To celebrate their four-decade run, garage-rock revivalists give the people what they don’t know they wanted.
2022 marks this American ensemble’s 40th anniversary which provided the veterans with an excuse to present their faithful followers with previously unreleased music – a comp of curious covers and a sole original to kick it off. Hopefully, with Rudi Protrudi and his crew members in fine fettle, it’s a “feed aficionados some more material” affair rather than “give fans a few rare-fare numbers before bidding farewell” matter. “Encore” doesn’t pay tribute to the combo’s chosen scene like its predecessor "NYC" did, as the collective go beyond the obvious here, draw on obscure gems, aided and abetted by a couple of prominent-pedigree guests.
One of these is Steve Mackay, the late saxophonist with THE STOOGES, wailing away on the gloriously parping “Land Of Nod” out of the RARE EARTH repertoire, which should show the shelf life of Rudy’s groovy reading of it, and the other Wally Waller, playing bass on a brass-splashed version of “Alexander” which he co-wrote for THE PRETTY THINGS – only the esteemed extras can’t distract the listener from the acerbic vigor of Protrudi’s current trio. His strings drive the anthemic delivery of THE WILDWOOD’s “Plastic People” while Lana Loveland’s organ ups the pop creepiness of MARBLE HALL’s eponymous classic, and Marco Rivagli’s drums propel, together with handclaps, the fresh take on “Eyes In The Back Of My Head” from THE BEVIS FROND towards pogo paradise.
However, the acid-drenched covers seem to be a simple extension of the platter’s highly memorable, autobiographical opener “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” – but, of course, they’re, in fact, its roots, so there’s iron logic in such a wonderful twist. In this context, completists might rejoice in the bonuses on the album’s CD variant: the unusually lyrical “Let’s Live For Today” which was penned and is accompanied by THE GRASS ROOTS, and the footstompin’ “Santa Claus” by THE SONICS which THE FUZZTONES laid down for "Psych-Out Christmas" to use here as a slight return to their own debut LP. If that’s the reminder of what’s been achieved in the four subsequent decades, “Encore” must become but a remainder of the past – and an appetite-whetting pointer to the future.