Various Artists "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" (Gear Fab Records, 2014)
For nearly twenty years, the Gear Fab label, located in Colorado, has been cranking out collections devoted to regional music scenes of the sixties. Patterned after the spirit of heralded compilation albums such as "Pebbles," "Back From The Grave," "Mindrocker," and "Psychedelic Unknowns," the series points the laser beam at folks that never had hit singles, but may have been as big as the Beatles in the eyes of local fans. Or in some cases, the bands were so obscure their resumes consisted of playing only a handful of neighborhood gigs. But that's what makes "Psychedelic States" so special. Along with the cool tunes these discs offer, information on the acts and photos seal the sets, leading to be historical documents.
A double album, "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" supplies a good look at an area that really hasn't been covered much. Despite the title of the package , the majority of stuff here leans towards the garage rock side of the fence rather than surrealistic sojourns. Because these bands weren't afforded the luxury of high-end production facilities and in certain circumstances, were still in the process of sharpening their chops, the recordings are raw and economical. But hey, that's rock and roll, not Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Mariah Carey. Passion over polish, and enthusiasm over elegance is the name of the game.
Splattered with a squawking harmonica and a killer hook, the bluesy pop of "I Need Love" by the Mad Hatters, the slippery roll of "I'm Gone Slide," from the Dagenites, the Henchmen's tough and taunting "Get Off My Back," the misty melancholy of "Letters Of Love" by the Creatures, the peppy punch of the Shoremen's "Dance USA!," and the breezy zip of "Psychedelic Ride" from the Ides are only a taste of treasures to be admired. Three basic chords, a catchy delivery, and a sincere dedication to the music drive these songs to be the nuggets they are. Propelled by a harsh groove and a threatening snarl, "Shadows" by Attic of Sounds serves to be another top-tier track, along with the edgy "I Can't Wait Till Friday Comes" from the Hard Times.
Further core cuts on "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60's" are the innovative reflexes of "Everything Would Be Fine" by the Fallen Angels, whose singles and two full-length albums are classics of the era and worth hunting down, the intense acid rock expressions of the Urch Perch's "Sweet Life," the swaggering soul of the fast and frantic "Love" from the Bad Boys, and the mesmerizing flower pop of "Tiny Little Seeds" by the Persuaders. Songs from Tomorrow's People, the Stratfords, Cherry Pink Reason, the Koffee Beans, and the New Diablos also burn brightly. And for those with a soft spot for dramatic ballads, there's Brandi Laine's "Haight Street Dream," which glimmers and glows to chillingly powerful vocals bristling with naked emotion. But the fact is, each tune on "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" has its own charm and personality. And what's even more inviting is most of the songs have never appeared on similarly-inclined anthologies before. The "Psychedelic States" series is known for discovering super rare relics, and I must say they've definitely unearthed a batch of fascinating fossils with this effort.
Review made by Beverly Paterson/2014
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