The Baron Four – Silvaticus (2017)

England’s Baron Four have an authentic, mid-’60s garage-punk American sound down pat, drawing from obvious influences ripped from the pages of the Back from the Grave / Pebbles songbook. My only problem is their choice of lead vocalist.

I don’t care for bassist Mike Whittaker in that role. He also happens to be their sole songwriter as well, so therein lays the dilemma. I do get that the approach for the Baron Four is to have snotty, wild vocals. Sorry guys, but Whittaker’s not-very-good, off-key voice detracts and take away from the music.

The ironic part is, the Baron Four already have an excellent singer in the lineup. Mole, their multi-talented drummer, also happens to be the lead vocalist/bassist for another great band, the Embrooks. Here, however, he’s not being used as a singer – a big mistake.

That being said, the Baron Four’s second album Silvaticus has many fine, inspired performances. Included are 10 original tunes, plus two covers which their fans will no doubt enjoy. “It’s Alright” is a raucous album opener, if there ever was one, and sets the mood for the whole album. It’s fantastic how the Baron Four are able to replicate that garage-punk, 1965-67 sound – not only as a recording but as a band and in mono, no less.

Bo Diddley’s “I Can Tell,” one of the two covers on Silvaticus, is given a really good R&B workout, played with wild abandon. It’s a fab performance, especially from new member CK Smith, who provides the blues harp playing. “I Don’t Mind” taps into the Byrds’ ’65-era mid-tempo territory. “Walking Out” is a wild, Count Five-like tune that rocks really righteously. “How You Want to Be,” a moody ballad, ends Silvaticus on the right note.

If you’re into contemporary, vintage-sounding ’60s garage rock sounds, you just might enjoy the Baron Four.

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