Out of the Bachs

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Only 150 copies of Out of the Bachs -- dig the nifty pun -- were released back in 1968. Rarity alone, tends to send aficionados of garage rock one-offs into paroxysms of aggrandizement, and, indeed, that has been the case with Bachs. The band's sole record, cut in a single day as its swan song and farewell, has been classed by some genre fans as one of the greatest garage platters of the '60s, a veritable lost classic. Collectors consequently have doled out as many as thousands of dollars for a mint copy of the LP. So credit where due to reissue label Gear Fab for making this fabled artifact available and accessible to those of us with, shall we say, shallower pockets. But its status as a Holy Grail of garage, alas, also begs the question: Does the music itself merit the hype? In a word, occasionally. Out of the Bachs is certainly not in the first tier of '60s rock obscurities, and probably not in the second. It is too crudely recorded, and ultimately too artistically inconsistent. There are too many dreary, lovey-dovey moments, too many songs that never rise above the unexceptional. But when the combo was on -- and Bachs hit on all cylinders for nearly half the album -- the music was explosive. There is only one song here that truly exists outside the box: the extraordinary "Tables of Grass Fields." A cosmic ballad, beautiful even as filtered through the muddy atmospherics, and punctuated by an acid-drenched exclamation point in the form of the song's haunting, out-of-nowhere coda, it is a fantastically disjointed collision of the inspiring and the unorthodox, and belongs alongside the very finest psychedelic nuggets of the era. And there are enough other strong performances (generally the more "far out" ones, as the kids used to say), all of them penned in-house by vocalist-bassist Blake "Black" Allison and guitarist John Peterman, on the rest of the album -- try "Free Fall," the rave-up "Minister to a Mind Diseased," "Show Me That You Want to Go Home," or "I'm a Little Boy" -- to confirm that Out of the Bachs, if not a masterpiece, definitely has the goods.

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