Thursday, December 22, 2011

Larry's Rebels - Best Of 1965-1969

Every country has its groups that are willing to do nothing more than go with the flow of current trends, whether they're British Invasion, psychedelic, soul, pop, grunge, techno, or whatever. In the New Zealand of the 1960s, Larry's Rebels were one of the most visible of these groups. They recorded plenty of singles (five making the Kiwi Top Ten) and played innumerable concerts, even making a bit of a dent into the Australian market (where they toured frequently at the end of the '60s). But at the end of the day, they contributed nothing to the state of international musical affairs, content mostly to record or perform competent cover versions. 

Larry's Rebels did write a few of their own songs, which were usually very pop-oriented takes on British and American pop/rock. At times the band sound like a New Zealand version of Paul Revere & the Raiders, with even less personality. Not that you would expect much individuality from a group which, over the course of a single 1968 live set, would perform covers of tunes by the Rolling Stones, Engelbert Humperdinck, the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, the Young Rascals, and Eric Burdon. The group faded out around 1970, but leader Larry Morris made big headlines in his native land in 1971 after supplying LSD to an undercover police officer, receiving a seven-year jail sentence in a country not noted for tolerant attitudes toward drugs.

Even drawing selectively from their 1965-69 output, this 26-track compilation offers a pretty slim resumé of credentials. Running heavy on inferior covers of British Invasion hits, it also has a few flower-power tinged pop originals that are nothing special. The best cut is their unexpectedly terrific Merseybeat interpretation of Dionne Warwick's "This Empty Place." As a whole it's way too slight to warrant a recommendation, even to '60s collectors.
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