The common thread with this week’s reviews is the comeback trail, namely the return of former original lead singer of the Shangri-Las Mary Weiss and Cleveland one hit garage wonder The Alarm Clocks. Actually, there’s a second common thread in that each is signed and records for Brooklyn-based Norton Records where as they say, “The loud sound abounds.” It’s been 40 years since either of these acts have been heard from, but you sure as hell can’t tell from their new releases. Let’s get to it.
Norton Records CED-323
Heck, it’s only April but I’m ready to nominate Dangerous Game from original lead singer of the Shangri-Las Mary Weiss as comeback album, not to mention story, of the year. The voice behind such Shangs classics as “Leader of the Pack” and “Remember (Walking In the Sand)”, its been nearly four decades since the 59-year-old Weiss last recordings. Credit kibbutzing with Norton Records’ head honchos Billy Miller and Miriam Linna at a party in New York City a couple of years ago with planting the seed that eventually grew to become Dangerous Game. Enter Greg Cartwright of Reigning Sound garage-soul band fame who was tapped by Miller to join him in co-producing the record, not to mention writing the songs (nine of the 14 selections are Cartwright originals) and using the latest incarnation of his Reigning Sound, to back Weiss in the studio. Melding Brill Building pop appeal and Spector-esque sonics with an edginess courtesy of garage-soul backing band the Reigning Sound, Weiss’s voice has aged some but has kept its tunefulness possessing as much lipstick sensibility as it does attitude. Highly recommended. (Norton Records, Box 646 Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276 or check them out on the web at www.nortonrecords.com.)
The Alarm Clocks
The Time Has Come
Norton Records CED-321
Once upon a time in a land far away, make that Cleveland, there was a band called The Alarm Clocks. Like all good American garage bands of the mid 1960s, they had a single nugget to show for their feel-your-oats, teenage years. The song was a savage slice of three-chord rock and roll abandon called “No Reason to Complain”. That was 1966 and it went on to become a garage rock classic. Move ahead 40 years to March of 2006 and the Beachland Ballroom – now there’s a cool name for a club – in where else, but Cleveland. On stage that evening was The Alarm Clocks reunited for two sold-out nights. It was enough to get the juices flowing, so much so that later in the year The Alarm Clocks entered the digital age with the release of The Time Has Come. Now bands reuniting after so long a period can be a dangerous proposition. I can remember checking out a reunion show in Austin, Texas several summers back by legendary 1960s Corpus Christi garage greats Zakary Thaks. Whereas they kicked ass on the yesteryear nuggets that began their set, when they went to new material it cleared out the joint. Such is not the case with the comeback album of brand new stuff from The Alarm Clocks. Do they rock? You bet your ass they do sounding every bit as vintage garage and savage in sound as they did in the early days. A listen to standout tracks like the very cool “Baby” and the meat and potatoes rocker “Feelin’ Fine” and the proof is in the pudding. So is The Time Has Come worthy of your hard earned cash? You bet your ass it is. Still savage after all these years.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)<...