V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 12 LP

Part two of the Texas retrospective in this on-going series has dug up a mixed bag. Side one is the ” acid-punk” side, and it’s a 50/50 proposition: highlights are by the REMAINING FEW and STEREO SHOESTRING, the rest being too far gone on the lighter weight psych side. Side two is the “pop” side, and it’s less than a 50/50 deal.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 20: The Continent Lashes Back! European Garage Rock Part 4, Sweden LP

This on-going chronicle of unknowns swings to Sweden, 1964-67. Most of the tracks are Mersey, Mod, or R’n’B, with the hottest coming from the PALMES, HEP STARS, and TAGES. This volume, unlike the others, contains many live tracks, some of which aren’t the hottest sound quality.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 14: The Northwest, Part 2 LP

This latest in the series (which is not being issued in sequential order) covers the Pacific Northwest, home of many of the earliest U.S. garage bands like the SONICS, WAILERS, KINGSMEN, and PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS, none of whom appear here. What does appear are a host of lesser-knowns, bands that would play bars/frats and rock out. Hottest are SIR RALEIGH, and the STATICS. The rest will appeal only to historians, with the usual fine liner notes by Lee Joseph.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 19: The Continent Lashes Back! Pt. 3 Denmark LP

Taking their cue from the British “Big Beat” sound, these Danish bands are more Mersey than punk or raging R’n’B. While not a bad compendium, this record will mainly appeal to avid collectors as the recording facilities in Denmark were not the best. Plus, many of the tunes are covers, or covers of covers, and somewhat inferior at that. Historical document.

V/A Pebbles 17 LP

A non-geographical comp, this one is a cut above some of the previous multitude. The OTHERS, ROGUES, BRIMSTONES, and STYX come across with some cool ditties in punk and folk rock veins. Good comp job by Lee Joseph of YARD TRAUMA.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 18-22 LPs

The ’60s reissues continue to pour out: #18 is Colorado, a mixed bag but with cool stuff from MOONRAKERS. #19 covers Michigan (Pt. 3), with a pre-STOOGES track of Iggy with the IGUANAS. #20 is LA (Pt. 4), and might well be the best of the new lot with classics from the MUGWUMPS, LAST WORDS, and others. #21 covers Ohio (Pt. 2) with average material. Finally, #22, and the South (Pt. 2), with a lot of folk rock stuff and a classic by DICK WATSON 5 extolling the virtues of intellectualism!

V/A Pebbles 16 LP

I guess this is where we start hitting the dross of Greg Shaw’s collection. Instead of great, nasty fuzzy punk songs from the ’60s, we’re treated to wimpy pop bands masquerading as hip political folk rock (aargh!). Although the two tracks by the GRAVEYARD 5 are pretty cool, it’s getting harder and harder to recommend this series when there are excellent compilations elsewhere.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 15 LP

Somehow omitting Vol. 14, this series of ’60s obscurities lurches on to Wisconsin, Part 2. While mainly on the softer, poppier folk-rock side, many of these tunes are pretty cool, with lots of vocal harmonies and an occasional freakout. Decent.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 13 LP

Supposedly a return to the “punk” side of Texas ’60s music, it’s not quite the wailer I had hoped for. While there’s some killer stuff by the BRIKS, FANATICS, and BARONS (MOUSE AND THE TRAPS rip-off), there’s also an awful lot of filler here. Hope that’s it for the Texas series.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 1-3 LPs

Three amazing albums that chronicle the exciting musical history of the L.A. youth underground. Volume 1 (1965) presents the raw ’60s punk sound that once blew my young mind, and includes such items as the blasting Colony classic, “All I Want,” and the neanderthal sneer of the AVENGERS’ “Be a Cave Man”; Volume 2 (1966) features some overt anti-police teen protests by TERRY RANDALL and the “PEOPLE OF SUNSET STRIP” that’ll strike a familiar chord among contemporary punks; Volume 3 (1967) offers a mixture of trippy “flower power” cuts and nasty psychedelic punkers like the HUMAN EXPRESSION’s “Every Night.” And dig KIM FOWLEY’s philosophizing on “The Canyon People.” This stuff transcends nostalgia and serves as a timely reminder that cultural rebellion didn’t originate in 1977. Highly recommended.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 15

This one concentrates on the Dutch scene (’65-’68). Just as today there is great punk in Holland (BGK, PANDEMONIUM, etc.), there was a flourishing scene back then, too. We’re given some hot tracks by the OUTSIDERS, MOTIONS, JAY-JAYS, etc., and a few klunkers, but it’s overall a worthwhile addition for collectors.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 14 LP

No “theme” or “geographic” orientation here—just a smattering of more obscurities from the seemingly endless ’60s archives. No real losers here, and the highlight for me was the GOLDEN CUPS cover of “Hey Joe.” Just what we need, right? But this has gotta be the ’60s equivalent of a thrash version!

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 11 LP

Awright, baby, this is part one of the Texas entry into the Highs series, and I think it’s the standout so far. It’s even better than the much rarer and highly-touted Flashbacks volumes. LARRY & THE BLUE NOTES do an incredible blast, as do the BUCCANEERS, KIT & THE OUTLAWS, the BY-FIVES, and NOBODY’S CHILDREN. (Note; CHAZ & THE CLASSICS’ amazing psychedelic punker is the third song on side two). Total gold.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 10 LP

Volume 10 of the Highs series covers Wisconsin. There’s too many bluesy rhythms, pumping saxes, and DYLAN rip-offs for my tastes, but heavy fuzz guitars from the likes of the SHAG and the WANDERER’S REST, and unbelievable rave-up at the end of the MOSSMEN’s cut, and some sharp British Invasion-style singing by JACK & THE BEANSTALKS are definitely worth hearing.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 9 LP

I’ve always had a fondness for Ohio ’60s punk, and this is a wonderful collection. One can hear all kinds of wild sounds—pure punk, folk-rock, psychedelia, British beat style, instrumentals—that reveal that Ohio was one of the more interesting scenes. Some of the stars include the DEADLYS, the SQUIRES, the CHYLDS, and of course, Cleveland’s “BEATLES,” the CHOIR, one of the finest groups this country has ever produced. Please, A.I.P., we need more volumes from Ohio!

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 8 LP

It’s been a tough chore for ’60s punk fans to learn about the Southern scene, and this volume from one of the best of the reissue series helps to fill in a few of the many holes. A lot of Southern bands were pretty lame, as they concentrated on a more soulful approach with dopey horn arrangements. This release proves that there were also some tough punkers, like the RAVIN’ BLUE, the GAUNGA DINS, the ROGUES, and the HAZARDS, whose funny version of “Hey Joe” is alone worth the price of the album.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vols. 4-7 LPs

Volumes 4 and 5 are essential to any garage punk fanatic, as they give a good representation of regional scenes in the ’60s. #4 deals with Chicago and brings together a nice blend of pop/folk rock/R&B punk groups. Especially cool are the LITTLE BOY BLUES’ “The Great Train Robbery,” the REASONS WHY’s “All I Really Need Is Love,” BUZZSAW’s “Live in the Springtime,” and GROUP INC.’s “Like a Woman.” Volume 5 concerns itself with Michigan, and again the results are wild. Particularly hot are the BOSSMEN’s “I’m Ready,” the UNDERDOGS’ “Surprise, Surprise,” the LEGENDS’ “I’ll Come Again,” and, most of all, a super-rare radio ad by the RATIONALS. Volumes 6 and 7 just came out, with #6 dealing again with Michigan, and #7 covering the Pacific Northwest.