Various Artists

Cambodian Rocks

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Rock music has long been a far-reaching source of inspiration for many groups outside the United States. Furthermore, for those trapped in Third World countries that aspire to reach some sort of glory that First World citizens seem to enjoy, the significance of the music is a symbol of a freedom and a lifestyle longed for. In Cambodia, a land so war-torn and full of strife and trouble, this compilation stands as an incredible historical document of late-'60s to early-'70s Cambodian rock and also of rough times about to get worse (genocide and forced labor were just around the corner at the time of these recordings). Cambodian Rocks contains 22 oddball garage rock songs recorded on lo-fi equipment circa 1967-1971 and performed by accomplished Cambodian musicians. The recordings that make up this compilation don't just copy the form or the compositions, though -- they bring much of their own flavor through eerily psychedelic vocal delivery (of course in their Cambodian dialect) and loosely liquid guitar playing. The tracks are unaccredited and untitled, but it's easy to see that the record deals with a number of different groups playing some unidentifiable songs mixed in with some U.K. and American garage classics (including an amazing version of Them's "Gloria"). The packaging is barely outside bootleg status, and the liner notes are of no use to figure out the who, what, or why of this otherwise worthwhile disc.

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