Pete's Blog

They call it Freakbeat

It means, in brief, the music of '60s "beat" groups (mostly British) as it was beginning the stylistic change to the more orchestrated, self-consciously experimental sound of the late sixties. Think early Pink Floyd, where you can still hear the echoes of American R&B as the group tries to find a new vocabulary. I had never heard the term until I checked out of the library a 4-CD set called "Nuggets, Volume 2." The first "Nuggets" was and remains a polestar for many in my generation, definitive compilation of the semi-competent post-Beatles rock groups known as "garage bands." Think the Count Five or ? and the Mysterians. The punk fans in my college dorm loved it because it suggested a precedent for their own musical fumbiings But this collection is well worth hearing, mostly because instead of compiling well-known examples of half-assed music it concentrates instead on good records that inexplicably did not become hits. So it's perfect for someone like me who likes the style but is really tired of hearing the same tunes again and again. It also satisfies the historian in me, considering that a number of these musicians went on to stardom later in their careers. You can hear the early work of Brit-pop staples like Ron Wood (in his first group the Birds), Graham Gouldman (later of 10 cc.), Geoff Lynne (in a fine group called the Idle Race, before he went on to ELO and the Travelling Wilburys), Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake, and...) along with several others. Best of all are the where-are-they-now brigade. There are some fabulous examples of sneering, anarchic, wierdo rock by guys who you know can't fit into those tight pants anymore. They're selling insurance or running housecleaning services or something. God bless them.

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