How We Dig is a fledgling article series profiling Canadian record hunters. We aim to pick collector’s brains about their holy grails, favourite finds, discovery methods, and sources. For our first installment, we’re paying a visit to Steve Maupin and his insatiable appetite for COMPILATIONS OF OVERLOOKED GARAGE ROCK GENIUS.
Start Here – Nuggets Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
The stereo and record player are among the first things unpacked in Steve Maupin’s new home in southeast Regina. The assortment in his LP bins skews toward 60s and 70s rock n roll, garage-inspired music from revivalists like Billy Childish, and a smattering of debut final albums of bands passed over by popular acclaim in their time – like Chrysalis, a hippy folk group who jammed literally across the street from Frank Zappa. While he likes to play records at home, Steve digs all types of musical formats: “tapes, old cds, or whatever.” When absorbed in his work as an electrical engineer, long compilations keep the day flowing with a consistent groove and few interruptions. He’ll devour one or two compilations per workday, and he’ll have gleaned his favourite 30 songs by the weekend.
Steve’s comp-hunting started with the Technicolour Web of Sound. From there he moved on to the Nuggets garage comps which led to volumes of Nuggets-influenced multi-volume compilations, such as Pebbles, Boulders and Rubble – each set containing around 80 minutes of bands and songs missed by earlier treasure hunts. Steve recommends the Back from the Grave series, a ten volume set of garage punkers, which started in 1983 (volume 9 and 10 were released in 2015). There’s a lot of choice material on the Chocolate Soup For Diabetics and the Garage Punk Unknowns series, too. Debris comps out of L.A. are pretty hard to come by, but they’re fully worth the effort of tracking down if you are an ambitious hunter. For Steve, the rabbit hole goes on and on – new releases of un-compiled 60’s rockers are released every month, with so many of them still unheard. Next on Steve’s queue is the Gravel series, a U.S. compilation that follows in the Nuggets tradition.
Steve’s hunt for good garage tracks often involves mining a lot of material tagged online as “psych.” Much of what is now labeled as psych rock from the 60s is much more accurately understood to be garage rock. It often has very little to do with drugged sounds in particular, and is often only psychedelic in terms of its historic context, the 60s as the paisley blur of later generations’ selective sense of history. Closer to the source of the music itself, the wave of garage bands that Steve is most obsessed to discover were all spawned in the wake of the British Invasion; when starting a wild rock band with three of your school friends became a commonplace middle-classed aspiration. Gangs of four guys writing and building a sound together, taking on the world, inspired by The Kinks/The Beatles/The Rolling Stones. To Steve, DIY songs that came from the British Invasion’s aftershock is garage distilled to its most elemental form.
The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction
Steve is excited about the late 60s material from some regions approaching public domain soon and he is currently working on the second installment of his own compilation series. He would love to rediscover more Canadian garage rock along the lines of Buried Treasures: Winnipeg Rock Gems (1958-1974) which, in his eyes, is nearly as good as some of his favourite comps, including Drink Beer! Yell! Dance! and Copenhagen Beat.
Highly recommended: Copenhagen Beat
On the discovery front, there are also many blogs of generous diggers that post hoards of amazing “uncomped” gems, however many of these blogs get shut down. An example of this is the earlier incarnation of Surfadelic put together by Mr Eliminator. There are other sources omitted from this article. With that said, many still remain, or are being discovered. Steve praises Paradise of Garage Comps, an Italian blog run by Caveman. We highly recommend checking out any of Caveman’s 40-some volume series titled I’m Losing Tonight but I’m Winning Tomorrow!
When vinyl hunting Steve sometimes discovers gold on Ebay like a first pressing of Kaleidoscope’s Tangerine Dream or Firebeats Inc’s self-titled debut. He’d love to find a 45 of The Rats – Rat’s Revenge, a gonzo two-part spazz jam that sounds vocally like it belongs more to the burned out late 70s or the drunkest greaser blowout. Steve says, “I’d love to travel to NYC or Akron, OH, to dig through the dust of forgotten 45s, but I just don’t have the time. I’m grateful to those who are doing the real work of rediscovering this stuff.”
Steve uses Rate Your Music rather than Allmusic or Discogs, and has no time for most review sites other than Amazon. The growing supply of garage comps on YouTube puts a lot of undiscovered genius on his radar. He loves to read the responses of artists and their relatives whose web presence is often a surprise to them: “Hey my grandpa played on that!” or “I had no idea anybody liked our stuff.”
Throwing together his picks from favourites of other garage freaks, Steve is beginning to put out his own compilations of underappreciated old school garage rock gems. His first one is titled Garage Punk & Moody Losers. Only a few friends have CDR hardcopies of this labour of love. There’s a fair amount of acetate dub surface noise with some of the rarer songs, but it’s a high quality cross-section of Steve’s taste for garage rock. A few of his musically-gifted friends including Saskatoon’s The Garrys and Regina’s Herb and The Humans have responded favorably to the compilation. To hear most of the extended mix for yourself, it was recently posted to Soundcloud, here:
Garage Punk & Moody Losers is Steve Maupin’s debut compilation
There’s seemingly no end of recommendations of stellar comps and labels from Mr. Steve Maupin:
Mr Hotshot’s R & B Review
Surf Legends (And Rumors)
Highs in the Mid Sixties
Crypt Records (The Back from the Grave series for sure)
The Sundazed label
We hope you find something above that draws you deeper into garage rock. Keep your eyes peeled for Copenhagen Beat copies or Debris comps in used bins wherever you hunt. Let us know if you find one.
If you have treasures or hunting methods to show or share with your fellow collectors in a future installment of How We Dig, contact Steve Reed here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether your collection is deep or streamlined in volume, or broad or narrow in scope, we’d like to cover a diversity of collector backgrounds and interests, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Steven Reed collects heavy weirdness from the abyss and ethereal planes. You might recognize his hooded scowl as a former synth wizard with Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns a few years back. By day he’s a housing support worker with Carmichael Outreach, Inc. He also works Thursday nights at T+A and loves it when friends and strangers tip him off about great albums of any kind. Put your favourites on his radar in person, by email, or on Instagram @stevedwightreed