Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Leaves - Hey Joe

The Leaves blasted onto the 60's garage scene with their inspired, high-energy version of the classic "Hey Joe" - influenced many punks (and cover versions) to come! But, there is actually a lot more to these cats.

"Dr. Stone" is certainly a garage rocker, with its insistent, tremelo'd chords and bluesy harp, but lyrically and vocally (lots of cool harmonies) it almost leans towards later psychedelic sounds. But "Just a Memory" is almost 60's MOR though it is followed by a solid take on Allen Tousaint's "Get Out of My Life Woman". Unfortunately, there is another weak ballad in "Girl From the East" with a good, Turtles-esque folk-rocker, "He Was a Friend of Mine" next setting the stage for the amazing title number!

Positively frantic, with its moving bass lines, chomping chords, neat little lead lines and stompin' beat, and a totally original break, this is many people's ultimate version of "Hey Joe". Almost as good, though nowhere near as manic, is their stripped-down, garage take on the Monkees' "Words" - nice, bass-driven turnaround and fuzz in the breaks, too! Super cool!

"Back of the Avenue" is a groovin', upbeat instrumental number not unlike the Stones "2120 Michigan Avenue", which may be what the title is alluding to. They venture into very silly psychedelia in "War of Distortion", making it a true throw-away. It was almost obligatory to cover "Tobacco Road" and the Leaves seem to have taken their version from the Nashville Teens hit, though this isn't as strong. "Goodbye My Love" is a good, somewhat wimpy, pop song done originally by the Searchers, whose harmonies are replicated well here. The finale, "Too Many People", makes up for any previous weak spots and is probably my favorite song by the band. Another terrific garage monster!

Yes, it's uneven, but this is still another good example of the ultra-swinging 60's California garage scene!