Forgotten series: Alice Cooper, Five Americans, others – Garagelands, Volume One (1999)

This short-lived series, which produced only two installments, focuses on songs from the 1960s that never came within sniffing distance of hitting the national Top 40 charts. Although the tunes may be obscure, a few of the performers are not, and are bound to be recognized by even the most casual music fan.

For instance, there’s the Five Americans, whose gritty and growling “Don’t Blame Me” resembles a super session between the Animals and the Dave Clark Five.

Alice Cooper also makes an appearance here with a pair of bands he fronted prior to shocking and shaking the world to its core. Both “Don’t Lose Your Mind” by the Spiders and “Lay Down And Die Goodbye” from the Nazz (not to be confused with Todd Rundgren’s band of the same name) project a dark and disturbing ambiance that freely foreshadows the sort of stuff Alice would soon be feeding the masses with.

Before they were known as the Hudson Brothers and turned into teen idols, siblings Bill, Mark and Brett were called the New Yorkers and released some fine singles. Chosen for inclusion on Garagelands Volume One (Bam Caruso Records) is the moody “Mr. Kirby,” which shares the story of a shallow man in the vein of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Jones, and is set to a shivery raga rock beat.

The tripping twinklings of Joker’s Wild’s “All I See Is You” checks in as a surefire highlight on the collection, along with the Third Booth’s brisk and bouncy “I Need Love,” the Era of Sound’s choppy Kinks styled “Girl In The Mini-Skirt,” and “She’s Gonna Cry” by the Onion Rings, which fuses soulful brass arrangements with a garage rock backbone to great effects.

Devised of chugging guitars and punishing rhythms, the Plastic Blues Band’s “Gone” suggests the twin influences of Jimi Hendrix and Steppenwolf, while the Corporate Image’s cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” is executed at a fast and furious clip, and the Peppermint Trolley Company’s “9 O’Clock Business Man” gushes gracefully to a paisley-padded presence formed of tidy melodies and Association inspired harmonies.

Torched by the roar of a motorcycle, the Leather Boy’s “On The Go” races and rumbles with aggression, the Beckett Quintet’s “No Correspondence” yields a hard driving folk rock stance, and slick and smooth pop shadings dictate the doings on “Gypsy Girl” from Vinnie Basil and the Staccatos.

Loaded with inviting tracks, Garagelands Volume One is the kind of record you can listen to from start to finish. No liner notes or any information about the bands accompany the package, but that’s just a minor gripe. The songs speak for themselves!

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" hit No. 4 on the national charts, which is ironically, one of her favorite songs - especially the version by John Lennon. She has contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Her own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • JC Mosquito

    Looks great, like an alternate Nuggets, Lenny Kaye’s original excavation of the 1960s musical equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits. Why is it a $40 import for only 2 CDs? Probably because it’s out of print, which is too bad – this heritage material should be readily available, especially in it’s own country.