This feature’s been a little too Detroit Rock City-heavy. While ’tis true that the Motor City and the surrounding region was so incredibly loaded with fiercely competitive bands that collectors today gravitate toward that scene more than, say, the crummy garage-rock put out near Schenectady, Des Moines, and of course, Eau Claire…
…OK, OK, y’all’s convinced me to keep the Lo-Fi spotlight on Detroit. Here’s the Soul Benders’ cover of “Seven and Seven Is.”
What in the bleeping name of Pete Best are we doing with this cut, you may ask. Here’s the original “Seven,” below, done by Love, which might not be the most familiar name in rock. In fact it was the only top 40 hit for the band, a record left to the bonepile of obscurity for musicologists to rhapsodize about and lord their superior knowledge over people who would give them credibility.
In the world of cool no-hit-wonder garage bands, The Soul Benders are actually pretty cool, because they sound great, but more importantly, they were on Fenton Records of Sparta, Michigan. The big thing about garage and psychedelic music listening/fandom/collecting is that a lot of these bands sucked. They didn’t make it anywhere for good reason.
Today, there’s so little written about a lot of these groups that it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff without actually buying a disc, which is a huge disappointment when one pays $35 for an import CD that sucks. So we garage mavens tend to latch on to labels who had talent scouts with good ears, and use them as a filter. We all do: Fans, bloggers, reissue-label A&R guys. This approach usually works out.
Fenton, somehow, inked all the decent bands in south-central Michigan outside of Detroit. Turns out the grounds were rich in music as the farmland that grew the corn upon which these rock non-legends were raised. Harmonies tight, backbeats pounding, guitars sharp, players in time with each other. Fenton’s acts were not national stars, but most of the records featured on Scream Loud: The Fenton Story were more polished–and creative–than half the bands that were on the chart back then, and 19/20ths of today’s top groups. The recordings are sharp, the production good.
The only other thing that garage-rock freaks can demand in a compilation is well-designed and -written liner notes printed on something other than toilet paper, attributes this 2-CD anthology has–and a lot of other compilations don’t.