Hep Stars

On Stage

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This is a pretty fair concert album, assuming that it is really live (the drums sound a little too good for a concert recording of this period). Recorded in August of 1965, it captures the group's odd mix (for U.S./U.K. tastes) of late-'50s and early-'60s rock & roll in fairly raw form, pounding organ at the fore (joined by the occasional attempt at Kinks-style crunching, punkoid guitar) along with a some powerful vocalizing. The repertory is a strange combination of rock & roll standards ("Cadillac," "What'd I Say"), covers of current tunes by the likes of the Kinks ("So Mystifying"), surf tunes ("Surfin' Bird"), and doo wop ("Only You"), all done competently and with a convincing degree of passion. This might be the best single disc by which Americans (and any listeners who don't already know the group's sound) should discover the Hep Stars, holding up better than their studio recordings, which had a tendency to veer toward softer pop/rock -- here it's all pretty solid hard rock, even when they do a slowie like Ritchie Valens' "Donna." The 1996 Swedish EMI reissue offers good sound and comes with six good bonus tracks, consisting of the harder single sides by the group from that period.

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