A fourth volume I hear you say? No, this latest round in Big Beat's well-received Northwest Battle Of The Bands series is not a desperate barrel-scrape but rather, solidly in the rocking tradition of our previous volumes. In fact, this latest instalment is quite possibly the best yet, with another cavalcade of stone classics, classic obscurities, not to mention the customary healthy dose of way-cool unissued material, running the gamut from folk-rock to thumping R&B, punk-psych to pure garage - all with that unmistakable Pacific Northwest power, and imbued with the remarkable consistency that only goes to prove, once again, that Jerry Dennon's Jerden Records catalogue was one of the best stocked of the era.
Jerden's voluminous Seattle tape vaults once again provide 30 tracks of top-notch Northwest stomping n'shouting from 1965-67. The lead cut alone, I Think I Love You by Woody Carr & The Entertainers is a rarely-heard classic of '66-era grunge, and its followed in swift succession by acknowledged killers from the likes of the Express, Ceptors and notably Thee Unusuals, whose remarkable I'm Walkin' Babe is perhaps the ultimate example of a singer about to burst a blood vessel. Familiar faces from previous volumes such as the Sonics, Raymarks, Bumps, Heirs and Goodtimes make welcome return appearances with rare material, and there is some blistering punk-psych on exhibition from the New Yorkers, Brave New World and Emergency Exit. We've got north of the border action from Vancouver, BC's Stags, and a healthy smattering of ear-catching folk-rock from the Bandits, Dynastys and Merrilee & The Turnabouts, the latter featured on an early demo recorded some years before their hit Angel Of The Morning. As always, the selections are presented in the best ever fidelity from yer actual master tapes, and sensitively mastered for maximum enjoyment at speaker-toppling volume.
As a special bonus, the Pacific Northwest's premier photographic chronicler of that era, Jini Dellaccio, made her incredible files available to us for the package. Jini's classy, iconographic portraits of the Sonics, Wailers and so many other vintage Northwest bands - including several striking images within Volume Four's booklet - constitute a body of work unsurpassed in its simple, yet artful imagery. Plus we've got heaps of memorabilia, and the usual fax n' figures on all the participating contenders. So let battle commence, and need we remind you - PLAY LOUD!
By Alec Palao