various artists,
Pierre's Plastic Dreams
(Market Square, 1999)

Pierre's Plastic Dreams is a piece of pop history, an artifact of a time past and a great listen. In essence, it is a compilation of the original garage music but, unlike the latter examples of the genre, these songs were originally recorded in 1966 and 1967 by a number of groups featuring the common factor of Pierre Tubbs.

Most of the songs were written by Tubbs, and the talent evident and the versatility of the performers are striking.

I particularly liked "A Little Bit of Shangri-La." Maybe it transports me back to a time of youth but, hey, that's what good music is about. The title and that of the succeeding track, "Encapsulated Marigold," will set the songs in a firm context of the 1960s with the flower-power generation and the use of language to weave webs.

"Paint Yourself" has a distinct Beatles feel, as does "Rubber Gun." I say that not to denigrate the songs but rather to explain them to readers. In fact, I would mean it as a compliment.

On tracks six and seven Pierre is working with a different band called The Owl and his style has changed. "Shades of Blue & Greenwater Flies" reminds me of another great '60s sound, but I cannot put my finger on the name. "Run to the Sun" is one of the big ballad-type songs of the era and is beautifully produced.

This album will have your mind going like a ping-pong ball. He gives us a set of tracks from his band called The Jeep and on songs like "Don't Come Running Back" we are in British Beach Boys territory. Then on "I Put on My Shoes" we are back on the Mersey beat. He continues the sound on a lovely '60s reality song "Here's a Heart," but listen closely, what gender is meant to be singing?

"You and Me" when the band was The Silence shows the influence of the folk generation with words about justice and equality. "Wanda" with that high note, "why-y-y-y," and driving beat will bring you back to the wonderful sound of the Four Seasons. Enjoy a sound that has seldom been bettered. "Did He Run" is an ideal song to exit on, combining Bo Diddley, the Stones and God knows what other influences.

I avoided reading the insert on this CD before listening to the album. On having a read I was delighted to see that some of the tracks had been recorded in the 1960s although too often as the b-side and as such would have had little or no exposure. The insert is full of interesting notes about influences and background.

This album is a joy to listen to and I am sure that will apply to any age group -- not just those who remember the '60s. But it is also a bit of history in that it is giving us the authentic sound of an era and showing the influences on writers and performers when music was king.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 30 July 2005