Various Artists

Green Crystal Ties, Vol. 5: Gems from Garage Band Vaults

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Not quite everything on Green Crystal Ties, Vol.5 is played with striking inventiveness -- but it's all done with such spirit and enthusiasm that it's impossible not to enjoy all 18 songs here. SJ & the Crossroads, North Atlantic Invasion Force, the Outer Limits, the Lewallen Brothers, and especially the Nickel Bag all deserved better than the obscurity to which they've been consigned, all of them capable of holding the attention of listeners and dancers for three or six minutes (or more) at a time. They're all sort of outclassed (albeit only mildly) by the Blue Things, one of the very few acts represented in the series ever to get attached to a major label, whose "Waiting for Changes" and "Hollow" show a mastery of the subtleties of the studio that most of the rest never had a chance to achieve. The Missouri-based Morning Dew is also a very pleasant surprise, though Marcus doesn't really fit in with the rest of the repertory here. But it's all a lot of fun, as well as enlightening, and in excellent sound with notes as thorough as the musicians' obscurity permits.

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