Various Artists

Off the Wall, Vol. 1

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Perhaps since Off the Wall, Vol. 1 came out at a time when there were very few '60s garage compilations other than those in the Pebbles series, its quality was considerably higher-rung than most of the several thousands of garage comps to follow in the next few decades. It's now almost as hard to find as the original releases it anthologizes, but should you be able to come across a copy, it's still a surprisingly worthwhile investment for the garage rock fan. Most of this has the stereotypical circa-1966 garage rock attributes -- snotty vocals, fuzz guitar, cheesy organ, snide sullen attitude -- but here it's usually wedded to stronger material and performances than those on the average LP/CD in the deluge to come of comps in the genre. What's more, much of it doesn't appear on many other garage anthologies, with some exceptions like the Del-Vetts' "Last Time Around" and the E-Types' "Put the Clock Back on the Wall" (both of which are admittedly among the stronger cuts). Other high points include Society's Children's "Mr. Genie Man," a rare example of tough female-sung ominous garage psychedelia; the Undertakers' vicious reworking of Ray Charles' "Unchain My Heart"; the Untamed's "Someday Baby," which recalls the British R&B/punk style, and the Legends' exuberant cover of the Searchers' LP version of "Alright."

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