I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults (2016)

Playback Records has compiled an interesting collection of beat music and garage rock from fellow Australian label Festival Records’ vaults – dubbing it “garage-beat.” Aussie artists from the ’60s like the 5, Toni McCann, the Black Diamonds, and the Pogs are given a generous selection of tracks to state their case on I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults.

The 5 come across as an amalgam of Swinging Blue Jeans, the Easybeats, Freddie and the Dreamers and maybe Gerry and the Pacemakers on “I’ll Be There,” “Wasting My Time,” and the upbeat “I Can’t Find Her.” “There’s Time” is perhaps their best and most aggressive, catchiest song – sounding a whole lot like the Golden Earrings (pre-Golden Earring). The 5 should’ve gone in this much-better rocking direction, as they sound more convincing here.

Brisbane teen singer Toni McCann is the real star of I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults. She is kinda sorta like Lulu, with some of her vocal grittiness and the British Invasion-inspired music she was recording in the mid-’60s, just prior to her worldwide smash ballad “To Sir with Love” took off. You could also connect Toni as a take charge female forbearer to the UK garage revival of the ’80s through the 2000s, with such girl garage bands like the Headcoatees, the Delmonas, Fabianne Delsol, and also the recent Australian girl garage band the Reprobettes.

“If You Don’t Come Back” perhaps best exemplifies the garage-rock genre, as Toni McCann really shows some more of the gritty singing style that works so well in her favor. It’s a really cool, outstanding song that definitely sets a mood. On “No,” she’s backed by the Blue Jays, creating another fab beat/R&B garage punk number. Strangely enough, none of her singles charted in Australia, which was a real shame as she had what it took to make it big time.

McCann did become a regular on the Aussie TV show Saturday Date, and she even recorded the show’s theme song. With Toni’s bell bottom pants and very long hair, she was also an ahead-of-her-time fashion maker. Maybe, if Toni McCann had been brought over and introduced to American or English kids back then she would’ve had the hit singles she so deserved.

The Black Diamonds sound more like mid-’60s Dutch garage bands including the Golden Earrings or the Motions – but in a more generic way, as in the good, mid-tempo “See the Way.” “Not This Time,” another mid-tempo tune, sounds like it could’ve been any of the American garage bands heard on the Pebbles albums. The U.S./U.K. garage-influenced title track from I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults finally shows that the Black Diamonds could come with a “just-go-for-it” performance that’s equally gritty and driving, if they were given the right song and direction. It is being their best song.

I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults continues with the Love Machine’s slightly goofy, psych-garage, and also clearly Beatles ’67-influenced “Lonely Hearts Club Christmas Party.” I will give them credit for trying a different direction in experimenting with said genres, but the silly, humorous faux-woman’s voice almost completely derails the tune. The Love Machine’s better cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” treads pop territory that’s similar to the Tremeloes.

“The Pogs’ Theme” dives into wilder Pretty Things-like garage territory, something much different from the Pogs’ usual Herman’s Hermits-style pop tunes – as in the ever-so-polite and love-longing stylings of “Hey, Miss Thompson.” This Sydney band would’ve been much better served had they continued on with the garage-punk direction of their theme song, rather than the pop direction they would subsequently take. They sound more like the Four Pennies on the Buddy Holly playful pop of “Heidi,” who is the innocent object of his desires. The Pogs’ “Aboriginal Referendum Jingle” then provides a cute, short addition at the end of I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults.

A generous and lovingly designed 27-page booklet gives you the lowdown on each artist, with many rare photos of each. If you’ve ever been curious of what the mid-’60s beat music / garage rock scene was like on the Festival Records label, then I Want, Need, Love You: Garage-Beat Nuggets From the Festival Vaults is a good place as any to start.

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Steve Elliott