Italian reissue label Akarma give us the garage rock box set of the year to salivate over. Any garage rock buff should be excited about this collection, though if you've been buying compilations like Garage Punk Unknowns or Psychedelic Unknowns, you may already have a lot of these bands, but there are a few unreleased and rare tracks to whet your curiosity like the unreleased track by The Damnation of Adam Blessing or the pounding cover of Arthur Lee and Love's 7 and 7 Is by The Soulbenders. For 3 cds at $45 on an Italian import does seem like a strange way to pick up rare and obscure 1960s garage rock out of the USA, but it is nice having all of this great stuff in one place - plus their are picture sleeves of the single artwork when available and information on each band which seems to have been culled from the Borderline Books' Fuzz Acid & Flowers a great place to read about these bands.
Storm in the Garage: Disc One
We start out with the one two punch of The Alliance's covers of Paul Simon's Somewhere They Can't Find Me and The Monkees' (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone. Really fuzzed out stuff. Next up is The Benders at their freakout best on You Can't Tame Me and its haunting blue ballad of a b-side - Got Me Down.
Cirkyt have some competent soul pop in That's The Way Life Is and Six Page Letter. God Is Alive In Argentina by The Doppler Effect is love, peace and happiness - 1966 style. The Doppler Effect's b-side Memphis Woman is more blues rock styled. The Intruders (not the Cowboys to Girls band) offer up two angst ridden mid-paced rock songs with Total Raunch and Ruins.
Lawson & Four More's If You Want Me You Can Find Me is that Bo Diddley meets Bob Dylan sound we usually equate with The Pretty Things. This song is one of the highlights of the first disc. Back For More is a soulful party stomper in a simmering mode. Lime offer up a cool cover version of The Doors' Soul Kitchen in which they change the lyrics to "Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen, we can work on getting stoned." The b-side Love A Go-Go sounds like a cross between Smokey And the Miracles and The Zombies which doesn't really work that well.
The Marauders (of which there were many... bands with this name...) really rock out on Since I Met You and I Don't Know Why is drenched in the harmony vocals. Thee Saints and The Prince of Darkness work hard on Hey Girl and Running Away From You but sound mostly like so-so frat rock. The Soulbenders make their first appearance and end disc one with a great version of Hey Joe and I Can't Believe In Love. They are definitely in the upper echelon of goodness on Storm in the Garage.
Storm in the Garage: Disc Two
A fiery version of The Stone's Stupid Girl by The Trolls start things out strong on disc two. The Trolls' I Don't Recall is a bit more gummy and upbeat but really nicely done with an organ flourish and vocal line which makes this b-side work.
Young Blues (the b-side of...) and The Vagrants' I Can't Make A Friend are both rocking songs. Young Blues is more punk but I Can't Make A Friend has more variety in the arrangement. The Vagrants had a young Leslie West (later of rock band Mountain).
An ok version of George Harrison's If I Needed Someone by The Lost and Found is next - they needed a better drummer to really make this version great. A fun song by Boy Blues - Coming Down To You quotes from the Batman theme and some great fuzz moments reminded me of early Floyd.
The Bush do an ok take on Got Love If You Want It, it didn't do much for me though it's pretty soulful. The b-side Feeling Sad And Lonely is a little better, but generally this band was not my style. There is a pretty sweet cover of The Who's Circles (Instant Party) by The Chesmann Square - it's a bit more laidback than the original. The b-side Try is really amazingly sweet ballad and is not listed on the cd case.
The David have been rediscovered nowadays thanks the reissue of their album Another Day, Another Lifetime which is a classic slice of 60s psych pop a la The Left Banke. A really sweet ballad by The David is heard on I'm Not Alone; Sweet December is an even better hard rocker - both of these 45 sides were also included on the album.
There's creepy sounding folk rock on the Disraeli single sides What Will The New Day Bring and Spinnin' Round. There's pretty good rocking tunes by Ohio's The Epics in White Collar House and She Believed In Me - the original 45 fetches big bucks because it's so rare.
For some reason there's a problem with this disc and I couldn't play tracks 21-24 on this disc.
Storm in the Garage: Disc Three
The Intruders (not the same Intruders from disc one - and still not the not the Cowboys to Girls band) start out disc three of Storm in the Garage with She's Mine which has some catchy fuzz guitar. The b-side Now That You Know Me is a folk punk ballad.
The Jujus offer up the Stones' inspired Do You Understand Me? and I'm Really Sorry but both lack the vocal punch needed to send these sides into the classic realm. A little more work and these could've really worked, but as they ended up, these sides are still not something to sneeze at.
Kyks - are basic ho-hum punked up pop with some nice fuzz on Where Are You? and the more subdued When Love Comes Searching. There stuff pales in comparison to the awesome version from '66 by Little Boy Blues of I Can Only Give You Everything with a buzzing bee styled guitar solo and You Don't Love Me with hot harmonica - both made before this band went V. Fudge drudge in '68.
Little Phil And The Nightshadows' 60 Second Swinger is a swinging mod organ number with punchy rhythm and drive while and In The Air is more soulfully tense. The Motifs give us laidback punker beat kiss-offs called Molly and If I Gave You Love. Phaser action in '66 from Little Rock's The Romans on You Do Something To Me - where sweet organ solo meets a fuzz guitar solo in layers of sweet phaser.
We're still hearing shades of their surf beginnings on The Rumbles sweet harmony pop on Everybody's Talkin'. Unchain My Heart is a soul drenched fuzz popper by The Undertakers out of Texas.
The Soulbenders offer up a killer version of Love's 7 & & Is and why it's this deep on this compilation I don't know. Same goes for the astonishing unreleased Painter by The Damnation of Adam Blessing - this one sounds like anthemic hard rock of the first order - really sweet and different for this compilation. Too bad there's only one song by The Damnation of Adam Blessing found here though Akarma Records has also reissued The Damnation of Adam Blessing albums - so I guess this is a taster for those reissues.
The Storm ends with the fuzzed out Finch - Nothing in the Sun and Let It Be are both shades of the hard rock to come in the late 1960s/early 1970s - and two melodramatic Bert Sommer's covers by The Vagrants - The Final Hour and Your Hasty Heart point the way for the bubblegum future.