Most bands that formed in garages in the mid-'60s didn't stick around long enough to get past their punk and British Invasion roots. A few morphed into psychedelic or quasi-psych outfits. Even fewer were around long enough (or versatile enough) to touch on every rock style that evolved from the mid-'60s to the early '70s. One such group was Phoenix's Grapes of Wrath, who maintained operations more or less intact from 1964 until 1973. Steve (drums, guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Michael Whitehurst (lead guitar, vocals), Stuart Wood (bass, vocals), Brent Burns (guitar, vocals), and John Hesterman (organ, drums, guitar, bass, vocals) were just a few of the proliferation of teenage boys to form a band in the wake of the Beatles. Grapes of Wrath began, of course, in the beat-influenced mold, but their music changed just as fast as commercial trends of the times. Phoenix had a rather bountiful rock scene in the '60s, but Grapes of Wrath differed from the rest of the pack in that it played primarily original material. The band also differed because it had access to professional recording technology. Not only was the group afforded ample studio time, but it made frequent use of the best recording gear for live performances, which gave the band an unusually professional sheen and allowed Grapes of Wrath to build up quite a collection of tapes of its live and studio performances. As the times changed and the Vietnam War claimed some of its members, the music and make-up of Grapes of Wrath mutated, moving on to psyche, raga, political protest, and ultimately, into a harder rocking sound with various personnel changes. Gear Fab issued a self-titled collection culled from all the different phases of the band in 1999.
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