Monday, January 23, 2006

PA Rocks the 60s! Sounds From the Woods Documents the Scene!

Sounds From the Woods is a fascinating look at the 100s of bands that Pennsylvania spawned in the wake of the British Invasion. Anyone who is a serious collector of this period knows that both the quantity and quality of records from PA during the 60s was very high. Once all but unkown, records by the Centurys, Shaynes,Magic Mushrooms, Flowerz, Loose Enz, Swamp Rats, Ognir and the Nite People, the Mystic Five et al are now heavily comped and highly sought after by collectors worldwide. Mike Kuzmin, himself a fan and collector of this era, has made a valiant attempt at the mammoth undertaking of compiling a discography of the mid 60s PA bands, focusing mainly on releases by small labels such as Kingston, Barclay, DB, Process and so on, while still including a surprising amount of major label releases and charted bands as well. The end result is a fine book that crams a ton of useful info with some classic photos and concert ads into its 165 pages. Check out the cool pic of Ognir and the Nite People whose great I Found a New Love 45 is just one of many stellar PA 45s found in this book. Also check out the cool pic of the Darts in capes which shows they must have spent more on than outfits than they did for their recording! However, all the Process 45s I ever heard must have had the same budget and engineer cause they all sound like one big racket!

For a collector or simply a fan of 60s music, this book is a treasure trove of info packed with some amusing anecdotes and a ton of rare photos. Due to the size of the undertaking, the scope of the book is limited to rock and roll mainly, with the occasional soul and pop release mixed in. The book sticks mostly to the years specified though again there is an occasional stray. For those completists out there, we still await the PA Rockabilly, PA Country, PA 70s Rock and the Soul book too; however, Kuzmin was wise to set some parameters for his book due to the epic nature of his work. In this 2nd edition, Kuzmin has corrected and clarified previous entries as well as adding new ones. The documentation of this era's music is a momentous task, especially considering the numerous one-off releases on tiny labels. The book is clearly a labor of love, made by a collector for collectors. The numerous label pics and the grainy photos from old newspapers give the book the feel of the classic zines like Hoosier Hysteria and Rebel Teen and like his predecessors the book is tribute to both the bands and the collectors who rescued the music from undeserved obscurity. The book is meticulously cross referenced too, inviting one to check other listings as the inevitable sharing of members and changing names(or in some cases having the bands name changed by others)occured and it also presents a handy index that lists the songs that have been reissued on compilations. Of course, this book asks more questions than it answers and the world still awaits definitive discographies of lables like Process, Kingston, Barclay, Murechord, Bridge Society et al. Still the digging Kuzmin has done with this book goes quite far in listing most of the known garage, rock, pop and psych 45s from PA and that in itself is a commendable feat!

Naturally, having collected this stuff for years, I feel this is a valuable and a worthy undertaking. Kuzmin's DIY approach is to be commended though publishers take note: It sure would be nice to have a cloth bound edition with pages of glossy photos! Mike's tireless obsession has resulted in a spiral bound book thats mostly complete, though he readily acknowledges some bands that remain of unknown origin but sure look like PA releases. There are certainly a few minor omissions and maybe even more bands yet to be unearthed like Chester's Adam and The Evils, unheralded and unknown, who recorded some awesome acetates. It was great to find out the Sites'n'Sounds brooding punk 45 "The Nite Is So Dark" was from York(!) and seeing pics of Ognir and the Nite People, the Darts and the Scott Bedford 4 and many others is worth the price alone. The occasional biographical note provides some more slivers of info into these elusive recordings. One reprinted poster features a bill with Morgantown, WV's Mind Garage, the Marshmellow Steamshovel, and Rebecca and the Sunnybrook Farmers! Must have been one helluva show! The small press run of this is bound to sell out quick so it would be wise to pick this up before it disappears like so many of the records contained within.
Sounds From the Woods is an excellent read for either the hardcore collector or a fan of 60s garage bands who wants to learn more about bands from the Keystone State. Drop us a line if youd like to acquire a copy for your very own!


At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rick! I'm the lead singer and songwriter from The Young Lords - Altoona comp: I'll Sing You A Song. Do you know where I can get a copy?

Rick Grove

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous said...

I would also like to know where I canget copy. I was the lead guitarist with Ognir and the Nite People
Skip Nehring

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Trashman said...

Rick - any chance in getting a copy of the PA Rock Bands? I know it has been awhile since you first posted it and I can get in touch with Mike Kuzmin. Thanks for any help - Mike W.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger steveo said...

my brother was the lead guitar for the marshmello steamshovel 68-69.
any mp3's out there?
steve-guitar-the valrays 65-67.
& the v.i.p.s. penn hills-67


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