Various artists – The Quill Records Story: The Best Of Chicago Garage Bands (1997)

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Chicago, Illinois was home to Quill Records, an independent label run by Peter Wright that released a string of singles between the years 1965 and 1967. And this package, attached with liner notes, takes a good look at what the imprint entailed.

Seething with teen angst, the Exterminators shriek and slash their way through the trashy, thrashing “Voo-Doo,” while the equally grungy, grubby “Declaration Of Independence” rebels against the British combos of the day and their long hair. From Jimmy Watson and the Original Royals, there’s an appropriately hyper-ventilating cover of the Strangeloves’ frat-rock pounder “I Wanna Do It,” and the Skunks seem to be half-asleep on the murky, drowsy “Don’t Ask Why” — which features someone speaking Chinese. Don’t ask why, indeed!

Flaunting a serious Byrds fetish, the Night Flight blends shards and chards of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “My Back Pages” into the shimmery sun-soaked patterns of “To Color Turn,” where “Without You” is played at a faster, leaner and punkier angle. The Ricochettes also boast a jingly jangly fixation, as evidenced by Searchers styled “Losing You.” Starring future New Colony Six frontman Ronnie Rice, the Gents deliver a tasty treatment of John Sebastian’s “Warm Baby” and the High-Schoolers, an all girl group sing their harmonious lungs out on the heart-tugging “Graduation Day.” Anchored by an aggressive pitch, smirking snarls and unstoppable stamina, the Common LTD’s version of Eric Burdon’s “I’m Going To Change The World” and “It’s One Thing To Say” by the Riddles are top-notch garage rockers.

Don’t be alarmed if the vocals on the tracks from the Exceptions sound mighty familiar. You got that right, that’s Peter Cetera — who needless to state, scored international success with Chicago, followed by a comparably lucrative solo career. Glossy, glistening and simply gorgeous, “As Far As I Can See” blooms brightly to a pristinely polished pop finish, and ditto for the Kinks-like “Business As Usual,” which tells the tale of a shop owner having his store robbed. Pronounced by gigantic choruses, vibrant melodies and well-oiled arrangements, these songs radiate with absolute authority.

A heavy exterior, resulting in a dynamic union of psychedelic frequencies and acid rock grooves, hovers over a trio of excellent cuts from the Rooks. Pithy hooks, flattered by a self-assured presence frame “Turquoise,” as “Fire And Ice” sizzles with hard-fisted rhythms and “Free Sunday Paper” wiggles and boogies to the crying burr of a wah-wah guitar. A grounded band, the Rooks possessed range, depth and power.

Jammed tight with catchy songs, The Quill Records Story: The Best Of Chicago Garage Bands (Collectables Records) seamlessly portrays a time and place that is permanently etched in the annals of rock and roll history.

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