The Zephyrs


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The Hyacinth label's done bootlegs of '60s bands so obscure that it's hard to find legitimate releases by those acts, let alone under-the-counter ones. The Zephyrs certainly qualify on that account, and while an official compilation of their 1963-65 singles would be welcomed, as of 2003 no label had undertaken such a project, though many obscure British Invasion bands of lesser talent have benefited from CD anthologies. So this disc, the core of which has both sides of all of the Zephyrs' singles except their 1963 debut 45, does a service to collectors, although there are some of the shortcomings you'd expect from bootlegs. First, the tracks have obviously been mastered from vinyl rather than original tapes, although they sound pretty good, some faint crackles and pops notwithstanding. Second, it is missing that 1963 single ("What's All That About"/"Oriental Dream"), irking completists. And there are insignificant but telling signs like the misspelling of the band name as "Zephyers" on the back cover, as well as a song listing that reverses the order in which Track Ten and Track 11 play. But the music matters more than such trifles, and it's fairly good, falling into that category of bands who owed inspiration to Merseybeat, mod, and British R&B without falling squarely into any camp. A song such as "There's Something About You," for instance, sounds kind of like an excellent lost Mindbenders track in its straight-ahead, up-beat, mainstream British Invasion attack. Others, like the tiny U.K. "hit" "She's Lost You," have a bit of a jazzy R&B mod organ influence, along the lines of another act produced by Shel Talmy, the Untamed. And "I Can Tell" is a cool British R&B punk cover of the Bo Diddley classic, starting off with a true caveman-like ensemble scream, and featuring guitar session work by Jimmy Page. Likable as they were, however, the Zephyrs were missing both a solid identity, and those one or two obvious hit songs that would have taken them to another level. The CD's padded out with six cuts by the ho-hum British '70s band Vinegar Joe (including the non-LP, B-side "Speed Queen of Ventura"), who had a tenuous link to the Zephyrs via guitarist Pete Gage, who was a member, but not during the time they recorded the singles on this disc.