(Guest Review by Gentleman John Battles) Since last issue, the exciting new reissue label, Alona's Dream (which re-released the cool Garage/Frat Rocker by John Belushi's first band, The Ravens), has two rarities awaiting your perusal.
The short-lived ('67-'69) Chicago Garage/Psych act Griffith Harter Union kicks things off with a direct reissue of their only single. Both sides, "A House in The Country” and "Progress” are "Emotions"-era Pretty Things covers, though the wah-wah attack (which should please PT fans who still aren’t sold on the horns that dominated the album) should bring to mind their freakin' peak "Defecting Grey.” Both songs hold up today, but horns have their place, and this wasn’t it. Griffith Harter Union let loose with not only a crunchin' wah-wah sound, but cool post-surf twang, screamin' leads, and again, NO HORNS, even when many of Chicago's finest were becoming horn band. There’s just razor sharp vocal and instrumental attacks and plenty of teen swagger, when such things were quickly being rendered obsolete.
The Griffith Harter Union is best known, today, for having played at the first Chicago "Human Be-In” in 196, with The Dirty Wurds and others. They often shared bills with Roctoberfriend George Hansen's band, The Looking Glass (not the "Brandy” hitmakers of the same name) as both bands, and the Wurds, to name just a few, rode out the classic Teen Club era. Readers of Ugly Things, Galactic Zoo Dossier, and, of course, Roctober, should find much to dig.
The Escavels, alandlocked Surf band (unless you want to count Lake Michigan) came up with two tuff, instantly hummable Surf/Rock numbers (no instrumentals, here) that seem every bit as indebted to Buddy Holly as Dick Dale. They shared members with The Ravens, and the Dunwich Records faves, Things To Come. "You Should Know'' sounds, at times, like early Cryan' Shames, who had yet to break. "Lonely Sea” is a subtle death disc, mournful yet catchy, like "Jezebel” or some of Roy Orbison's more somber sides. It's not flipped out, like The Ravens, but it shows another, more enjoyable, side to the teen sound of Chicago in the mid-60s. Get an earful, you may be pleasantly surprised. And, if you hurry, limited clear blue vinyl.