Various Artists

Badger Beat Chronicles

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Is there enough mid-'60s garage rock from Wisconsin to fill an entire 20-song compilation LP? You bet -- even though Wisconsin might not be among the most populous of states, there were probably enough garage 45s issued there to fill many albums. Is there enough mid-'60s garage rock from Wisconsin to fill an entire good 20-song compilation LP? That's more debatable, and a question that this particular anthology doesn't quite settle. If the rarities assembled here can be taken as a representative sampling, Wisconsin didn't have a particularly distinctive garage band sound, as some regions (like the Northwest and Texas) did. The qualities of naïveté and energy that attract garage collectors to this stuff are here in abundance, but to anyone who has been exposed to hundreds of such collections, it's just another shelf-filler. Perhaps it's a little more inclined toward innocent British Invasion pop and early folk-rock influences than most such endeavors, traits that radiate with a tenuous phosphorescence from tracks like the Crucibles' "Beware of Birds" and the Quarrymen's "Why" and "Don't Try Your Luck." (And no, that's not the same Quarrymen as the Liverpool group that evolved into the Beatles.) The most interesting nuggets might be those tracks taking unabashed inspiration from the early Byrds -- a group that was, it's not often noted, extremely influential on mid-'60s garage bands -- particularly the Society's "One Way Ride" and Pynk Peach Mob's "I'm Calling You Back." The girls do indeed take over for the all-girl Girls Take Over's cover of "High Heel Sneakers," which makes for a big change of pace in the heavily male-dominated garage rock genre, though their version isn't very good. The liner notes are excellent, with detailed descriptions of every band and track.

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