Some one hit wonders are deserving of the status simply because they lack quality material to make a further stand. But that is definitely not the case with the Syndicate of Sound, whose solitary claim to fame, “Little Girl,” peaked at the No. 8 spot on the national charts in the summer of 1966.
Smothered in a blizzard of frenzied jangling guitars partnered with a mocking snarl smirking with revenge, crowned by an evil chuckle, “Little Girl” hurls jabs at a two timing gal pal. Although this song is greater than great and has duly been christened a garage rock classic, it’s not the strongest effort in the San Jose, California band’s canon, nor does it accurately represent what they were all about.
Officially established in 1964, the Syndicate of Sound busted their buns touring the regional circuit and collected a faithful flock of fans in the process. A well rounded act, they played a mix of styles and did so with skill and proficiency. The band was so tight, together and totally tuned into the vibrant vibe of the era that it’s no exaggeration to say every track on Little Girl: The History Of The Syndicate of Sound (Performance Records) could have been a major hit single. Be it the primal pounding beat of “Get Outta My Life,” the sunny Beach Boys influenced “Tell The World,” the bluesy Mojo Men meets the Beau Brummels flavored “Prepare For Love” or the solid brass pop rock fixings of “Mary,” the Syndicate of Sound were always right in the groove. Their vocals were potent, their harmonies beamed with excitement and their chops were powered by a winning combination of taste and enthusiasm.
Flush with psychedelic innovation, “Rumors” explodes to an invigorating exhibit of super-sized choruses, followed by a swift break and a headbanging rave-up worthy of the Yardbirds, while the feathery “You” sires slivers of a smoky jazz feel. Covers of the Hollies’ plush and punctual “I’m Alive” and Eric Burdon’s gritty and grainy “Change The World” are also delivered with bare-boned emotion and incessant energy. Towards the end of their tenure, the Syndicate of Sound embodied a countrified swamp rock stance, resulting in songs such as “Brown Paper Bag,” “Mexico” and “Reverb Beat” that are just as catchy and effective as anything Creedence Clearwater Revival inhabited the airwaves with.
A few previously unreleased items additionally appear here. Fired by a blunt hard rock pitch, tinted with a trickle of freaky furnishings, “Games” mirrors the finest hours of Love and the Sons of Adam, a rendition of the Easybeats’ “Saturday Night” sparkles with might and “Way Over There” pins sophisticated string arrangements to a slick and sexy Motown exterior.
The Syndicate of Sound called it a day in 1970, which was a shame as they obviously had pounds of petrol left in the tank. Flexible and focused, the band gleaned ideas from the many musical fashions decorating the scene, but there’s no question they possessed a likeable and creative persona of their own.
A gaggle of garage punk, a nip of psychedelic sensations, a dash of soul, plenty of pop fare and reams of memorable hooks and melodies are the stuff Little Girl: The History Of The Syndicate of Sound is conceived of. Packed and stacked with immensely infectious songs, the disc is a must have for those harboring a thirst for radio-ready ’60s sights and sounds.