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Thee Midniters are generally acknowledged to be the most fearsomely rockin’ Chicano band to come out of the fabled East L.A. scene of the mid-’60s. Although their chart success was limited to their version of “Land of a Thousand Dances” (an extended live take of which is among the tracks included here) and they were beaten to the punch on that one by fellow scenesters Cannibal & the Headhunters — the latter’s version charted a month earlier and rose higher — the rest of Thee Midniters’ output leaves no doubt that they were the more ferocious band. A few fine collections of the group’s limited output on such labels as Whittier and Chattahoochee have previously found their way to market, but Norton typically ups the ante with the most comprehensive set yet, accompanied by exhaustive liner notes by Domenic Priore and a slew of great vintage photos. Although Thee Midniters were known primarily for their sizzling covers of then-current rock & roll and R&B hits, the majority of the tracks here are originals, written by various combinations of bandmembers.

The originals (especially “Whittier Blvd.” and its cousin, “Down Whittier Blvd.”) and covers both show a heavy allegiance to funky soul of the Stax and Motown varieties (great covers of the Contours’ “Do You Love Me” and Barrett Strong’s “Money”), as well as happening bands like the Rolling Stones (“Empty Heart”) and Them (“Gloria”). On both “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (Stones via Solomon Burke) and their insane blast-out on the Mitch Ryder medley of “Devil with a Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly,” Thee Midniters are simply on fire. On occasion, the group showed a tendency to veer off into what would soon morph into psychedelia, but most of these 19 tracks, cranked to the max with blessed distortion, are unscathed, gritty rock & roll.

-Jeff Tamarkin, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Thee Midniters-IN THEE MIDNITE HOUR!!!! (2006 compilation)
zs df
320kbps

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These are excellent! If a garage rock comp is any good, it has its own distinct personality. This one is all Crypt, it has that LAS VEGAS GRIND vibe, but it’s dirty garage rock. Possibly the dirtiest and sloppiest compiled. -Ian!

Crypt Records’ Back From the Grave, Vol. 1 unearths tracks from some of the ’60s most obscure garage rockers, including brilliantly named combos like the Monacles, the One Way Streets, the Canadian Rogues, and the Alarm Clocks. The songs range from tough and alienated, like Elite’s “My Confusion” and the Lyrics’ “They Can’t Hurt Me,” to goofy fun like the One Way Streets’ “We All Love Peanut Butter.” The Novas’ “Crusher,” Me & Them Guys’ “I Loved Her So,” and the Alarm Clocks’ “Dinah Wants Religion” are among the many high points on this uncompromising, entertaining garage sampler.

The second volume from Crypt Records’ Back From the Grave series digs up more stylish, underground garage rock from ’60s groups like Murphy & the Mob, the Fabs, the Hallmarks, and the Sloths. Red Beard & the Pirates’ “Go On, Leave” is among the many high points on this uncompromising, entertaining garage sampler.

-Heather Phares, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
BACK FROM THE GRAVE PART I
mu rs

BACK FROM THE GRAVE PART II
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320kbps

Nuggets, Lenny Kaye’s original 1972 compilation of garage and psych, loomed large in the record collectors consciousness, canonizing a portion of rock that was originally laughed off while setting the standard for reissues. Rhino’s 1998 box set of the same name expanded the scope of that record, replicating most of the original while gloriously spilling forth over three additional discs — and, in doing so, it spurred a minor revolution, becoming one of the most talked-about reissues of the last half of the ’90s. Rhino knew there was an audience thirsting for a sequel, and they gave them one in 2001, but they didn’t take the easy way out. Instead of offering another round of American garage rockers, they decided to take the road less traveled, compiling four discs of hidden treasures from non-American garage and psych bands. Most of these cuts are from British bands, but there are also selections from a pre-fame Guess Who, the New Zealand act the Smoke, the Brazilian psychedelia of Os Mutantes, the exceptional Merseybeat stylings of Uruguay’s Los Shakers, and the extraordinary Peruvian combo We All Together, among other non-Brit acts. It’s a brilliant, even necessary, move, since most of these bands and songs have been only heard only by the most dedicated collectors — the kind that are willing to risk money based on just hearing a band mentioned, not to hear the group themselves. Let’s face it — apart from the Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” the Small Faces’ “Here Comes the Nice,” and the Pretty Things’ “Rosalyn,” the most familiar song here is the opener, the Creation’s “Making Time,” simply because it provided the indelible soundtrack to Max Fischer’s yearbook in Rushmore.


