22 January 2009
Chocolate Watchband - Melts In Your Brain . . . Not On Your Wrist (RAW PSYCHEDELIC RHYTHM AND BLUES US 1965-1969)
Great Rock'n'Roll rarely translates properly to disc.
The history of the genre is littered with literally thousands of acts that were blinding and transcendent on the bandstand, yet limp, ineffectual or misguided in the studio.
And the opposite is just as true, though the art of the recording medium allows for a control and an innovation that usually isn't possible in a live context.
When the two disciplines are matched, there is the potential for true greatness; yet for those involved, the realization of such may come only after years of frustrated disillusion with the initial outcome.
Such is the case with the "Chocolate Watchband".
The recorded legacy of this supreme Psychedelic Punk combo paints a picture quite removed from the truth, yet as our definitive new anthology "MELTS IN YOUR BRAIN... NOT ON YOUR WRIST" demonstrates, it nevertheless holds up as one of the finest catalogues of the 1960s, balanced between the "Chocolate Watchband"'s own Anglophile Blueswailing, and a preternatural aura, the result of studio trickery imposed without the bands knowledge or consent.
The juxtaposition acts as a paradigm of how the "British Invasion"-inspired-Punk fury acquired an experimental veneer, and led to something unique.
By unwittingly having their record career mapped out for them by producer "Ed Cobb", the "Chocolate Watchband" paradoxically wrote themselves into the annals of cultdom; yet it is the "Rock'n'Roll" heartbeat of this once-in-a-lifetime band that is their true heirloom.
As well as handily collecting their complete recorded works 1965-69 in one nicely remastered package, "MELTS IN YOUR BRAIN... NOT ON YOUR WRIST" seeks to finally clarify the peculiar and fascinating history of this consummate group.
The track listing on this definitive 2 CD set clearly delineates between the tracks that truly feature the definitive "Chocolate Watchband" i.e. the grinding 1966 model led by front-man par excellence "David Aguilar" - and everything else attributed to the "Chocolate Watchband" name, whether it be recordings by the earlier and later incarnations of the combo, or those trippy cuts on their three long-players either adulterated or recorded by someone else entirely.
The many aficionados that have come to love the "Chocolate Watchband"'s albums over the years are no doubt blissfully unaware of the machinations behind the substitutions and studio fakery on their records, and no doubt cherish the non-Watchband sides on those records just as much.
To which end, their studio adventures, as well as the illustrious life and times of the "Chocolate Watchband" are examined in great detail in the copiously illustrated booklet, with commentary from all the bands members, and a rare interview with the late "Ed Cobb".
Though "Big Beat"'s earlier "Chocolate Watchband" CDs remain in print, the definitive nature of "Melts In Your Brain...Not On Your Wrist" is deliberately intended as the last word on the group.
And for one member at least, some long overdue justice is finally served.
Those familiar with "Chocolate Watchband" history will know that their "Nuggets Series" endorsed classic "Let's Talk About Girls""David Aguilar", but that of a faceless session singer selected by "Ed Cobb".
With access to the original multi-track masters, "David Aguilar" recently returned to the studio to add new vocals to a trio of backing tracks where his vocal had been erased or replaced.
And so these songs now approximate the way they would have originally sounded and, in the case of "Let's Talk About Girls", the "Chocolate Watchband"'s unwitting signature tune is now back with whom it rightfully should belong.