Alternative music reviews

November 13, 2005

WarfRat Tales – Unabridged by Various Artists

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Uncovering the early eighties LA garage rock scene of 1983, this compilation re-issue brings together several long-forgotten bands on one handy compact disc. Sprawling over 28 tracks, ‘WarfRat Tales’ is a long and sometimes exhausting overview of close-knit scene. Amongst the expected ordinary recordings there are many gems to savor. The Rain Parade delivers a very sixties sounding pop song in ‘I Look Around’, its Eastern garage vibe brings to mind The Beatles during their Indian experimentation phase – no bad comparison! There’s so much music here, many artists could get ignored – so let’s dive in at random and choose any song. Right – track 21 – Artist Name: To Damascus, Track Title: ‘And Leave And Leave Me’, Opinion: A bit of a tuneless and bland song all told – definitely not a highlight, the female vocalist lacking any musical talent. Let’s move on and pick another track at total random – track 9 – oh, it’s To Damascus again, that’s a coincidence. This time with the song ‘Night Surfing’, an instrumental which is a vast improvement, mainly due to the fact the female vocalist doesn’t sing and is a proficient jaunty surf rockabilly.

Changing tactic, I shall choose a song based on how much I like the band name. Let’s see….. I like the band name Hector & The Clockwatchers so let’s give them a chance. A very old-fashioned (even for 1983) and highly paced song, I can’t even describe what type of genre the song ‘Mishap At Greebsley’s’ falls into, above average at best. Moving onto the frankly creepy ‘Stop The Clock’ by Earwigs, this track is enjoyable fun with a waltzing beat and monotone vocals and …. I can’t review all the artists here so shall make a general synopsis of this good value-for-money compilation. Playing these songs brings back the times I was part of a Los Angeles scene spurning on kids to play in their parents garages tucked away in the suburbs, some acts were hit, some were miss. Actually, I lied – since I was only five year’s old living in not-so-glamorous West London when these songs were originally recorded. But this disc makes you feel like you were part of a small and self-sufficient scene, such is the enthusiasm and youthful vigor in this simplistic garage rock songs. I suppose the re-issue achieves its main objective in re-enlightening a generation too young to have experience the scene first time round.

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Review by Nick Collings

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