Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rock Sect's In - Downliners Sect

The Rock Sect's In
Downliners Sect
Charly CR 30140
Back in the dark ages before CDs or MP3s or the internet even, you had to really work to get the music you wanted sometimes.  American record companies were pretty ruthless about cutting stuff that wasn't selling out of their catalogs, even recordings we now regard as classics.  Good luck finding the Velvet Underground albums on Verve or the second MC5 album.  Fortunately their European distributors weren't so crass, you could find some of this stuff in the import bin.  The import bin, if you were lucky enough to have a record store that had one, was where you could find the treasures that could only otherwise be found in a used record store.  I always went to the import bin first in any new record store, I judged the store by the amount of imports they carried.  I still have a warm spot for that ubiquitous "Imported by Jem" sticker on the shrinkwrap of many of the imports.  I have an even warmer spot for the Charly records label, the pride of English re-issues and any decent record store kept its import bin well-stocked with Charly products.  If I saw the Charly label, I knew the record had to be good, they had impeccable rock and roll taste.  This is a reissue of the original album on Columbia (E.M.I.) Records in the U. K..  These guys have a big following among collectors for some reason that I don't really get.  I think they are not far removed from a garage band, the British equivalent of the Shadows of Knight, except that the latter is a better group.  They mostly did straight forward covers and their few originals are uninspired to say the least.  They did have pretty good taste, mostly favoring a r&b style with occasional forays into country.  The lack of an inventive approach to the music and the pedestrian musicianship really limited this band.  This record might have sounded okay in 1964, but when you consider where their peers were in 1966, the Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, Pretty Things, this record sounds like a dinosaur.  If I wanted to hear something like this, I'd put on a Jimmy Reed or John Lee Hooker record, at least I'd get better singing.  My favorite song on here is the early Lou Reed/John Cale song "Why Don't You Smile Now" which leads off side 2.  It is worth checking out this album for that alone.  I also like their cover of "Fortune Teller," the Chuck Berry version of "Don't Lie to Me" [sic] and "Brand New Cadillac."  It is a generally enjoyable record, it rocks pretty hard most of the time and the boys play with enthusiasm, it is just seems kind of useless to me.  Recommended for people who think the Yardbirds were better with Eric Clapton instead of Jeff Beck.

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