The Arbors – The Very Best Of …

While other local late ’60s Ann Arbor acts such as MC5, The Stooges, The Rationals or Scot Richard Case were doing their best at building walls of noise within psychedelic haze, these two pairs of brothers were still relentlessly harmonizing their hearts out, over (over)orchestrated arrangements of all kinds of hits of the day.

In fact, originals found on their three albums are so rare, that at first I was wondering whether this kind of a concept makes any sense at all. Now that I’ve heard them, I’ve realized that maybe (!) throwing in those couple of originals makes even less sense. More than a few of their covers come as close to being described as “definitive” versions as possible.

The Box Tops The Letter, Blood, Sweat & Tears I Can’t Quit Her, The Doors Touch Me, Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone all make for genre defining sunshine harmony popsike items, on a par with the best of the Boettcher-related stuff, and all of them so dramatically different from the originals, that they might as well be considered for original efforts on their own right.

However out of concept it may seem at first, another cover more than worth the mention is Hey Joe, being the most psychedelic they get, making it into the best Vanilla Fudge recording they’d never made. In spite of me being kind of dismissive a few lines above, I DO regard two of the “originals to be among the highlights of the comp as well.

Wayne Carson Thompson’s Mr. Bus Driver is a kind of a just as great sequel to The Letter, while Love Is A Groovy Game (written by the mysterious – to me at least – B. Stegmeyer, who provides no less than three tunes) is a jazzy piece of popsike, that wouldn’t sound out of place among Glitterhouse’s contributions to the Barbarella soundtrack. Not exactly my own cup of tea, but I don’t mind taking a sip or two at all.

[Released by Rev-Ola 2007]

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