Various Artists

Girls in the Garage, Vol. 9

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The "oriental special" volume of the Girls in the Garage series has '60s girl-sung guitar rock rarities from Asia. Details as to years of release and nations of origin for the specific tracks are scant in the liner notes, but it can be deduced that at least a few of these artists were based in Singapore and Malaysia, and that most or all of them were from southeast Asia. The concept is more exotic -- at least in the English-speaking West, which rarely heard such records, and might not have suspected that any even existed -- than the actual music. Like much '60s rock from non-English-speaking countries, it's an awkward and sometimes raw spin on popular British Invasion and American garage pop sounds of the day, sung in both English (often heavily accented) and native tongues. It's also pretty derivative, about half the tracks being covers of big English-language hits like "Hanky Panky" (two versions, no less), "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy," "My Boy Lollipop," and "Love Potion #9." It's more a novelty than it is a notable slice of overlooked rock history, though there are plenty of weird vocal inflections and odd bits of cheesy organ and fuzz guitar to keep oddity seekers entertained. As for some of the songs most worthy of salutation, "If You Ever Go" -- by "Artist Unknown" -- is ersatz Merseybeat with enough vocal assurance to sound as if it might have been sung by an expatriate Englishwoman, while Naomi & the Boys' "As Tears Go By" has a cool, unpredictable stinging fuzz guitar solo. Another Naomi & the Boys number, "I'd Like to Know," is also very much in the Marianne Faithfull school of British pop-folk, though with an acoustic guitar more out of key than any U.K. producer would have allowed.

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