Of the thousands of U.S. garage bands who struggled in the '60s without achieving international success, the Misunderstood were not only among the very best, but among the very few to progress beyond basic garage sounds to music that has been (belatedly) recognized as nearly as accomplished and innovative as that of the British Invasion bands who touched off the garage explosion in the first place. Formed in Riverside, CA, in 1963, the group began as a basic R&Brock combo in the tradition of the Stones and the Animals. After the addition of steel guitarist Glenn Campbell, they rapidly moved toward a proto-psychedelic sound with guitar feedback, sustain, Middle Eastern influences, and exploratory song structures that strongly echoed the Yardbirds. With the encouragement of local expatriate British radio announcer John Ravenscroft (who would shortly become one of Britain's most influential DJs as John Peel, a designation he holds to this day), the band moved to England in 1966 in an attempt to find a sympathetic audience.
The group cut six songs (a few of which were issued as extremely rare singles) that found them anticipating the early innovations of groups like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. The group was praised by the British press and up-and-coming acts like Pink Floyd and the Move, but was hounded by U.S. draft authorities and internal problems, and disbanded in confusion around early 1967. Campbell kept the Misunderstood's name alive briefly with a couple unimpressive singles before forming Juicy Lucy, who had a small British hit with a cover of "Who Do You Love." The group's other guitarist, Tony Hill (actually a Britishman who joined the band after they arrived in England), joined High Tide, who recorded some progressive rock albums. The Misunderstood finally gained some measure of the respect due to them with a well-packaged reissue of their best material in the early '80s.
One of the great lost '60s albums. Side one includes all six of the tracks the Misunderstood recorded in England in 1966, with magnificent guitar work and nervy, ambitious (if a bit overtly cosmic) songwriting that combines some of the best aspects of the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds and Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd. Remember that Pink Floyd and Hendrix had yet to record when these sides were waxed; they aren't derivations, but genuinely innovative and groundbreaking performances. Side two contains seven pre-psychedelic demos from their U.S. garage days in the mid-'60s that, while not nearly as important as their 1966 work, are solid, crunching R&B-soaked rock in the tradition of their chief British influences.