Friday, September 28, 2012

The Chocolate Watchband - Melts In Your Brain...Not On Your Wrist / The Complete Recordings (1965-67 us, fascinating garage psych, 2005 Big Beat two disc set)

Great rock'n'roll rarely translates properly to disc. The history of the genre is littered with literally thousands of acts that were blinding and transcendent on the bandstand, yet limp, ineffectual or misguided in the studio. And the opposite is just as true, though the art of the recording medium allows for a control and an innovation that usually isn't possible in a live context. When the two disciplines are matched, there is the potential for true greatness; yet for those involved, the realization of such may come only after years of frustrated disillusion with the initial outcome. Such is the case with the Chocolate Watchband. 

The recorded legacy of this supreme psychedelic punk combo paints a picture quite removed from the truth, yet as our definitive new anthology MELTS IN YOUR BRAIN . . . NOT ON YOUR WRIST demonstrates, it nevertheless holds up as one of the finest catalogues of the 1960s, balanced between the Watchband's own Anglophile blueswailing, and a preternatural aura, the result of studio trickery imposed without the bands knowledge or consent. The juxtaposition acts as a paradigm of how the British Invasion-inspired punk fury acquired an experimental veneer, and led to something unique. By unwittingly having their record career mapped out for them by producer Ed Cobb, the Watchband paradoxically wrote themselves into the annals of cultdom; yet it is the rock'n'roll heartbeat of this once-in-a-lifetime band that is their true heirloom.

As well as handily collecting their complete recorded works 1965-69 in one nicely remastered package, Melts In Your Brain . . . Not On Your Wrist" seeks to finally clarify the peculiar and fascinating history of this consummate group. The tracklisting on this definitive 2 CD set clearly delineates between the tracks that truly feature the definitive Watchband ie the grinding 1966 model led by frontman par excellence David Aguilar - and everything else attributed to the Chocolate Watchband name, whether it be recordings by the earlier and later incarnations of the combo, or those trippy cuts on their three long-players either adulterated or recorded by someone else entirely. 

The many aficionados that have come to love the Watchband's albums over the years are no doubt blissfully unaware of the machinations behind the substitutions and studio fakery on their records, and no doubt cherish the non-Watchband sides on those records just as much. To which end, their studio adventures, as well as the illustrious life and times of the Watchband are examined in great detail in the copiously illustrated booklet, with commentary from all the bands members, and a rare interview with the late Ed Cobb.
by Alec Palao
Disc 1
1.Let's Talk About The Girls (New Aguilar Vocal) - 3:34
2.Sweet Young Thing - 2:57
3.Baby Blue - 3:54
4.Blue's Theme by The Hogs - 2:48
5.Loose Lip Sync Ship by The Hogs - 3:19
6.Don't Need Your Lovin' - 2:38
7.Sitting There Standing - 2:21
8.Misty Lane - 3:22
9.She Weaves A Tender Trap - 2:39
10.Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love In) - 2:25
11.No Way Out - 2:22
12.In The Midnight Hour (Original Aguilar Vocal) - 3:30
13.Come On - 1:49
14.Gone And Passes By - 3:14
15.I'm Not Like Everybody Else - 3:43
16.I Ain't No Miracle Worker - 2:50
17.Milk Cow Blues - 2:57
18.Medication (New Aguilar Vocal) - 3:06
19.'Til The End Of The Day (New Aguilar Vocal) - 2:39
20.Psychedelic Trip (Backing Track) - 1:58

Disc 2
1.Let's Talk About Girls (Don Bennett Vocal) - 2:46
2.In The Midnight Hour (Don Bennett Vocal) - 4:27
3.Hot Dusty Roads (Don Bennett Vocal) - 2:26
4.Gossamer Wings - 3:26
5.Baby Blue (LP Mix) - 3:13
6.Medication (Don Bennett Vocal) - 2:07
7.Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying - 2:51
8.Since You Broke My Heart - 2:22
9.Uncle Morris - 3:11
10.How Ya Been - 3:12
11.Devil's Motorcycle - 3:02
12.I Don't Need A Doctor - 4:03
13.Flowers - 2:47
14.Fireface - 2:51
15.And She's Lonely - 4:18
16.Dark Side Of The Mushroom - 2:36
17.Expo 2000 - 2:41
18.Voyage Of The Trieste by The Yo-Yoz - 3:39
19.In The Past by The Yo-Yoz - 3:08
20.The Inner Mystique by The Yo-Yoz - 5:36
21.The Uncharted Sea (Aka Voyage Of The Trieste) by The Yo-Yoz - 3:25
22.Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go (Backing Track) by Inmates - 2:38
23.Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go (Don Bennett Vocal) by Inmates - 2:17

