R.O.C.K. in the USA

There's also plenty of juvenile-delinquent posturing, effectively recalling the days when the chief approbatory adjectives were "tough," "swift," and "hoody." You can hear the snarl on roughly one out of three cuts. The you're-gonna-die laugh on the Syndicate of Sound's "Little Girl," for example, is more sociopathic than anything Jagger ever managed (numerous are the hapless females apostrophized as "Girl" in these songs). Those bangs prevented you from seeing their eyes; the members of the Music Machine each wore one black glove. Even so, it's hard to escape the thought that few of these boys were quite as bad as they made out. There's an undertone that suggests even the Blues Magoos had dogs named Spot and cats named Fluffy and accepted care packages from their Moms. To day, of course, they all have second mortgages of their own, all except for the few who genuinely had too much to dream and washed up on a beach in Baja. Only a handful had careers that extended beyond the period, and that includes two geniuses: Arthur Lee (one of two black musicians here; the other, John Echols, was also in Love) and Captain Beefheart (heard here on "Diddy Wah Diddy," his first record, and already he does a creditable turn as Howlin' Wolf at the Cabaret Voltaire).

But the geniuses seem slightly out of place. This is genuine corn-fed Americana, a parade of winking obscurities, like studio portraits found at the flea market. What happened to the Castaways, whose falsetto- and Farfisa-driven "Liar, Liar" is the eeriest number in the box, and whose photograph reveals them to have been classic chess-club geeks? What happened to the Hombres, whose "Let It All Hang Out" is some kind of red neck rap, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" crossed with the Statler Brothers' "Counting Flowers on the Wall" (it was, in fact, reborn as Beck's "Beercan")? Or the Nightcrawlers, whose "Little Black Egg" is to psychedelia roughly what Paul Klee was to Surrealism? Or the Daily Flash, or the Mystery Trend, or the Zakary Thaks? Today, they might have their pimples magnified 500X on a billboard on the Sunset Strip for a week, or else they might not be able to get a record contract at all. Anyway, kiddies, these are your ancestors, who suffered through innumerable sock hops at American Legion halls so you can be the little Antichrists you are today.

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