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The Real European Union

European garage bands. Do they even have garages in Europe? And more importantly, do and qualify as garage? Not in my neck of the woods, but I was raised by wolves in the then isolated, dank and rain-soaked region of the Pacific Northwest where garage was rule rather than exception. We're talking The Wailers, The Sonics, Mr. Lucky & The Gamblers and a whole host of other popular headliners at teen clubs and armories on the Oregon/Washington/Idaho circuit--- not exactly top of the line, but home to the dancing Pirates, Warriors and Bulldogs who sometimes needed to shake off the home team loss. The sound was loud and more than likely muddled, the venues at times housing military vehicles behind or to the sides of the stage. Think M*A*S*H with loud music and a concession stand.

When Europeans attach the term 'garage' to various band styles, my ears perk up. Sonics? Wailers? These guys are not even close. But Seeds, ? & and the Mysterians, The Count Five and Blues Magoos? Oh, yeah. Toss in a little surf/hot rod and white bread R&B and I get it. Power pop. What you call it is just a matter of semantics anyway. It's what's in the grooves that counts.

Kids in the States are now listing French Pop among their favorite listening genres and I shall assume that The Dadds qualify with what they give us on Idees Choc & Propos Chic, but maybe not. Dipped in a vat of Seeds, ? and the Mysterians and many other farfisa and organ-fronted bands, they are drizzled over helpings of late '60s pop--- not with the normal Hollywood slick production but the vibrant and in your face sound. Driving, intense and yet wimpy (it has to be the organ), they bounce from track to track like a runaway train--- narrow gauge, not standard (for model trains, that would be HO)--- putting their thumbprint on each one and pressing, pressing. Even when they lighten up a bit, the focus is still there and you begin to wonder if they are having fun or are just driven. There is a difference among cultures, musically, or we wouldn't have French Pop and Kraut Rock as categories and maybe the French are a bit more intense than those of us in the States but my Gawd, it should be fun! Well, maybe it is. All but a couple of the songs are in French and all the French I know is what Charles Boyer put on the silver screen, so what do I know? I know that the song Sex a pile might not even be what I imagine, the singer repeating at the end of most lines, “Sex appeal, Sex appeal...” and I'm probably not even close. Sounding alike is not being alike and yet my mind cannot let go... even though the bio says their lyrics are seen as funny and literary how can I tell?

All that aside, The Dadds hit a chord with their lineup of guitar, bass, keyboards (mostly organ) and drums, the singer falling somewhere between Sky Saxon and Moulty of The Barbarians, the French Connection. When you pick this up, set yourself because you will be deluged with songs titled L'Amour avec Fenelon and Comme quoi parfois la demographie, and I guarantee you, it ain't Frere Jacques.

A stone's throw away reside Italy's The Jumpin' Quails and they're a different kettle of fish, though they dip fingers in a bit of The Dadds' stew. What's Your Jump Like? kicks off with a Ventures-with-organ instrumental composition titled Contis, a Grobschnitt electro-vocal clip run at twice-speed on the bridge, then step into a Standell's/Barbarian's rocker (Pet So Beat) and the ride is on. They pour the late '60s over you like chocolate sauce on a fat man's ice cream—- track after track of it and most of it in English. They excel on the instrumental side of things, keyboards and guitar stepping way beyond the norm of the genre. They not only get the sound, they get the feel and I find myself paying little if any attention to lyrics (much like I did in the actual '60s, come to think of it). I mean, what good are lyrics when the music says it all?

When they step outside the English sector, as they do on Les Sucettes, it is The Dadds all over again. It is not the band's fault, nor is their music less. It is a simple matter of being wired for English, and real English and not that King's stuff. They can slang it up as much as they want in Italian, but when you don't understand Italian you start paying attention. Get it? I remember my father shaking his head at Rock & Roll and saying, 'but you can't understand the words.'. It has taken me this long to figure out that maybe you're not supposed to, but when you can't understand the language...

There is a bit of Brit Rock to each of these bands as well. As much as I didn't pay attention, the Brits did something right back then or us Americans would not have been emulating them so much. Most notable is The Jumpin' Quails' Carnival Riot with its guitar riffs from another planet. It is Georgie Fame, Italian-style, with guitar evidently playing in another key most of the time, but who cares? They got the sound down.

To complete this European Union, the bands head to Greece to get it done. Both albums come courtesy of , a label ready to reach beyond borders to get the music they want. If The Dadds and The Jumpin' Quails are any indication, they could easily build a niche label of note. Tell you what. Forget my narcissistic views and research the bands and the label. They may be a bit underground now, but there is a chance they won't be for long. There are interesting things happening in France and Italy and Greece. Very interesting...

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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