Garrison

Anthology

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For a long while it seems that Garrison would be little more than a footnote in the career of Patron Saints main man Eric Bergman -- the entirety of the late-'70s group's released output was a sole self-released single in 1976. As with the Patron Saints, though, much more was recorded than was released at the time, and the two-disc Anthology covers three years and two different lineups of the group. As with Jon Tuttle in the early days of the Patron Saints, Bergman had a songwriting foil in Garrison, Dan Brown; in his as-always thorough liner notes, Bergman notes that the collection is slanted towards Brown's contributions intentionally since many Garrison songs ended up on Bergman's own two solo efforts. Collating a variety of demos, live cuts, and full studio efforts, plus both sides of the one single, "You Opened My Eyes" and "It's in de Blood," Anthology is in general a step away from the accomplished fragility of the Patron Saints days towards a more conventional but just as sweet form of power pop. Brown's work in particular fits this model throughout. "You Opened My Eyes" hits a neo-Byrds jangle well with some Phil Spector drum fills to boot, while other songs have a warm if not always remarkable feel that touches on country-rock, hard rock, and mainstream folk à la Dan Fogelberg, if more engagingly so. Bergman's work, in contrast, harkens back to the more complex song structures familiar from his earlier work -- "It's in de Blood" throws in some sudden time shifts on the chorus while otherwise playing around with an agreeable light funk arrangement. Some moments are even downright progged-out (at least if the keyboard fills on "Borrowed Time" are any indication!). The appearance of some Patron Saints obscurities like "Spring Forth" and an exuberant full-band take on "Valiant Attempts," as well as the participation of other members of the earlier band in the varying lineups, nicely continues a connection with the past. Meanwhile, early keyboardist Chris Suchmann's one songwriting contribution, "She's My Sister (And I'd Love to Love Her)," somehow predicts both Spinal Tap and South Park while also sounding like Cheap Trick -- not a bad feat!

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