Liner Note Author: Jeff Jarema.
History remembers the Blues Magoos as one-hit wonders from the garage rock era who faded out not long after "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" dropped off the charts in early 1967. However, like most groups who hit the Top Ten in the '60s, the Blues Magoos tried hard to land another chart single, and it was arguably bad luck rather than a lack of skill that kept them out of the Top 40. The Mercury Singles 1966-1968 features the A- and B-sides of the eight 45s Mercury Records released during the Magoos' tenure with the label. While the band's first two albums, Psychedelic Lollipop (1966) and Electric Comic Book (1967), are better than average '60s garage efforts, The Mercury Singles is a more satisfying listening experience than either of them. That's not to say it doesn't have filler -- the whacked-out noise collage "Dante's Inferno" demonstrates why some bands shouldn't smoke reefer in the studio, and the holiday single "Jingle Bells" b/w "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" sounds like an afterthought tossed off in an afternoon. But most of the tracks find the Magoos playing at the top of their game; the opener, "Tobacco Road," is a high-powered run through every trick in the group's repertoire, "One by One" is a superb bit of jangle pop, "There She Goes" is an admirably chaotic blues-psych freakout, and their cover of the Move's "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" is great fun. The Blues Magoos were more than capable in the studio, delivering tight and energetic performances throughout this collection, and the remastering of these mono mixes gives them the solid punch they deserve. The 1992 collection Kaleidescopic Compendium: The Best of the Blues Magoos is still the best one-disc celebration of this underrated band, but The Mercury Singles 1966-1968 shows the Blues Magoos mastered the greatest rock & roll medium of their day, the 45-rpm single, and it sums up their salad days in a concise 45 minutes. ~ Mark Deming