coming Home," but they certainly deliver the goods with a set of '60s hits and worthy obscurities (including the Rolling Stones' "The Singer Not the Song," Donovan's "Catch the Wind" and no fewer than three Love covers). Alive Again at Andover is a reunion album with the sense to capture the group in their natural element, and the results are much fun for fans of teenage garage rumble of the '60s.
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