CD Reviews for 09/09/05 – Fleshtones, Garage Bear Vols. 4 & 5, Lost Legends of Surf Guitar, Jerry…

Currently based out of Brooklyn, The Fleshtones have been delivering a shindig-styled brand of rock and roll and R&B for going on 25 years now. The band hasn’t touched down in Rhode Island in all too long a time, however, the dry spell comes to an end on Friday evening with an appearance Friday at the Area Venue in Newport. The band comes to the Ocean State touting a newly released album called Beachhead. It is in the Compact Capsules spotlight this week. Staying in the retro mode, we also take a look at some garage and surf reissue collections.

The Fleshtones
Yep Roc YEP-2095

Much like their contemporaries The Ramones, the origins of garage rockers The Fleshtones can also be traced to the basement of a flat in Queens. The year was 1976 and it all came about rather accidentally. As the story goes, a couple of roommates move into a new pad and discover some instruments left by the previous tenants. The next thing you know, jamming ensues to the point that the two become locally famous for their house parties which lean heavily in a go-go direction when it comes to material and fueled in large part by a blue beverage known as the Blue Whale. Well, as typically happens, the next thing you know the duo is a trio thanks to the addition of a high voltage harp player named Peter Zaremba who also has a hunger for the cool and trashy garage sounds of the 1960s, not to mention British pop and deep and funky soul music. Building a reputation by making a racket on the local club scene, they christen themselves The Fleshtones, add a drummer (Bill Milhizer), sign with then alternative kingpin I.R.S. Records and release a five-song EP called Up Front in 1980 which brings together odds and ends including a few previously issued singles the band had begun releasing in 1978. Mainstream success beckons thanks to the 1981 release of the full-length album Roman Gods followed by arguably the crowning moment for the band, the 1983 LP Hexbreaker. Now some 25 years and 16 albums later, as the group’s latest release called Beachhead clearly attests The Fleshtones are still going strong. A rather brief affair what with clocking in at just under 30 minutes in length, Beachhead is chock full of the gritty and sweaty shindig-a-go-go spirit that has been the cornerstone of the band’s sound since those defining days back in Queens. The album has a North versus South thing going for it what with half of the record produced by Southern Culture On the Skids’ front man Rick Miller at his Kudzu Ranch studio in North Carolina while the other half found the band laying down tracks at Ghetto Recorders in the Motor City under the watchful eye of Jim Diamond of Dirtbombs fame. With three of its four original members still on board – Zaremba on vocals, harmonica and organ, Keith Streng on guitar & vocals and Milhizer on drums and vocals – it could be 1969 as far as the sounds of Beachhead are concerned. That is, 11 rompin’ and stompin’ tracks primed and ready to ignite the partyin’ spirit in even the meekest and mildest types out there. (Yep Roc Records, P.O. Box 4821, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27515, or

The Fleshtones celebrate the release of Beachhead at The Area Venue in Newport on Friday evening, September 9. The Area Venue is located at 3 River Lane in Newport. Call (401) 849-2315.

Various Artists
Garage Rock Beat ’66 Volume 4: I’m In Need!
Sundazed SC-11150

Various Artists
Garage Rock Beat ’66 Volume 5: Readin’ Your Will!
Sundazed SC-11151

They came places far and wide, from Corpus Christi to Dallas to Salt Lake City to San Bernardino to Milwaukee to even Pulaski, Wisconsin and Ontonagon, Michigan typically armed with little more than a couple of guitar players, a bass player, and a drummer. The time frame was the early to mid 1960s and raw, three-chord rock and roll be it from a band from some big city suburb or a two bit town was thriving. It has since been dubbed garage music as much of it literally did originate in garages. Sundazed Music continues its excellent Garage Beat ’66 various artists compilation series with the fourth and fifth installments titled I’m In Need! and Readin’ Your Will!, respectively. Featuring 20 tracks apiece all remastered from the original source tapes, it is nuggets galore from some of the shakers and movers of the era, some known but most no more than single 45 RPM wonders revered only by connoisseurs of the movement. Leading the charge on these two new volumes are such cornerstone bands as Zakary Thaks and its fuzz-drenched masterpiece “Face To Face”, the Gonn, and the Haunted to go with obscure, but equally worthwhile brilliance from groups like the Rahgoos, the Basement Wall and the Nuchez. Featuring highly informative liner notes from some of the top experts of the genre, these latest entire in Sundazed Records’ Garage Beat ’66 series are darn near essential listening. (Sundazed Music, P.O. Box 85, Coxsackie, NY 12051, or

Various Artists
Lost Legends of Surf Guitar: Shockwave!
Sundazed SC-11143

Jerry Cole & His Spacemen
Outer Limits
Sundazed SC-6220

Sure it’s already September and the kids are back in school, but that doesn’t mean beach days are over and done with. On the contrary, with the water still plenty warm from the sweltering summer we had around here and hurricanes stirring up plenty of big waves as far as the surf goes, September is prime time for taking advantage of summer’s last gasp. And what better way to make tracks to your favorite oceanside spot than to hop in your trusty auto and pop a copy of Shockwave! into the CD player to set the mood just right. The latest entry in the terrific Lost Legends of Surf Guitar series from Sundazed Music, this latest installment is the fourth in the series and presents another 20 splashy, reverb-drenched instrumentals from some of the greats of the surf and hot rod set. Included are vital cuts from bands such as Zorba & the Greeks, The Teen’s Men, The Tornadoes, The Stagemen, Johnny & the Shy Guys, The Citations, The Avengers VI, The Truents, The Pastels, and The Teemates. Like previous volumes in the series, each track is taken from the original master resulting in splendid sound quality despite the circa mid-1960s vintage. The CD booklet accompanying the collection is the standard full color fold-out loaded with plenty of insightful info on the bands, interviews with a who’s who of the surf music scene, and lots of rare photos and memorabilia. In other words, Shockwave! is must have goods for any fan of surf music.
In addition to backing the likes of Frank and Nancy Sinatra, The Byrds, Ray Charles, Johnny Rivers and Paul Revere & the Raiders in the studio, not to mention Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley on the concert side of things, primo guitar session man Jerry Cole also found time to cook up his own band that he dubbed the Spacemen. Cole signed to Capitol Records as a solo artist in 1963 with the album Outer Limits his first for the label. Considered a classic artifact of the surf sound, the album is now available for the first time on compact disc. Featuring the original 11 tracks as taken from the stereo master tapes, we hear Cole work his stringbending magic on such classics as “Tequila”, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”, “Wipeout”, and “Pipeline”, as well as original numbers packing just as much reverb punch.