This song’s publishing was by Apple and Paul McCartney demanded Fire overdub
more vocal harmonies and guitar reverb, which I think muddied up the original.
I don’t think the original, as posted here, even made it to the old 45, but did make it onto
Nuggets, solidifying its superiority!

That’s four songs out of 109 — a ratio that should simply entice most die-hard rockers and record collectors, especially since the familiar names (the Move, Them, the Easybeats, the Troggs) are represented by songs that aren’t heard all that often. So, the big question is, does Nuggets, Vol. 2 deliver and is it worth spending the money for 100-plus songs you’ve never heard before? Well, if you’re even slightly interested in this, the answer is yes. That doesn’t mean this isn’t without its faults — like any garage rock, if it’s listened to in once concentrated burst, it becomes a little samey, which is also a by-product of its biggest flaw, namely how the compilers favor songs that sound like American garage and downplaying the delirious, precious frutiness of British psych. Still, that’s a minor complaint, because the simple fact of the matter is this — there’s no better way to fall in love with this music, not just because it does its job so well, it just simply doesn’t have any peers. Furthermore, a lot of this stuff is pretty hard to come by (personally, I spent about 150 dollars on a complete Idle Race collection, and it’s much better to get their two best songs here). Also, much of the bands here are best heard in this context, since they have a song, maybe three, that were stunners — and all of these stunners in one place is stunning.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
DISC 1
DISC 2
DISC 3
DISC 4
320kbps

Compiled by rock critic and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, 1972’s Nuggets was the anthology responsible for reviving interest in mid-’60s American garage rock. After the proliferation of specialized volumes with the Nuggets title by reissue label Rhino, this four-CD box set is intended as the ideal summation/expansion of the Nuggets concept. The first CD reproduces, track-by-track, the original 27-song Nuggets, while the other three CDs add what may be considered 91 bonus tracks, from the biggest-selling garage hits (“Louie Louie,” “Wooly Bully”) to some cuts that only devout ’60s specialists will know. All important permutations of the mid-’60s garage style are present: primitive fuzz, folk-rock, horn rock, psychedelic dementia, protest rock, etc. Major heroes the Music Machine, the Seeds, the Shadows of Knight, the Electric Prunes, the Standells, the Sonics, the Chocolate Watch Band, and many others are all represented, often by more than one song. If it’s possible to give a five-star rating with reservations, it’s tempting to do so here. No one could have possibly satisfied all rabid garage collectors with a mere 118 songs, but that’s not really the point here; the object was to provide a wide-ranging box set of ’60s garage rock that would entertain, represent the considerable span of garage styles, and be massive — yet affordable — for the committed rock fan who nonetheless doesn’t want everything. Rhino has succeeded, while also presenting the songs in the best possible quality (in mono), whether from the master tapes or best existing copies. With a 100-page booklet of new liner notes (Kaye’s original annotation is also included), it is the best investment possible for those who thirst for more ’60s garage rock than is available on the best single-volume compilations, with a track selection geared toward cream-of-the-crop quality and variety rather than narrow collector prejudices.

-Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
DISC 1
DISC 2
DISC 3
DISC 4
320kbps

Re-up! -Ian!

In an era when Clear Channel-owned stations play the same 30 corporate-approved pop hits over and over in a never-ending loop, it seems impossible to believe there was ever a place in radio for DJs like Pittsburgh icon Mad Mike Metrovich. Guys like Metrovich were the motor-mouthed heralds of a new teen culture, larger-than-life tastemakers and soothsayers whose quirks and sensibilities profoundly shaped the musical landscape as far as the station signal carried. Mad Mike was a particularly compelling character by any metric, with his WZUM show virtually ignoring the British Invasion in favor of local hits, rockabilly classics, and R&B scorchers that championed a raw, dynamic sound presaging the emerging garage rock scene. (Further bolstering his anti-authoritarian stance, Metrovich steadfastly refused to identify the records he spun either on the air or at live gigs, creating even more rabid listener interest in his playlists.) The Mad Mike Monsters series assembles more than a dozen staples from Metrovich’s 1964-1967 heyday, bolstered by WZUM radio spots and other vintage ephemera — highlights include the Del-Mars’ “Snacky Poo,” the Marquis Chimps’ “Red Rose Tea,” the Renegades’ “Geronimo,” and the Grand Prees’ “Jungle Fever.”

