The importance of Detroit garage patron saints the Gories as an influential force is paramount, and their legacy continues to grow as trappings from their now-classic records keep turning up in the sounds of generations of their followers. Key Gories pupil Jack White turned the world on to the band when his White Stripes hit the big time, citing their tragically slim discography as groundwork for the bare-bones garage rock he and Meg laid down in their best moments. It's fitting, then, that The Shaw Tapes arrives on White's Third Man Records label, a no-fidelity document of a sparsely attended Gories gig from 1988, capturing the savage electricity of the band in their beginnings. Ahead of their time in many ways, the Gories were a puzzle for many audiences for most of their initial career. Two guitars, no bass, dual vocals from the throaty future Dirtbombs leader Mick Collins and his wiry counterpart Danny Kroha who would go on to the frenetic glory of bands like the Demolition Doll Rods and Danny & the Darleens, all barely held in place by the primitive drumming of Peggy O' Neil, pounding with an insanity that made Moe Tucker sound like Max Roach. The Shaw Tapes (actually recorded not in Detroit, but in a rented storefront in neighboring city Hamtramck) catches the tumbling ball of incontestable noise the trio puts out over the course of 13 tracks, with originals as well as covers of tunes from John Lee Hooker, the Stooges, and obscure acts from the garage vaults. Gories "hits" like "Thunderbird ESQ" and "I Think I've Had It" are delivered with even more unhinged brilliance than their already primordially rough-hewn studio versions, and the stomping medley of "I Just Wanna Make Love to You/Give Me Love" that closes the set mutates the Bo Diddley beat into a sub-caveman explosion, instruments wandering in and out of key and Collins trading hollars of jubilance and destruction with Kroha until its abrupt cessation. Part of what has added to the air of mystery surrounding the Gories is how under-valued they were for most of their initial run in the late '80s and early '90s. The sound of the enthusiastic but audibly tiny audience caught here is more evidence of the fact, but also completes the snapshot-like quality of this night in the life of a band who would one day be considered as influential as any of rock's most original and challenging acts. Released 25 years after it was recorded, this off-hand tape of a band jamming at a local house party reveals some of the unfiltered greatness that so many would recognize as the years burned on. The Gories were the inarguable sound of a scream that happens somewhere between anguish and ecstacy. The Shaw Tapes presents that astonishing scream in its rawest form, and the ripples of inspiration that come forth from it could continue to spread forward for decades to come.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas