Terry Knight and the Pack – Reflections

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When I picked up this album, I can honestly say that I had never heard a single song by Terry Knight and the Pack. I bought it because I remembered their name from an article I had read on 60s garage rock. Reflections is the second (and last) studio album Terry Knight and the Pack would record. It was originally released in 1967 on the Lucky Eleven label. It was rereleased by Cameo (the copy I own) the same year. Terry Knight and the Pack may have faded into complete obscurity if Don Brewer and Mark Farner of the Pack had not gone on to form Grand Funk Railroad in the early 70s. (Terry Knight was the original manager of GFR.) This being true, don’t let your opinions of Grand Funk Railroad affect your opinions of Terry Knight and the Pack; they sound nothing alike. In fact, the opening track, “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show,” sounds more like something off an album The Kink’s could have put out in the mid-60s. It has that silly, fun garage rock sound that came to define an era. It’s really a great song to open the album with. The next song, “Love, Love, Love, Love, Love” is a bluesy garage jam that really gets your soul shaking. It’s a little harder than the other songs––almost protopunk. It would later be covered by Brownsville Station, reaching a much wider audience. “Come With Me” mellows out the album a little bit, but it’s still a solid tune. “Got to Find My Baby” injects a faster honky-tonk rhythm into the album. It’s perhaps the most catchy tune on the album. The fifth song, “This Precious Time,” is a psychedelic pop song. I like that they try to keep things fresh, but they are much better at the faster, heavy sounds of garage rock. Nevertheless, it’s worth a listen. Side one closes with “Anybody’s Apple Tree,” a sweet piano tune. It’s good, but still not as strong as the first four songs of the album. If you thought the album was losing steam, “The Train,” starts off with a piercing scream and a fast tempo with a blazing organ. It reenergizes the album and sets up side two for success. The next song, “Dimestore Debutante,” gets a zero for originality but a 10 for quality. That is, from the arrangement to Terry Knight’s voice to everything else, it sounds exactly like Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” with different words. You cannot listen to the song and not think about Dylan; it’s that obvious of a rip off. However, what an amazing song to rip off. “Dirty Lady” follows as an slow, rhythmic, vocal-driven number that sounds like it would come from a hacienda in a Mexican-gangster movie. It’s strange but kind of cool. The next song, “Love Goddess of the Sunset Strip,” is a psychedelic rock tune that could only come out of the 60s. Like the previous song: it’s strange but kind of cool. “Forever and a Day” is one of the most far out psychedelic songs I’ve ever heard. It is so weird, that the only explanation seems to be hallucinogenic drugs. All that being said, I absolutely love it! I can’t explain it; it’s just fun. The album closes with a cover of The Rolling Stones’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Don’t expect the radio-friendly version we all know and love. This cover is much harder, and the emotion is much stronger. It’s hard to compare the two, but in some ways this version seems to fit the words better than the radio-friendly version by The Stones. Overall, this album is very 60s underground. It has some tunes that you will kick yourself for never having heard before. It also has a couple songs that may push your boundaries of weirdness in music. The variety in this album is enough of a reason to buy the album in and of itself. It’s garage rock; it’s psychedelic rock; it’s Bob Dylan; it’s weird; it’s good. I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll love on it. You’ll probably also find something you don’t care for on it, but it’s uniqueness makes it worth picking up.  B+

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The Kingsmen – The Kingsmen in Person

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For my next album review, I’ve decided to go with something that everyone probably knows but doesn’t fully know. Most everyone would recognize the song, “Louie, Louie,” but only a small number of people could actually name the band who performed it, and even fewer could name another song by that band. Thus, this 1963 album by The Kingsmen seemed like a great choice for this blog. The Kingsmen in Person, the group’s first album, is a live album released by Wand Records. The Kingsmen would go on to record several more albums in the mid-60s until fading into obscurity in the late 60s. An interesting thing about this album: Jack Ely, the lead singer on “Louie, Louie” quit the band after the song was recorded (A studio version of the song was released as a single before this album) but before this live album was recorded. Thus, Lynn Easton would lip-synch this song in live performances until a lawsuit put an end to that practice. This infamous song opens up the album. Of course it’s amazing. It was and remains a garage rock standard. Very fews band were as pure garage rock as The Kingsmen. The next song, “The Waiting” is also a spectacular garage rock song. “Mojo Workout” follows with a predominately instrumental sound that flows well in the album. The fourth song of the album, “Fever” is a love song with bluesy influence and a heavy keyboard. It’s just as strong as the previous tracks. Although it may espouse a slightly greedy sentiment, “Money” is straight to the roots of that garage sound. “Bent Scepter” closes side one of the album as an instrumental jam that helps round out all the other tracks thus far. Side one of this album is just truly amazing. Side two of this album opens with “Long Tall Texan.” This song is extremely interesting because it’s much more of a rockabilly number than a garage rock song. Although The Kingsmen very rarely strayed from that pure garage rock sound, this song proves that there is an exception to every rule. And it’s a very good exception. The next song, “You Can’t Sit Down” is an instrumental that does exactly as its name implies: it makes you want to dance. The song that was covered by every band in the early 60s, including The Beatles and The Who, “Twist & Shout” follows. Their version is quite similar to the popular version recorded by The Beatles; nonetheless, it’s a fun song. A song titled “J. A. J.” follows as an instrumental. It, too, is a solid track. The next song, “Night Train” is also an instrumental. It’s a little faster and a little more fun. The album closes with “Mashed Potatoes,” yet another instrumental. (I guess the band wasn’t much on vocals after Jack Ely quit.) This one, too, has a strong garage rock, danceable sound that does much to equate The Kingsmen with the garage rock movement. Overall, this album is fantastic. If you’re at all interested in garage rock, this album is a must. This album could stand as a model for other garage rock albums. Go buy it now.  A