-Jason Ankeny, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
MAD MIKE MONSTERS VOL. I
MAD MIKE MONSTERS VOL. II
MAD MIKE MONSTERS VOL. III
320kbps

One of the great lost ’60s albums. Side one includes all six of the tracks the Misunderstood recorded in England in 1966, with magnificent guitar work and nervy, ambitious (if a bit overtly cosmic) songwriting that combines some of the best aspects of the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. Remember that Pink Floyd and Hendrix had yet to record when these sides were waxed; they aren’t derivations, but genuinely innovative and groundbreaking performances. Side two contains seven pre-psychedelic demos from their U.S. garage days in the mid-’60s that, while not nearly as important as their 1966 work, are solid, crunching R&B-soaked rock in the tradition of their chief British influences.

-Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
The Misunderstood-BEFORE THE DREAM FADED (1966, 1982 compilation)
320kbps

Spirit’s debut unveiled a band that seemed determine to out-eclecticize everybody else on the California psychedelic scene, with its melange of rock, jazz, blues, folk-rock, and even a bit of classical and Indian music. Teenaged Randy California immediately established a signature sound with his humming, sustain-heavy tone; middle-aged drummer Ed Cassidy gave the group unusual versatility; and the songs tackled unusual lyrical themes, like “Fresh Garbage” and “Mechanical World.” As is often the case in such hybrids, the sum fell somewhat short of the parts; they could play more styles than almost any other group, but couldn’t play (or, more crucially, write) as well as the top acts in any given one of those styles. There’s some interesting stuff here, nonetheless; “Uncle Jack” shows some solid psych-pop instincts, and it sounds like Led Zeppelin lifted the opening guitar lines of “Taurus” for their own much more famous “Stairway to Heaven.”

-Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Spirit-SPIRIT (1968)
320kbps

So far, one volume of this exists for Indiana. There’s THREE Ohio volumes, THREE Florida volumes, but NO New Jersey volumes. Does anybody know of a New Jersey garage/frat rock/60s/70s comp? -Ian!

Gear Fab’s Psychedelic States series, which collects vintage 1960s garage rock singles on a regional, state-by-state basis, is extremely valuable in an archaeological sort of way, since these rare 45-rpm artifacts afford an interesting glimpse into the music of a specific time, place, and demographic, and in a larger context, allow for a region-to-region comparison of the similarities and differences in the garage band phenomenon. That’s the scholarly way to look at these collections. Musically, however, most of these singles are badly recorded, poorly performed, and clich├ęd and derivative at almost every level, which, of course, is probably why they’re so prized by collectors. This volume, which spotlights the Hoosier State, abounds with badly recorded, rhythmically challenged bands that scream and fuzz-chord their way through crude songs with a take-no-prisoners attitude and little else going for them. In other words, it’s an utterly fascinating glimpse at a time in the U.S. when every garage on the block seemed to have a band rehearsing in it, a glimpse at a true suburban folk movement where owning an instrument was at least as important as knowing how to properly play it and nowhere close to as important as the need to simply make noise.

Nothing here redefines Indiana as the epicenter of rock & roll in the 1960s, and nothing here was even so much as a regional hit, but this collection (like the others in this series) has all the charm of a truly bad horror film, the kind where you can’t help but root for the monster to destroy everything in sight. Highlights? It’s hard to say. The Endd’s shaky, tottering “Gonna Send You Back to Your Mother” from 1967 is spooky and oddly haunting, even infectious in a creepy way. The Chevelles’ “Just Once in My Life,” also from 1967, bounces along on a simple yet effective melody. The Serfmen’s “Cry” from 1964 is a fascinatingly ragged hybrid of “Louie, Louie” and “Twist and Shout.” The Jades’ “Come Back” from 1967 is simple and solid, and might even have been a hit if it weren’t so derivatively generic, which makes one wonder even more why it wasn’t a hit. Again, this collection will probably mean more to historians and collectors than it will to anyone else, and none of these singles could be deemed essential by any stretch of reasoning, but by sheer accumulation these raw, ragged sides show that there was indeed something happening, Mr. Jones, even in Indiana.

-Steve Leggett, allmusic.com

Supplemental visual accompaniment:

GARAGEHANGOVER: INDIANA
INDIANA 45s

DOWNLOAD:
Various Artists-PSYCHEDELIC STATES: INDIANA IN THE 60’s VOL. 1 (2006 compilation)
320kbps, testing out a new upload service