Share BIG BEAT CELLAR SCENE: THE LOST SOUNDS OF ADELAIDE 1965-70 - Various Artists (Nickoff)
Decades after Americans created the blues, the 1960s saw the best British R&B bands put their own slant on it, the Dutch add a pop-art angle, and white American teens finally pick up on it. And Down Under, something else happened. The Aussies grabbed British R&B by the neck, punched it in the jaw, slashed it with razor blades, propped it back up and bandaged it. By the time it healed, it was rawer and nastier than the homeland that dumped convicts on the continent. It was also loud, as if the bands were cranking it up to be heard beyond the isolation of Australia.

Miscreants like the Missing Links, the Purple Hearts, the Black Diamonds and the early Masters’ Apprentices were among its main proponents, but they were only the beginning. There were many memorable obscurities with but one or two singles - or, in the case of most of the bands on this vault-raid collection, no releases at all. Brought to you by the same label that did two volumes of rough-hewn early Masters’ Apprentices demos ("From Mustangs to Masters: First Year Apprentices" and "Apprenticeship in the Garage, 1966: Early Rehearsals Vol. 2"), some of which later turned up on Aztec’s expanded reissue of the first Masters album, "Big Beat Cellar Scene" offers 28 slabs of raw meat from the same town from whence the Masters came, Adelaide. Only two of these sides - Machine Gun Kelly’s Rejects’ bluesy R&B mover “I’m Going Back” and the savage Bo Diddley beat-down of the Others’ “Why Can’t She Be Mine” - are previously released (on "Ugly Things Vol. 3" in 1987), and there’s more from that abattoir.

The Syssys are anything but, turning in the nastiest fuzz punk romp this side of the Pretty Things, “Three Long Days,” and the impatient miscreants in Wee Hike wouldn’t even wait half that long, slinging out the rock ’n’ raunch of “Howadiddi” -- song, performance and everything else -- in but one 1968 session. But not everyone was crazy in Adelaide, as Animation Unlimited and the Outcasts were content with swaggering R&B on the savage original “Big Bad Woman” and a rearranged version of “Just a Little Bit,” respectively. Autumn obviously had the Who on the brain when they cut “Puzzled” in 1968, and Nozmo King’s “Do Anything” is likewise hard-wired in Mod roots -- but that’s a good thing. There’s even a first-rate melodic ballad in the Harts’ “You See Love.”

The remainder is dominated by covers -- some gritty (“I’m Not Talking” by the Silhouettes), some excellent (the London Criers’ raw remake of the Turtles’ “Outside Chance” and the Blues Syndicate’s version of “Inside Looking Out”), others more ordinary but all worth a listen, like the collection itself. With ’60s comps getting increasingly infrequent, "Big Beat Cellar Scene" proves that the spirit of "Nuggets", "Back from the Grave" and "Ugly Things" lives. (For more information, contact Nickoff here.) - Doug Sheppard



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