Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Music I Liked And Didn't - 2/14/07

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V/A: Ain’t It Hard! Garage And Psych From Viva Records CD (Sundazed) - This CD documents the Viva Records label that was operated by legendary producer, Snuff Garrett, in LA during the mid-60’s. It contains 16 tracks of well-crafted, comercially leaning, but still interesting, garage, pop, and psych. Highlights include the easy, lysergic pop of Gypsy Trips and the amazing exploito-psych sounds of the Sound Sandwich.

This collection presents an interesting juxtaposition in contrast to the recently issued collection, “Scream Loud!!!”, which documented Michigan’s Fenton label. While both collections cover a similar stylistic range of material (garage punk/psych/pop) and none of the groups represented on either collection made any significant impact in their own right, that’s where the similarities end. In contrast to the relatively lo-tech recordings made by the D. I. Y. bands on Fenton, these Viva groups were recording in high quality LA studios, usually bolstered by studio musicians. As a result, these recordings sound big and well-produced, containing all those nice, little exploito-psych touches. These are recordings made with the aim (and it was a relatively realistic goal at that!) of making a commercially successful record; one that might lead to a real career in the music biz. And many of the artists (J. J. Cale, Kenny Loggins, and Leon Russell, for example) on these recordings did, in fact, go on to lengthy careers in the music industry with varying degrees of artistic and commercial success. While I’m sure the bands on the Fenton collection also harbored dreams of becoming teen sensations, the chances of those dreams being fulfilled were much more lottery-esque in nature and, if I’m not mistaken (and I’m not actually checking the liner notes of the Fenton box to verify this; I’m going on memory), the most success that any member of any of the Fenton bands went on to achieve was playing in the mid-line ballroom-era group from Detroit, the Frost.

While the tracks on “Ain’t It Hard” certainly don’t possess the naive charm nor the raw energy of the material from the Fenton box, there are several solid tracks of merit and this collection does provide a nice sonic snapshot of the just bubbling under, 60’s Sunset Strip scene.

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Running Count For The Year

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