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Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Album Review

Various Artists
Back From The Grave Volumes 9 & 10 Crypt Records

Article written by Ged M - Feb 14, 2015

Inspired by volume 1 of Pebbles, Marc Warren and chums began to issue the Back From The Grave series, compiling utterly obscure garage-rock tracks on eight records between 1983 and 1992. Eighteen years later, the next (final?) two volumes break surface with garish cartoon covers and a welter of songs that only the garage-punk illuminati have heard of. The excellent sleeve notes even include a letter from a band who never got to record a song, though their picture shows they had perfected the look!

These are bands, largely inspired by the British Invasion (so you hear shades of the Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks and Animals all over), who made a noise in their state, their town, their high school, and then disappeared. Sometimes it was owing to the draft (there's a sad tale of one garage-rock Viet vet) and sometimes through band breakdown (there are only two copies of The Warlocks’ crazy mad ‘Beware’ in existence because the guitarist didn’t like being left off the recording and drove over the boxes of 45s in his truck)! There's a band who drove to gigs in a hearse, one who employed their own band hairdresser, another who were just four 16 year olds (The Starfyres from Lansford, Pennsylvania) but they all knew how to fuzz it up and scream it down.

There are 30 songs over the two albums, including demos and studio acetates, some from unknown bands; the nicely polished ‘When I Feel Better’ on vol 9, recorded in Los Angeles, doesn’t deserve an unmarked grave. The sleeve notes do a better job of describing the records than I could but stand outs on Volume 9 include The Shackles’ Texan uberfuzz ‘Whizz #7’, Knoll Allen and the Noble Savages’ ‘Animal’ (the perfect description for a steamy broth of overflowing teenage hormones), the feral howling on The Raevins’ monstrous ‘The Edge of Time’ and ‘It’s a Cry’n Shame’ by Dallas’s The Gentlemen, an energy-packed, fuzz-beshrouded, insanely catchy garage colossus.

On Volume 10, ‘Wild Angel’ by Oklahoma’s James Bond & The Agents throbs with power like an American muscle car, while The Orphans from Iowa offer two tracks, the weirdly compressed R&B ‘Without You’, that sounds like a sleazier Pretty Things, and the brutal fuzzed up cover of Donovan’s ‘Hey Gyp’. The Hotbeats (Rhode Island) offer the typical teenage lament – “don’t try to tie me down’ – on their ‘Listen’. Nobody’s Children must have been some of the craziest people in Las Vegas judging by their largely instrumental ‘Mother’s Tin Moustache’, complete with jungle drums and chanting, while The Color’s ‘Young Miss Larsen’ was discovered on acetate but no-one knows where this band or tune (a second cousin of the Standells’ ‘Dirty Water’, with an awesome riff) come from.

These songs are too great to lurk in obscurity and you have to give credit to the team who tracked down these songs and produced the best possible copies (not easy given the state of some of the original recordings). There is a huge number of 60s compilations series but this one is indispensable.


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