The addition to the title of this album says “a collection of out of print rarities, hard to find album tracks, outtakes, demos and live recordings” which gives a pretty clear idea that this is a must-have for the fans, but it’s also a good introduction of the Shambles’ musical profile for the uninformed.
One of their most obvious characteristics is the combination of the most diverse ’60s influences painted with a bit of some modern shades with a special emphasis on minor chords which results in a recognizable sound besides the obvious inspirations.
David Bash, one of the renowned journalists of the modern pop order, gave a very picturesque comment on the visual effect that the band left on him and it was something like this: “Bart Mendoza (voc./guitar) would be easy to imagine in the Yardbirds’ ’65 line up, Mark Z. (bass), the embodyment of Paul Kantner’s “surrealistic” picture from ’67 and Kevin Donaker Ring (solo guitar) as an image of some ’69-prog band member who’d just discovered the thrill of recording albums of seven (?!?!)-songs equally disposed over the double vinyl”.
During his career, Mendoza earned the tag of one of the most important faces in the process of forming the San Diego neo-mod/sixties/power-pop scene, while the Shambles represent some kind of a culmination, gathering the members from a couple of it’s most important bands (The Manual Scan, The Tell-Tale Hearts, The Crawdaddys, The Hoods …) with the ever-changing drum stool men.
Besides the eight years long career, thanks to their uncompromising attitude and the non-understanding labels, The Shambles’ discography is made only of two albums consisting of recordings from various periods (one of them is a Japan-only release!) and countless compilation and tribute-album appearances all over the world.
This is a collection of those “throw overs” with a couple of covers that perfectly represent the variety of influences like The Birds’ version of the mod-classic Leaving Here, the pure pop of The Merseys’ Sorrow , the Count Five’s garage-punk dynamite Psychotic Reaction, some ’70s jewels like the Raspberries’ Might As Well, the quadrophenic Is It In My Head, Elton John’s Harmony surprise or the post-new wave classics But I’m Different Now by The Jam and It’s Going To Happen by the Undertones.
Of course, the real treasure of the album are Bart’s originals, the mod-pop wonders Innocence Becomes You and (She’s Used To Playing With) Fire with a moderate amount of r’n’b ingredients, comparable to the similar Zombie-efforts (I Love You, Indication, Whenever You’re Ready…), the funky-charged bullet called Changes, worthy of THE “revolver” and Paul’s most inspirative bass parts, The Wonders’ inspired A Short Spinal (Will Tell), Delve Into Everything, intended for the Monkees reanimation and two more great Squire-tributes, Does Stephanie Know and It’s Mod Mod World.
If you think that your time has gone away some 35 years ago, The Shambles are exactly What You’re Missing!
[Released by Snap 2002]