Pilgrims

Telling Youth...The Truth

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Here's a real curiosity of the British Invasion: a band who sound much like hundreds if not thousands of third-string groups in England from the mid-'60s, with one crucial difference -- all the lyrics are of a devout Christian religious nature. Christian-themed rock groups of subsequent eras would often be musically mild and mainstream in stance, but that's not the case with the Pilgrims, who play in a pretty raw, R&B-influenced style on most of these 21 tracks. Recorded between 1962 and 1967 (in fairly primitive circumstances judging from the demo nature of the fidelity), they hover somewhere between amateurism and professionalism, though they're closer to professionalism. Most often they favor the early Rolling Stones-Pretty Things-ish style of heavily blues-R&B-influenced British Invasion rock with a naive flavor, in the mold of countless obscure English bands of the time, though some of the material has a strong Merseybeat feel, and what sound like the very earliest recordings have a pre-Beatles Joe Meek-ish vibe. It's actually not at all bad -- and not as derivative (though it is pretty derivative) as some archival releases from U.K. bands with similar influences, as all the material's original. It's not all that great or remarkable either, and while the lyrics -- usually urging putting one's life in the hands of God and Jesus -- are certainly different for this particular thing, they're just as repetitive (and in some respects clumsy) as the basic love-centered lyrics by the standard struggling garage band of the era. Indeed, one's so much more accustomed to hearing lyrics about girls and young love by these kind of bands that the incessant use of words about the Christian faith is kind of jarring.