Gravel Volume 2 continues in the series of rare and ultra obscure garage rock from the 1960s with more unreleased acetates, more hard to find sides and more regional garage rock (from locales like Florida and New York) that have been compiled on other garage rock comps that have since no doubt gone out of print.
There are some true obscurities here that even garage rock collectors may not have heard but obscurities which aren't just being collected for rarities sake. Both the garage rock collector and the garage rock novice should really give these a listen for those few songs which they really need to have in their collection.
This collection on Kumquat May Records, like Volume 1 in this series, is limited to only 500 copies, and while it again is hard to figure out what is rare and what has been compiled before due to the lack of any liner notes, it can be said that most garage comps of this nature give even less information that the Gravel series. Listed with each track to help us out is the band, where the band is from, the song title, and the release label.
Things start out with a Texan group. The Epic Five's I Need Your Lovin' was originally released on the Sully label (with the b-side I've Got That Feeling). I Need Your Lovin' has a surging introduction that leads into an organ drenched rocker with buried vocals, and sweet fuzz guitar on the chorus. It shows up on the compilation Let's Dig Em Up #3.
I Can't Believe by Something Else (from Washington, DC) has a tense melody with a organ led melody, a bassline focused on the rat-a-tat rhythm, harmony vocals on the chorus, a buzzing bee guitar solo and a Music Machine/Talk Talk-like ending. It was originally released on the Gama label circa 1967 and can also be found on Garage Punk Unknowns Vol. 8.
The Satins' Get Out Of My Life has that Beatles' sound so many groups attempted in the mid-60s.
I'll Leave You Crying by The Us Too Group from Fairfield, Ohio (right outside Cincinnati) was written and sung by Lenny Gartner (who switched off as the vocalist and drummer), and was originally released on the Jinx label with The Only Thing To Do on the b-side in early 1967. This version of I'll Leave You Crying has that organ combo sound that a lot of tracks have on this volume of Gravel and is uptempo with the added bonus of a sweet melodic surf-like lead guitar (funny for a group from Ohio) and ominous lead vocals.
The Us Too Group later recorded a more psychedelic version of I'll Leave You Crying on their own Us Too label as well as on the Hi Records label in mid 1967 as the b-side to The Girl With The Golden Hair under the name Us Too (which can be found on the Mindblowing Encounters Of The Purple Kind compilation).
Coming out of North Carolina, The Sounds Unlimited bring us Cool One which is a fuzzed out track that almost has a 4-track quality to it with a spoken vocal that sounds like it could've inspired Iggy and the Stooges. The vocal is buried during the verse to build-up during the chorus to a more in your face "I'm a cool one." There's a trumpet-like instrument in the mix too, which adds a subtle oddness to this track along, with a sweet fuzzed out guitar solo. Cool One was originally released on the Swal label (with To Be In Love on the b-side) and can also be found on Tougher Than Stains on London Fog Records (which incidentally was also limited to 500 copies).
Oddly enough another group called Sounds Unlimited is also featured on this compilation but it's not the same band. This one is from Florida and released their Zombies-like Nobody But You on the ABC label.
One of my favorite tracks here, The Thief by Motion has a wholly ominous vibe going from the bass and drum melody played underneath the story vocal in which the singer is robbed at gunpoint and killed by the end of the song as he laughs maniacally. There's hints of a Zombies melody in here, and a killer guitar solo with handclaps and vocal hisses emphasizing the singer being shot again and again. The Thief originally came out in 1967 on the Dore label and the b-side was called Granny Goose but is not included here.
The Aztecs were from Idaho, and their What Mood single (b/w No Darlin No, not included here) came out in 1965. People who like the organ melodies of punk groups like The Stranglers will dig this organ stomper - I wasn't super crazy about the way the vocal comes off, but it does stomp along quite nicely.
The Sloths' Makin' Love was released on the Impression label (b/w You Mean Everything To Me - not included here) which was later reissued on Back From The Grave, Vol. 4 and is a raw Bo Diddley stomper. Apparently, this is the first and more raw version of the song later covered by The Dirty Shames also released on the Impression label.
Society And Me by Branded X from New York is an interesting tune, originally released on the Lauren label in 1969, which combines a Jefferson Airplane style with a Psychotic Reactions bass melody. Things really kick into high gear in the middle with a short drum solo intro into one of the ripping-est guitar solos you will have heard in a long time. The tune plays out with the guitar solo too, never returning to the vocal. It also ends quite suddenly, like it's gotten cut off. A real find.
