P.J. Orion & the Magnates

P.J. Orion & the Magnates

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Of the numerous so-called "prep rock" garage albums to be released on small or private labels by prep school students in the mid-'60s, the self-titled one by P.J. Orion & the Magnates is among the better ones. Not that it's great, and it's certainly not very original, as all of the nine tracks are covers of pretty well-known songs by the Rolling Stones, Animals, Barry McGuire, Drifters, Tommy Roe, Bob Dylan, the Searchers, the Byrds, and Them. And all of them are done in a garage-like Byrds style, with the kind of jangly electric guitar arrangements in which the Byrds specialized, though these aren't as sophisticated. For all that, though, these are pretty well executed, and the group must have been a good choice to play at high school dances back in the day, even if no one in their right mind would compare these to the originals. The version of Roe's "Sheila" is pretty cool, actually, adding a little garage oomph not present in the hit version. Cool, too, is the cover, in which they pose with their instruments and sunglasses in the middle of deserted railroad tracks. That cover, and the decision by Eva Records to make this one of the earlier of the albums it reissued in the mid-'80s -- at a time when Eva was one of the very few companies reissuing such rarities -- probably accounts for its relatively high visibility among '60s collectors as such things go.