The Chains – The Beatles Of El Paso

Except maybe for a bunch of local kids for a brief moment in ’67, The Chains weren’t really The Beatles neither by importance and especially not musically, but they sure might be considered for another one of those “unknown treasures” that could’ve shone much brighter than it did.

Revolving around the Pinney brothers, Tor and Roy, the story begins in New York in the first half of the decade, with the usual Merseybeat/Surf-wannabees scenario.

After a short stint as Johnny & The Starfires, with the ’63 recording of Tor’s Brit-sounding Curtis Mayfield-inspired beat ballad No Good, already suggesting his songwriting talent, they enter the world of showbiz as The Dolphins, releasing a pair of raw sounding surfy A-sides, backed by a much more interesting pair of B-sides, with I Should Have Stayed being a superb piece of moody folk rock, in the vein of The Poets and The Beau Brummels, while There Was A Time is a harmony-fueled garagey r’n’b.

A move to the Southwest, as well as a name change, brought the band their own share of, at least local, fame, with The Chains’ debut single I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore becoming an instant smash.

Unfortunately, only two more singles followed, with the first one still featuring The Dolphins’ strong harmonies, now moving towards the slightlydelic sunshiny pop sound, coupling You’re In Love with the re-recording of I Should Have Stayed, now with a more polished, Zombiefied treatment, while the last single finds them in a heavier mood, fully realised by the time of their unreleased ‘68/’69 recordings.

However, It’s A Shame is a full-blown heavy freakbeat classic that never was, while Stop The World (I Want To Get Off) is an occasionally Eastern-tinged, psychedelic gem, making a perfect crossover between the softer and the heavier side.

Besides A Walk In The Woods, another Turtle-sounding harmony pop, and a cover of The Lovin Spoonful’s She’s Still A Mystery To Me, the mentioned bunch of unreleased ‘68/’69 recordings mostly fall under a slightly heavier sound, ranging from the funked-up acid-rawk of Has Anybody Seen My Friend or Animal Farm, to the more sophisticated side of the genre, adding some of Buffalo Springfield and Moby Grape eclecticism (Heading Up Heading Down, Come Tomorrow).

Considering label owner Mike Dugo’s researching qualities, as well the high-quality packaging of the label’s debut release,’s new found activity is bound to take serious part in future ‘60s re-releases.

[Released by 2006]

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