The Cherokees

Here Come the Cherokees: Complete Recordings 1964-1968

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The 33 tracks jammed onto this single-disc Cherokees retrospective almost form a wide-lens snapshot of the changes undergone by Aussie rock (and, in similar senses, rock around the globe) from the early to late '60s. Although this only covers releases from 1964-1968 (with an unissued cover of the Rivieras' "Little Donna" thrown in), stylistically it encompasses everything from early-'60s style surf music to British Invasion, garage rock, vaudevillian rock (a 1967 cover of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher"), and good-time psychedelic pop. The common ground is both musical competence and, to be harsh, a lack of originality, though nothing's lousy, and some of it's good. Most of the first third of the disc might as well have been the work of an entirely different band than the British Invasion-inspired one that had a few Australian hits in the mid-'60s, since it's almost wholly given over to surf instrumentals in the style of the Shadows and, occasionally, Tornados. Those tracks are OK but lack the spark that made the Shadows, Tornados, and for that matter the Atlantics (the best Australian '60s surf band) so identifiable from other instrumental groups of the period (though "Thundercloud," the best of them, certainly sounds like the Atlantics in its threatening high-pitched gallop). The same could be said of the material after the band had switched approaches almost entirely and adopted vocals, mixing fair but unremarkable covers of the likes of Manfred Mann, the Beau Brummels ("That's If You Want Me To," actually one of their biggest hits), and Curtis Mayfield with some reasonable original material in the garage-British Invasion-pop mold. There are some decent early British Invasion imitations ("Only If You Care," "Stop This Misery") and garage pop outings (the stomping but tinny-sounding "The Thought of You," "Ain't Gonna Cry No More," and "Just Can't Cry Anymore"), and the group were able harmony singers. Still, unless you're a real deep collector of '60s sounds, it's a struggle to come up with a reason why you should get this when there are so many more similarly styled but more exciting reissues of Australian '60s rock out there.

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