Forgotten series: The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Outside (1967)

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Coming to be in 1965, the Ugly Ducklings from Toronto, Ontario, Canada held ground as one of the region’s most popular acts of the era. The band has actually remained quite active throughout the years, and are particularly worshiped by garage rock aficionados.

Originally pressed on the Yorktown label in 1967, Somewhere Outside is firmly modeled on the bluesy beat sounds of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and the Pretty Things. But no way are the Ugly Ducklings second-rate imitations of the combos they cite as influences.

To begin with, the band’s energy is fresh and lively, giving them a personality of their own. As well, their songwriting is direct, disciplined and lacks no shortage of melodies.

Each track on Somewhere Outside (reissued in 1998 by Unidisc Music Inc.) conveys a cool factor that can’t be denied. The Ugly Ducklings really have the moves and the timing to play this style of music. Passion runs high, as you can hear how excited and attentive the band is while laying down the grooves.

Coated with sizzling fuzz guitars, hostile vocals and a hook sharper than a set vampire fangs, “Just In Case You Wonder” illustrates everything wicked and wild there is about traditional garage rock. A seriously annoyed tenor, magnified by shaking rhythms, aggressive drumming and raucous riffing further pierce cuts like “Nothin’” and “She Ain’t No Use To Me,” while an instrumental, “Windy City (Noise At The North End)” shuffles and strolls along at a nice hip swinging clip.

A couple of ballad-type numbers, accompanied by a thumping cover of Bo Diddley’s “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” and an assured treatment of Lori Burton and Pam Sawyer’s soul-scented pop nugget “Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Anymore,” which was made famous by the Young Rascals, additionally appear on the disc.

Truly a tour de force of its kind, Somewhere Outside was recorded by a band whose stamina, momentum and love for rock and roll is contagious. May the Ugly Ducklings forever do their thing!

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