The Chocolate Watchband

At the Love-In Live!

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The classic lineup of the Chocolate Watchband, with David Aguilar on vocals, was arguably the best garage punk band of the mid-'60s, as well as one of its most short-lived. This live reunion from 1999 is therefore a most welcome addition to the band's canon. It gave the group a chance to refashion some old tunes that may have been rushed by producer Ed Cobb when they were first recorded. For example, "She Weaves a Tender Trap" seems more fully realized than the original, and it's nice to hear Aguilar, and not Don Bennett, sing "Let's Talk About Girls." But "Gone and Passes By," despite Aguilar's claims to the contrary, pales next to the original's sitarized Bo Diddley groove. The essence of garage rock was always spontaneity over fidelity, not to mention teen angst, so the idea of men in their fifties presenting pristinely recorded oldies might be alarming to purists. But there is no doubt it's great fun and the energy is contagious. The Chocolate Watchband have always owed their greatest debt to the Rolling Stones, from whom they borrowed their sneer and sound. Despite the fact that the Stones have had tours longer than the Watchband's original tenure, At the Love-In: Live will endure in your CD player long after No Security has been put away.

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