American mid-'60s garage rock is most often stereotyped as a kind of macho suburban variation on the R&B-based British Invasion rock of the Rolling Stones. But there was also a wide strain of gentler midtempo rockers and ballads that were often prone to lachrymose adolescent self-pity. Subtitled "29 Tales of Woe and Despair," Sigh Cry Die has 78 minutes of the stuff, which -- in keeping with most Arf! Arf! '60s compilations -- is populated with bands mostly unknown even to the '60s garage buff. When King's Ransom and Fenwyck are about the most familiar bands, you know this music is way-obscure. The influence of the Beatles, the British Invasion, and the Byrds permeates much of the material, with some side nods to the Beau Brummels and the Zombies, though there's usually a layer of amateurish lovesick despondency missing even from the most downbeat songs done by these role models. It makes for a nice change of pace from the usual '60s garage collection, though not many of the songs are all that strong, and it's something of a downer heard in one gulp. King's Ransom's "Without You," with its tense clock-ticking rhythm, is about the best number here, and some of the other tracks (like Strange Fate's vibes-adorned "Love Is Like") have fair melodies, harmonies, and production, though most of them aren't highly memorable. The Fyrebirds' "I'm So Lonely" might be taken as evidence of a band with above-average promise if you're not aware it's actually a cover of a 1965 Hollies B-side. It's music to drag out to suit the mood on those first foggy November mornings after the switch to daylight savings time, preferably when recalling your first unrequited adolescent crushes. The packaging divulges no hard information about these never-made-its, other than reproductions of rare 45 labels in the booklet.
Share this page