The Chocolate Watch Band
*Dave Aguilar - Vocals
*Gary Andrijasevich - Drums
*Bill Flores - Bass
*Mark Loomis - Guitar
*Sean Tolby - Guitar
*Rich Young - Bass
*Pete Curry - Drums
*Jo Kemling - Vox Organ
*Don Bennett - Vocals

More Chocolate...
1967  No Way Out (Sundazed expanded issue)
1968  The Inner Mystique (Sundazed expanded issue)
1969  One Step Beyond (Sundazed expanded issue)

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The Standells - Dirty Water (1966 us, groovy raw garage, Sundazed bonus tracks edition)

The Standells made number 11 in 1966 with "Dirty Water," an archetypal garage rock hit with its Stones-ish riff, lecherous vocal, and combination of raunchy guitar and organ. While they never again reached the Top 40, they cut a number of strong, similar tunes in the 1966-1967 era that have belatedly been recognized as '60s punk classics. "Garage rock" may not have been a really accurate term for them in the first place, as the production on their best material was full and polished, with some imaginative touches of period psychedelia and pop.

The Los Angeles band was actually hardly typical of the young suburban outfits across America who took their raw garage sound onto obscure singles recorded in small studios. They'd been playing L.A. clubs since the early '60s, with a repertoire that mostly consisted of covers of pre-Beatles rock hits. Drummer (and eventual lead singer) Dick Dodd had been a Mouseketeer on television, organist Larry Tamblyn was the brother of noted film actor Russ Tamblyn, and Tony Valentino was a recent immigrant from Italy. Gary Leeds (later to join the Walker Brothers) was an early member (though he was replaced by Dodd).

The Standells' pre-"Dirty Water" history is a little vague and confusing; they recorded some ordinary albums and singles for Liberty, MGM, and Vee Jay, appeared in the movie Get Yourself a College Girl, and did a lot of television work (most notably a well-remembered guest appearance on The Munsters, where they did a woeful version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand"). There were flashes of gritty inspiration on early cuts like "Big Boss Man" and "Someday You'll Cry," but the group didn't really hit their stride until teaming up with producer Ed Cobb, formerly of the clean-cut vocal group the Four Preps. It was Cobb who wrote "Dirty Water," which marked quite a change of direction from their previous clean-cut image. In fact, the group didn't even like the song, which took about six months to break into a hit.

Considerably toughening their image, the group churned out four albums in 1966 and 1967, as well as appearing in (and contributing the theme song to) the psychedelic exploitation movie Riot on Sunset Strip. Cobb, in addition to writing "Dirty Water," also penned their other most enduring singles, including "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White," "Why Pick on Me," and "Try It" (the last of which was widely banned for its suggestive delivery). 

The group did write some decent material of their own, such as the tense "Riot on Sunset Strip" and the psychedelic "All Fall Down," which bears an interesting similarity to some of Pink Floyd's early work. Their albums were quite inconsistent -- in fact, one of them, consisting of covers of big, mid-'60s hits, was altogether dispensable -- which makes it advisable for all but the truly committed to look for greatest-hits compilations that selectively weed out the best stuff.
by Richie Unterberger
1. Medication (Ben DiTosti, M.Allton) - 2:42
2. Little Sally Tease (Jim Valley) - 2:57
3. There's a Storm Coming (Ed Cobb) - 3:18
4. 19th Nervous Breakdown (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 3:54
5. Dirty Water (Ed Cobb) - 2:46
6. Pride and Devotion (Larry Tamblyn) - 2:13
7. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 2:12
8. Why Did You Hurt Me? (Dick Dodd, Tony Valentino) - 2:28
9. Rari (Ed Cobb) - 5:32
10.Batman (Neal Hefti) - 3:04
11.It's All in Your Mind (J.Cobb) - 2:38
12.Love Me (Dick Dodd, Tony Valentino) - 2:45
13.Medication (Ben DiTosti) - 2:43
14.Poor Man's Prison (Keith Colley, Joe Henderson) - 2:23
15.Take a Ride (Ed Cobb) - 2:08

The Standells
*Dick Dodd - Drums, Vocals
*Gary Lane - Bass, Vocals
*Larry Tamblyn - Organ, Vocals
*Tony Valentino - Guitar, Vocals

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