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Unknown Mystery 60's Group

Unknown Mystery 60's Group - Unknown Mystery 60¹s Group Vol.2
(CD from Octopus Recordings, PO Box 915, Wilsonville, OR 97070, USA).
This record (and its predecessor) is somehow inevitable, though wonderful. I've long speculated in these pages on just how much prime 60's cut there is still actually out there, and in terms of sheer barrel scraping honesty this CD comp scores highly. Some history: In 1997, the Distortions label released a CD entitled Unknown Mystery 60's Group. The songs on the CD were found on a reel-to-reel tape from a flea market in Philadelphia. At the time of the release, nothing was known about the band. Excited by this, Octopus managed to track the band down via the classifieds of various Philly newspapers. The drummer (currently living in Spain) eventually supplied them with missing details, photographs and tapes for a further volume, but under the condition that the band should remain completely anonymous. So, Volume 2 by Unknown Mystery 60¹s Group even has some stylistic 70's turns to it, and although dates are not listed we can assume that the material is a little later than the first volume. It¹s REALLY good stuff though, you get snippets of Arthur Lee in the vocals, Beatle strums and tambourine, Buffalo Springfield sounds, the anglophilia of Big Star or the better Box Tops records. Why You Gotta Be That Way is thematically Lou Reed¹s Vicious but with a Charlatans (original) lilt and a great sense of humour. Timothy has riffs which will make the E6ers kill each other in the fight to cover it first, GREAT lyrics, poppy Dylan with drug references and a surreal bent. Dark Side of the Sun is classic psych a la The Youngbloods or The Leaves, not a second rate version or a carbon copy, but a composition which ought to have been sitting with those artists in record shop racks at the time. Harmonies intact, song polished, recording and production very good. It certainly beats some of the rag-bag compilations I've heard trawling the vaults of relatively well known artists. Often, when far into obscure territory I have to return to a canonized favourite to remind myself where and why the benchmarks exist, by listening to The Count Five or The Electric Prunes. (John Peel categorised it perfectly as not being able to add or subtract anything from the piece). I was glad to find here that this totally anonymous archive material stood the test in the large majority of places. The only negative here is the information void it exists in: I really wish I could tell you all a bit more about the damn band!
Steve Hanson
Ptolemic Terrascope

Unknown Mystery 60s Group - Volume II CD (Octopus Recordings)
More -- uh, "archival" -- discoveries from the Unknowns. For those unfamiliar with the story, a quick recap: Volume 1, issued in late '97 by Distortions, claimed to be tracks found on an unlabelled reel of tape purchased at a Philadelphia flea market. Volume 2 claims to be more "lost" recordings from the private collection of the drummer, tracked down by our friends at Octopus, somewhere in the isles of Spain. Okay, whatever. I don't buy that crap for a minute, and even a casual listen to the tracks on this disc will reveal that this stuff wasn't recorded anywhere NEAR the time-frame claimed in the liners (mid '70s), but that doesn't matter at all. This a top-drawer collection of fucking EXCELLENT Beatles-style pop tunes, sung with a wry wit and a genuine ear for pop hooks. "Timothy," my favorite track on the record, details the adventures of a guy misdiagnosed by an inept optometrist, who persists in wearing the wrong glasses so he can keep smoking pot for his ever-worsening glaucoma. "Dark Side of the Sun" recalls the cracked pop of Syd Barrett's Madcap Laughs LP, and"The Great Northeast," "Morrell Park," and "(I Wanna Do Anything) But Look For A Job" detail the boredom and disappointment of life in mid-America with a unique sense of humor, along with the impossibly catchy hooks. This is a great record, far and away better than anything coughed up by a major label in the last I don't know how many years, so why persist in the transparent "artifacts" thing? If I was writing songs this uniformly excellent, I'd want CREDIT for 'em. This is unreservedly recommended for fans of the Beatles, Todd Rundgren and similar pop geniuses. Great, great stuff.
Rob Branigan
Dead Flowers 4/12/2002

The story goes that the songs on their first LP were found on a reel to reel tape purchased at an outdoor flea market in Philadelphia and nothing was known about the band. Volume II surmises that eventually the drummer was tracked down in Spain, and here we have another collection of eerily overlooked lost treasures. The truth is that it's all a clever fable---I met the guy in a bar in N. Y. a few years ago---but the music is so perfectly anachronistic that the truth doesn't matter to anyone but the most maladjusted pop geeks. Whoever it is plays songs such as "I'm Alright," "Why You Gotta Be That Way," and "When I Get Home," with such timeless precision and devotion to the 60's pop form, that I'm not quite sure what year we're in right now. It's almost a shame, because Mr. Anonymous schools even the best retro-revivalists with his tight harmonies and sentimental words, and a live show would surely stroke the power chords in the hearts of pop music enthusiasts around the world. but it's all about the craft not the credit---just like in the 60's!
Yosef Lewis
The Big Takeover #49

A nice surprise from Octopus Records from the States. Remember Dave Brown's Distortions release from '99 (that some think original, others a hoax)? Beatley pop, with a West Coast edge. Well, the guys at this label claim to have tracked down a member, who now lives in Spain, and struck a deal to release a set of later tapes he has in his possession. I do kinda believe it now, as other than having more of a '70-'71 sound, this mixture of home and studio recordings contains the vibe and harmonies that made vol. 1 so special. The liners state that the reason that this was released is that the identity of the band cannot be revealed...... Hmmmmm. Who were they?
Anyhow, I'd say that this release is defo SHINDIG friendly.
Jon "Mojo" Mills
Shindig Magazine


Just finished listening to Volume II by the Unknown Mystery Sixties Group. Unfrigginbelievable. Why they choose to remain anonymous is anybody's guess. To be honest with you, I could really care less about all the mystery nonsense. It's been quite a while since I've had a solid long player to listen to, but I've got one now. A couple of tracks, "Parachute" and "Why You Gotta Be That Way" sound like they could have been Beatles for Sale/Beatles '65 outtakes. Another song, "The Trouble You've Been In" is simply a masterpiece. The CD also comes with an insert featuring a bunch of screwy pictures that make the whole thing even more bizarre than the first outing.