SP | Sneaking a brief glimpse at Guerssen’s reissue of MHR’s ‘Your Heart’ just might have you thinking the worst, in a clenched buttock kinda way. After all, the plain white sleeve, topped and tailed with a line or two of sans serif, would make the Happy Shopper livery look like the very last word in top notch avant garde design.
And that band name. Echoes of the hideousness of comatose MOR popsters Alessi and (eurgh) The Starland Vocal Band flood the mind. But as a certain Mr. Bo Diddley said ‘you can’t judge a book by the cover’, and by gad sir, he spilt a bibful of common sense there, for this seemingly anonymous packaging conceals one criminally overlooked jewel.
Even though this Staten Island-based 5-tet were a regular gigging concern, their stand alone album, originally released in 1972, when the U.S. was knee-deep in boogie bands and singer-songwriter confessionals, was merely an out of synch, whispered aside in the pantheon of American private pressings, with only a hundred copies given out to friends and family.
While this slice of garage-infused teenbeat has influences found in The Rising Storm, The Schibbinz, The Summer Sounds and those undisputed gods of melancholy, The Bachs, the completely self-penned material is patterned with some unusually beguiling twists and turns that seemingly bear allegiance to no band! The basic meat’n’potatoes chordage of ‘Summer Means New Love’, for example, has the addition of tape drop-ins, in which the hectoring tones of a lounge MC can be heard admonishing the clientele for littering. Poignant trumpet themes supplement ‘Now I Need You’, ‘3 a.m.’ and ‘Singer to Singer’, while there are hints of white, soul-styled vocalese in the great ‘Till I get Home’. All elements that make this a thoroughly disarming collection.
Guerssen’s sterling detective work in unearthing a certain something that even Ron Moore’s ‘Underground Sounds’ sourcebook missed out on is surely worthy of the old laurel leaves treatment. Hell, this almost eclipses their Lard Free reissue program. Well… almost.