The Sevens, a Swiss quintet that formed in Basel in 1964 and worked on into 1968, cast themselves firmly in the mold of the then ongoing British Invasion -- the Animals, the Kinks, and the Pretty Things all take a bow in their sound, while their eponymous 1965 debut album included covers of the Newcastle band's "I'm Crying" and Ray Davies' "Don't You Fret." There, however, comparisons run into a brick wall, as the Sevens reveal themselves to be several steps removed from even the craziest import beat boomer. In bassist Michael Boway, the band boasted a songwriter who was at least the equal of his Anglo counterparts, and in vocalist Pierre Aeblascher was a frontman of almost breathtaking style. Together, they collide with an electricity that is as eccentric as it is spellbinding -- there are moments, most notably "The Love of a Bird," where Aeblascher slurs so heavily and bellows so loudly that you wonder whether he was even in the studio when the record was recorded. He could easily have been singing drunkenly along later. But that is a part of this remarkable album's charm. "Seven," the band's first single, clashes brooding organ with metallic crashes, beneath Aeblascher's foreboding recitation of the things that happened "on the seventh day of the seventh month...." In contrast, "You Should Know" is a brutal R&B stomp, wherein the singer sounds almost completely removed from the band (and some bizarre stereo separation adds to the dislocation), while a brokenhearted drawl through "I'm Gonna Dress in Black" could be a lost Doors demo, as vocals and organ melt together into one slurring liquid blob. This compilation rounds up the Sevens' full 1965 output -- their 12-track LP along with seven non-album A- and B-sides, and it's safe to say there's not a clunker in sight. The gatefold packaging, meanwhile, rounds up 11 picture sleeve singles, a crop of band and hysterical fan photographs, and an all-too-brief band history. All told, the whole package explodes with a freakbeat craziness that is irresistible.
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