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Various Artists: The Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 7-8 [Digipak]

Track List

>Time Remains - The Nomads
>Anne - Pulsating Heartbeats
>Everybody Needs a Love - The Gremlins
>She's on My Mind - Last Image
>Tryin' to Come Back - The Plastic Menagerie
>Natasha - The Glass Menagerie
>Without Crying - French Church
>What More Can I Say - Prince & The Paupers
>Without You - King's Ransom
>Don't Turn Away - The Timetakers
>Can't Go on Without You - The Stratacasters
>What Can I Say? - The Pastels
>Just Looking for You - The Shakles
>Gypsy Baby - The Scurvy Knaves
>Living With the Birds - The New Rumley Invincibles
>Dark Side - The Other Side
>How Many Nights - The Pastels
>Stay Away - The Toads
>She Still Loves You - The Henchmen
>Stix and Stones - The Night Walkers
>Love Me Like You Did Before - The Timetakers
>She Won't Miss You - The Night Riders
>But He Never Comes Back - The White Angels
>Always Lies - We the People
>I Need Her - The Dominions
>Way of the Down, The - The Saxons
>You Don't Hear Me - The Sonics
>Orphan - The Mystics
>Hey Baby - The Vacant Lots
>Why Oh Why - The Squires

Album Notes

If anyone knows angst, it's a teenager, a breed that thrives on wearing misery on their sleeves. Fans of vintage '60s garage rock usually favor sneering delinquents armed with fuzz pedals, but there was a long-running subgenre of garage rock that dealt with heartbroken guys trying to make sense of a cold, unforgiving world (or at the very least, cold, unforgiving girls). Crypt Records has given these bummed-out classics their due on Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 7-8, subtitled "Heartbroken American Garage Jangle Misery 1963-1967." While that description isn't 100-percent accurate geographically (the White Angels were from Switzerland, and a combo called the Sonics -- no, not those Sonics -- were comprised of American kids whose families were living in Thailand), musically it's close to the mark. Many of these tunes fall somewhere in the vicinity of folk rock, or at least something with a significantly more measured approach than the average high-attitude rantings common to '60s garage sounds. And a bunch of this stuff sounds significantly more sophisticated than what most sullen high schoolers were up to at the time. "Without You" by the King's Ransom is moody stuff with clever use of rhythms and melodic stops and starts. The lean, wiry guitar figures that carry "Natasha" by the Glas Menagerie suggest early psychedelia fused with the Velvet Underground. The Other Side's cover of "Dark Side" by the Shadows of Knight trades in the cockiness of the original for a powerful plea that's just as effective. We the People (not the Florida band of "Mirror of your Mind" infamy) manage to have it both ways as "Always Lies" opens as a quiet, sorrowful number and builds into a scream-fest for lead singer Peter Weeple. The Saxons deliver plenty of tough guitar work on "The Way of the Down," which also includes some overly optimistic applause and cheering clipped onto the beginning and end. And the New Rumley Invincibles find some humor amid the heartache in "Living with the Birds," which suggests the band had been listening to birds and Byrds. Even the most ordinary bands on this collection deliver solid stuff, the remastering makes the best of the source materials, and the entertaining liner notes offer as much information as is known about the artists. (Though someone must have been really excited about the essay on Pasco, Washington's the Pastels, since it appears here twice.) If you want to get in touch with your inner 16-year-old who just got stood up for the Prom, Last of the Garage Punk Unknowns, Vols. 7-8 will deliver the perfect soundtrack for crying in your root beer. (Or real beer you swiped from your dad.) ~ Mark Deming


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