Various Artists

Green Crystal Ties, Vol. 1: Garage Band Rebels

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If Rhino's Nuggets box only whetted your appetite for mid-'60s garage- and psychedelic-punk music, then this ten-CD series is your next stop. It augments and improves on Collectables' existing "Cicadelic" and garage-punk CD series, with better masters, improved notes and artwork, and more clever packaging that's almost deliberately similar to Nuggets. The idea is basically the same as the old Collectables series, presenting pairs of tracks by otherwise under-appreciated psychedelic acts from the mid-'60s to the dawn of the '70s. Given that time span, the range of sounds is fairly diverse, from garage punk in a Standells mode to serious heavy metal in the manner of Black Sabbath. Green Crystal Ties, Vol. 1 emphasizes several bands from Collectables' earlier round of releases, including the Zakary Thaks, the Bad Seeds, and the Liberty Bell, along with some less familiar performers such as the Illusions, the Outlaws, Kubla Khan, and Michael. The Illusions deserve to be more than an unknown quantity for their version of "Gloria" featured here, a sneering rendition with a pair of angry-sounding guitars and a pumping bass behind an edgy vocal; the paired up number, "Try," is just different enough, featuring some harmonies, that listeners will find themselves wishing there was a full album of this outfit's material. The Outlaws weren't as fierce as the Illusions, but they knew how to get a fresh take on the Byrds' sound on numbers like "Worlds Apart." The Liberty Bell's two numbers here couldn't be more dissimilar, the slow, folk-rock-ish "Something for Me" paling next to the fuzzbox blow-out "Reality Is the Only Answer" which, its title aside, is a great piece of high-energy psychedelia. The Nomads, cutting music for Orbit Records in Houston, are represented by a savage version of "My Little Red Book" and one superb original, "Situations," which is like a three-minute teen-punk sneer set to music. Michael was actually Mike Taylor, member of the Bad Seeds, who were one of the better Corpus Christi bands; his singles had a defiant personal edge despite the obvious commercial side to the songs. Kubla Khan's 1970 vintage "Revolution II" and "Help Yourself" retained a '60s punk feel despite running times and (in "Revolution III") political sensibilities that would've been a too sophisticated for 1966-1967, when it was just enough to complain about life. As a bonus, the disc includes unreleased versions of the Zakary Thaks classics "My Door," and the series-naming "Green Crystal Ties" -- loud, crunchy, hook-laden garage punk with a vengeance.

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