Lime's Love A Go Go (included here) was the b-side to Soul Kitchen (not included here) and both were included on the Storm in the Garage box set. While I thought their cover version of The Doors' Soul Kitchen was cool (when they changed the lyrics to Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen, we can work on getting stoned), I thought the b-side Love A Go-Go sounded like a cross between Smokey And the Miracles and The Zombies and it didn't really work that well. It also appeared on the Every Groovy Day compilation on Misty Lane.
The Aardvarks from Muskegon, Michigan named themselves by looking in the dictionary for the first word that caught their eye. They released the scrubbed guitar goodness meets chiming bells ringing that is I'm Higher Than I'm Down on their own label called Vark in May of 1966. It can also be found on Michigan Mayhem Vol. 1 and Pebbles Vol. 11.
The Staffs were from San Antonio, Texas, and their Another Love featured here was the b-side to their sole single release with a cover of The Kinks' I Just Can't Go To Sleep. Another Love is a fine punky number with a cool organ lead and a bubbling guitar solo (it was compiled on Highs In The Mid-Sixties, Vol. 11: Texas, Part One).
It turns out that The Trolls that were featured on the Storm In The Garage box set with their fiery cover of The Rolling Stones Stupid Girl and gummy and upbeat tune called I Don't Recall, and the Trolls featured on Gravel Vol. 1 with the uncompiled track They Don't Know are two different Trolls. The Trolls on Storm In The Garage were from Colorado, while the Trolls featured on Gravel Vol. 1, and now also on Vol. 2, were from Chicago. They Don't Know (on Vol. 1) was the b-side to their ABC Paramount single There Was A Time, while the track featured here, called Are You The One? was the b-side to their debut ABC Paramount single Every Day And Every Night from 1966. I really enjoyed this track, though garage rock aficionados might think the vocal pop harmonies are a bit twee.
The Vectors' What In The World actually came out on two different labels - Analysis and St. Lawrence. The version featured is the version from Analysis and has that Chicago harmonica blended call and response sound. It also showed up on Back From The Grave, Vol. 4.
Not much is known about The Try Angle - their pensive Writing on the Wall came out on the Orlyn label as the b-side to the song Coming Home.
There were a bunch of bands called The Bondsmen from North Carolina, Michigan (incidentally also on the Orlyn label) and Massachusetts. The Bondsmen featured here are the band from Massachusetts who had a single out on the Fleetwood label from the Concord-Sudbury area. I Don't Want Your Lovin Anymore is that frat rock sound coming out of Massachusetts in the mid-1960s and was also featured on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on Bosshoss.
The Conner Family from Oklahoma have that brotherly styled vocal harmony coupled with some interesting horn backing for their stomping rhythm on A Lesson In Love which was released on their own Conner label.
Listed as the Next Stop on Gravel Vol. 1, for some reason their track I Said No has been compiled again on Vol. 2 and their name changed slightly as the Next Step - the song hasn't changed - it's still a sweetly effecting tune that steals the more plaintive riff from The Beatles' Daytripper.
The Edicates were another organ led band found on the Mus-I-Col label out of Columbus, Ohio. Their single She's Gone is somewhat restrained until the fiery guitar solo break.
Witness Inc were actually from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and their track Not You Girl was originally released as the b-side to their second single, a version of Jezebel on the Apex label in 1967. It's quite a screamer organ workout fest.
Not the Changin' Tymes found on the Memphis Underground Music Association label, The Changing Times found here are from Pennsylvania and bring us the fuzzed out pounder called You Make It Hard.
Long before Destiny's Child were on the scene, there was Destiny's Children from Houston, Texas who released The Fall Of The Queen as the b-side to their sole single on the Ventural label in 1966. It's got gravelly vocals like Captain Beefheart and more of that organ sound that's been throughout this compilation. The Fall Of The Queen also appeared on Sixties Rebellion, Vol. 2.
The Baroque Brothers were the house band at La Maison Au Go Go in Houston, Texas along with The Six Pents in the summer of 1965. Their So Glad Was I featured here was released on the Back Beat label with an instrumental b-side called Baroque Au Go Go (not included here). So Glad Was I mixes together folk rock harmonies and Beatlesque strummings.
The Casuals Incorporated's I Realize is a tense cool one originally released on Twin Spin out of Owensboro, Kentucky which also has appeared on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on the Bosshoss label.
The Changing Tides retain the surf sound on Don't Say Good-Bye which was indeed released on the Surf label (interestingly out of Valley Stream, New York) b/w I'm Crying (not included here). It doesn't seem like much at first, but it does have an atmospheric sweet blended reverb quality which haunts you after.
The Trackers came from New Braunfels, Texas, and their track You Are My World starts out pensively enough but soon has you bouncing along as it leads to the end of this volume of Gravel.