Various Artists

Green Crystal Ties, Vol. 4: Mind Expanding Psychedelia

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This is an ultra-cool collection of 18 garage and psychedelic punk classics, running the gamut from the folky stylings of the Uncalled For to the hard, crunching, mind-twisting work of the Exotics. The latter, out of Texas, could and should have been rivals to their Lone Star State compatriots the 13th Floor Elevators -- Robert Price had a Howlin' Wolf-style rasp that was a near match for Roky Erickson, and Tommy Spalding's rhythm guitar, Chris Brown's thundering bass, and Geof West's pile-driver drumming made for a rhythm section reminiscent of the Kinks at their hard-rocking peak. The Outside In's "You Ain't Gonna Bring Me Down to My Knees" sound like the Rising Storm covering the Rascals, while Hydro Pyro's music oscillates and shimmers like a Jack Webb-inspired vision of a bad acid trip. The Stowaways, a quintet from North Carolina who never got their real shot at stardom, deserved better based on the trio of gems offered here, a hard white punk-blues of "What a Shame," a punchy cover of the Byrds' "It Won't Be Wrong," and a Beau Brummels-style rendition of the Beatles' "It's Only Love." Some more familiar names, such as the Penthouse 5 (appearing here in their offshoot guise of the WordD) and the District Six, are represented, and balancing their soaring psychedelic punk odes are the presence of a pair of lighter, breezier excursions by the Couriers, who mixed surf guitar with teen punk angst. The song selection is not only excellent, but the mastering quality makes this very good listening on a technical level -- one can hear the action on the drum kit on the Couriers' hauntingly poignant "Just Tell Me." The packaging is colorful and the annotation is surprisingly thorough.

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