King's Ransom

The King's Ransom

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The King's Ransom were one of a surprising number of groups from Allentown, PA (a little more than an hour's drive from Philadelphia), who made '60s garage rock records. The songs on this collection (including four takes of one of them, "Elevator Operator") might not be too remarkable when judged against the average cut on the Nuggets box set. But as the style goes, they're pretty decent, though the group didn't have much of a consistent sound or personality. "Without You," with its tense clock-ticking beat and false ending, is a quite good brooding garage rocker; "Ain't That Just Like Me," based on the Searchers' rave-up arrangement of a Coasters song, is almost as good and wild as that first-rate Searchers track. Some of the slower numbers drag on in a lugubrious fashion, and even the uptempo "Shame" is something of a clichéd subdued rant against a no-good girl, though again (one guiltily admits) rather good as those things go. In line with most other groups of the period, they quickly changed with the times, getting into lighter harmony psychedelic pop with "Shadows of Dawn" and the beguilingly naïve, meditative ode to a "Streetcar." Sometimes, too, they used the kind of florid keyboard arrangements that sounded like hand-me-downs from the likes of the Left Banke and some of the 1967 Beatles output. Like much of the rest of the CD, these have a ragged charm, though the sound is usually only fair, sometimes with audible surface noise from the original discs.

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