The Countdown 5 – Complete Recordings 1965-1969 (2018)

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During the ’60s, the Countdown 5 were kingpins of the Galveston, Texas music scene. Aside from boasting the reputation as a piping-hot live act, the band cut several striking singles, some which have appeared on compilation albums over the years.

But the duly dubbed Complete Recordings 1965-1969 marks the first time everything the band ever waxed has been put together in a solitary package. Comprised of two discs, the long awaited anthology from Gear Fab Records is further plumped by a wealth of previously unreleased tracks.

Spanning a period when rock music raced through numerous changes, the Countdown 5 absorbed and excelled at such various forms with a natural ease. On top of being solid singers and musicians, the band also wrote a lot of their own impressive material.

For starters, there’s the saxophone-drenched “Bamboo Hut,” the Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels styled dance-floor groover “Shaka Shaka Na Na,” a wild and wiggy cover of “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, and a bracing version of the Johnny Otis Show’s shuffling “Willie and the Hand Jive” that emphasizes the Countdown 5’s early blues and soul roots.

A ghostly shimmer, seasoned with needling guitar licks, provides “Money Man” with a trippy tie-dyed timbre, while “Elevator,” “I Gotta Keep What I Take” and “Good Woman” slide in as tightly-tuned pop rockers rife with smashing harmonies and strapping hooks. Holding ground as another highlight is the jaunty acid-dappled “Uncle Kirby (From Brazil)” that contains a jarring piano break identical to the one heard on “Hey Bulldog” from the Beatles.

Shaped of screaming psychotic vocals and executed with determined aggression, “Candy” and the grinding funk of “Sweet Talk” follow the Countdown 5 on a hard-rocking bender. Peppered with cheesy keyboard capers and super catchy arrangements, the cute and spunky “Legs” is a bona fide bubblegum classic, and an adaption of “Hair” from the rock musical of the same name, vibrates with vim and vigor.

Additional treasures presented are “Don’t Buy Meat From the Milkman,” “Time to Spare” and “So Pass Me By,” which brim with radio-rigged sensibilities designed of strong singing, enthused playing and concrete melodies.

Rich with diversified sounds, orbiting from horn rock to psychedelic innovation to sunshine pop, Complete Recordings 1965-1969 traces the Countdown 5 reveling in the creative freedom of the era and obviously having fun doing so. Fishing the band’s tapes out of the vaults was indeed a worthy effort!


Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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