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Northwest Battle of the Bands Volume 4


Northwest Battle of the Bands Volume 4


Big Beat

various artists CD

Northwest Battle of the Bands Volume 4 CD coverBig Beat keeps the fury going in this ever incredible compilation series of 1960s garage rock. Volumes 1 through 3 have been exercises in obscurities, classics, and unreleased gems, and Volume 4 keeps up the goodness on all fronts. It's a no-brainer, if you like the other 3 volumes in this series, dig The Sonics, Don & the Goodtimes, and the Pacific Northwest 1960s garage rock sound, you should check out the latest volume of The Northwest Battle of the Bands.

It's really no surprise to listen and learn how great this compilation is, because Jerden Records was the place to be in the Pacific Northwest in the 60s. Even though none of this stuff gave the label the hit it so sorely needed, this is the stuff of garage rock collector's dreams.

The feedback intro that starts out the pounding rocker of I Think I Love You by Woody Carr & The El Caminos is the equal to Woody's screeches, the rock solid pounding drums and the intense organ.

Thee Unusuals' I'm Walkin', Babe keeps the vocal screeches and the intense organ in a creeping (and creepy) piece of intense garage rock.

For those of us looking for a reason to dig The New Yorkers (beyond the fact that they featured members of The Hudson Brothers), your chance has finally come on The Monkees' Head / psych inspired Mr. Kirby. Their other tune featured here is not so classic, but She's Gone is still a pretty nice take on the more folk rock oriented Rolling Stones sound of 1967.

It's interesting to hear the unreleased Merrilee & Turnabouts song Would I where Merrilee doesn't even turn in a vocal, instead letting the drummer sing on this folk rock gem, a couple of years before Chips Moman put the right touch on them with Angel in the Morning and when they were trying out for Jerden Records.

Everybody Needs Somebody To Love was recorded by a slew of groups from The Rolling Stones to The Blues Brothers, but nothing quite matches Jack Horner & The Plums incredible guitar solo on this unreleased version of this Solomon Burke chestnut.

Many groups were performing and recording Help Yourself Baby in the mid 60s including The Standells on their In Person at P.J.'s album - well, The Beachcombers give them a run for their money on their version [which was also a highlight on Norton's Northwest Killers, Vol.3: Work It on Out (1965-1966)].

Speaking of guitars - I Need Her by The Ceptors has an incredible chunky guitar sound, and even though the vocals don't live up to that guitar sound, this is definitely an interesting tune from 1967.

The Express do a rocking job on The Kingsmen's Long Green (which was also recorded by Don & The Goodtimes) issued here without the fake audience applause which originally appeared on the single release in 1966.

Rocky & The Riddlers (featured on previous Big Beat compilations as Rocky & His Friends) gives us some fun on Batman, a frat rocking tribute to the mid-60s tv show with lead vocals reminiscent of The Robbs.

Don & The Goodtimes offer up a more sophisticated pop sound on You Did It Before - with vocal harmonies and melodically stinging lead guitar melody. This is an incredible lost gem by Don & The Goodtimes which was recorded in 1966 but not released until 1968. Also featured here is an unreleased demo called Stop Telling Lies which definitely shows the working progress that was Don & The Goodtimes on this haunting ballad with a unique buildup.

The unreleased take on The Who's Anyhow Anyway Anywhere by The Live Five is a fascinating live sounding version of this song, which has always sounded muddy in its original version (to me). One can understand why this version remained unreleased as one hears the lead guitar go slightly out of tune during the Pete Townsend inspired guitar strums - which just adds to that live sound now.

Tom Thumb & The Casuals give us an alternate take of their blistering anti-war song The Draft which is a definite highlight of this set.

The Sonics are finally featured on track 29, but I'm sure if you are investigating this compilation you already have music by the Pacific Northwest's best band. Here we get to hear one of the best tunes from their Hollywood recordings called I'm Going Home, a pounding ode of homesickness.

---Patrick, June 1, 2004