This New York quartet were unfortunately in the wrong place (even their label, Capitol, inexplicably marketed them as an Australian act) at the wrong time (too late for the garage rock boom of the mid-60s, too early for the city?s burgeoning punk scene), but their lone album can be enjoyed as a bridge between the garage/psych and punk eras, with intriguing elements of both present in its snarling vocals, fuzzy guitars, sitars, and baroque pop. These thirteen original tracks from the pens of lead screamer Jose Mala and rhythm guitarist Joey Guido (how?s that for a New York rock and roll name!) are bookended by both sides of their 1968 single, ?Don?t You Know What I Mean?? and it?s slightly psychedelic echoey flip, ?Scattered Children?s Toys,? whose melody seems more than coincidentally influenced by Love?s ?You Set The Scene.? The A-side features Mala?s whining, imploring vocals, which land just this side of Small Faces/Humble Pie frontman, Steve Marriott, while lead guitarist Louis Caine rips off one finger-bleeding solo after another in the background. Toss in some marraccas and Joe Alexander?s galloping drums and we?re off to a promising start. Mala sings the double entendre ?Look At The Way She Comes? in a Dylanesque snarl that melds equal parts of John Sebastian and Felix Cavaliere with a drawl that would be all too familiar once David Johanson and his New York Dolls burst onto the scene three years later.
The quality of some of the recordings is suspect, with ?Poor Discarded Baby? particularly inept, sounding (perhaps) unintentionally fuzzy, muffled, and distorted ? or, maybe they just cranked all the knobs up to 15!? ?Nothing?s Changed? cuts back on the aggression for a contemplative ballad with some bluesy strokes from Caine, and ?She?s A Lady? (not the Tom Jones song!) might have made a better choice for single with its pinpoint, Stonesy punch with hints of ?Have You Seen You Mother, Baby? dancing around in the shadows of its chorus. ?Colours [sic] Of Our Rainbow,? despite its strangely British spelling, is as suitably psychedelic as the title suggests, and showcases the band?s bluesier, hard rock side. Unfortunately, too much of the album is saddled with horribly muddled production from co-managers Bob Wyld and Art Polhemus (the same duo behind the Blues Magoos) which render several tracks, including this one, sounding like they were recorded under water.
Alexander?s manic, Keith Moon-ish drumming highlights the punky ?Poppa Duke Tyler,? which again features Caine?s eardrum bursting solos. ?Strange Feelings? again presages the Dolls? catchy, bubblegum glitter and might have fared well as a single, although the sitar flourish at the end seems more gimmicky than functional. ?Elizabeth? captures the same baroque tone as the Stones? ?Lady Jane,? although you can hear Mala struggling to reveal his tender side. ?You Say? may be my favorite track on the album, with Mala?s imploring, emotional vocals contributing to its endearing charm. Listen closely and see if you agree that this would have been a perfect cover for Stiv Bator?s post-Dead Boys pop career. This one has ?Bomp!? written all over it!
Ultimately, this is a classic example of an album that doesn?t quite live up to the sum of its parts, but if you?re a fan of the Dolls, Stones or contemporary AM radio staples like the Rascals or Turtles, or even the rougher edges of The Monkees, the good parts are very good indeed. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (27 December, 2006)