Jul 062007

Archivist in Spain Strikes Paydirt

Home recording and the ease of indie releases have made for the ready sharing of our own private yesterdays. Some yesterdays are better left forgotten, but when shared with passion and craft, there’s no need to get hung up on the degree of retro-authenticity of the lo-fi recording, any anachronisms that sneak into the retro-themed lyrics, and the stitching on the band members’ Beatle boots. It was through this combination of passion and craft that the Unknown Mystery 60’s Group was able to pull the wool over the eyes of garage-collector sheep with their first release, which was successfully launched as having been culled from an unknown, mysterious tape at found at an outdoor flea market. With the newly released Volume III: Love Songs (Birdhouse Records), the band’s anonymous archivist in Spain has unearthed more recordings by these mysterious lads that sound richer, in parts, than their first two sets of recordings.

The sound of the latest from Unknown Mystery 60’s Group is as homemade and quaint as ever, but there’s more room for the songs to breathe and the imagination to wander. This is especially evident on gentle songs like “Butterfly” and “Having You Here With Me”, which are fleshed out by light touches of orchestration (shades of Dave Gregory’s underrated work with XTC) and detailed harmonies.

Accusatory [Insert mid-60s “The” Group] Do Dylan-like rockers continue to be a staple of the band’s output. My favorite is “You’ve Changed”, which hints at Moby Grape’s “Omaha” if that San Francisco band spent less time worrying about giving us the finger and more time on their songcraft. Beatles’ movie-era-styled numbers also reign, the most “photogenic” of which is “Three Hurtful Things”.

As you hum and toe tap along with this CD, you’ll not need to break down the meter of the lyrics or plum literary depths for hidden meanings. The Unknown Mystery 60’s Group sing about stuff they know in a straightforward, sometimes humorous manner. For private memories, it’s hard to be much more inviting.

“Having You Here With Me”

“You’ve Changed”

“Three Hurtful Things”


  12 Responses to “Yesterday’s Reviews Today: Unknown Mystery 60’s Group, Volume III: Love Songs

  1. saturnismine

    i am a proud owner of “volume iii”. this stuff is grrrrreat!

    nice choice of tunes to highlight, ed!

    other faves of mine include “what did i do to deserve you?” and “jennifer”.

    i’ll post more detailed thoughts later….

  2. 2000 Man

    I like the music, KingEd. I didn’t buy the backstory for a second, but the music is genuinely fun. Don’t people remember the fuss about Klaatu being The Beatles way back when? I hope they stick to it, though. It’s a funny story, and gets funnier every time they “unearth” a new, pristine recording. I have to see if I can get it out here in the sticks.

    Have you ever heard Parish Hall? They only released one album, in 1970 on Fantasy. It made no impact on the world whatsoever. I saw it on a cd rerelease by Fallout Records (FOCD2040) with a sticker that said something like, “This unknown blues trio from 1970 is fantastic! PREPARE TO BE BLOWN AWAY!” Always a sucker for marketing genius like that, I plopped down my eleven bucks and I’ve been pretty happy with it. Short, tight, bluesy songs. It was like getting a brand new album with all those groovy old aesthetics.

    Thanks for the turn on!

  3. BigSteve

    It sounds to me much more like some band found an old tape and thought they’d get some buzz by pretending that they produced these recordings. The pseudo McCartney bass all over the songs is a dead giveaway, not to mention the ‘rug’ harmonies on every song. Getting someone’s ex-girlfriend to play flute on Having You Here With Me and pretending it’s a mellotron is almost a 60s cliché. Too bad they didn’t learn which chord to use to end that song so it wouldn’t leave the listener hanging.

    Only in the 60 would a tambourine get mixed as loud as the one in Three Hurtful Things, and no contemporary songwriter would dare name a song Three Hurtful Things anyway. The ‘somebody’s little brother’ drumming on You’ve Changed brings back some painful memories, and the attempt to ‘rock’ is indicative of some 60s kids who either never heard or don’t understand the first few Rolling Stones records. The only thing that’s missing is the overuse of 12-string guitar. Wouldn’t the lyrics be more anachronistic if they’d been written recently? Did they really think they could get away with this?

    Whoever the band trying to pull this scam is, good luck trying to reproduce this sound live in the 00’s. And I hope the guys who recorded this grew up to be lawyers and make UM6G pay dearly.

  4. saturnismine

    man, all i know is that some cute hipster chick recommended this shit to me, and i dig it.

    it seems like the UM60sG is all i’m hearin’ about when i go out these days.

    the kids dig it like a thrift store find…all fighting over which one heard it first.

    as for the music, if it IS copped, as you suggest, steve, and it sounds as if it probably is, at least it’s good.

  5. I just received mine today, thanks (whoever you are) and I couldn’t wait to rip that wrapping off! Can’t wait to commit it to tape!

  6. Mr. Moderator

    I could swear I’ve heard that “Butterfly” song before! Great stuff. By the way, yesterday I saw a woman who looked a lot like the woman on that album cover. You should have seen the blank look of ingorance on her face when I asked her if she knew UM60’sG!

  7. I like “Butterfly” a lot too.

    “You have tafeta fit for a king.
    Yet all that you wear is not but homemade.
    And everyone know that you’re free.”

    Don’t ask me why, but I always think of Art when I listen to those lines.

    . . . .And speaking of Art -dude, what is the date of your next show, in August? I wanna put the date on the calendar. I’m there this time. Period.

    E. Pluribus

  8. I also give the big thumbs up to that Butterfly song. It has a certain melliflousness that is reminiscent of many of the great 60’s Welsh folk rock bands. BTW epluribus, I believe the line is “You have packaging fit for a king…”.

    Best regards,

    David Plum
    Director of Janatorial Staff
    Birdhouse Records Inc

  9. Hey Dave,

    I apologize. I guess it’s just the temper of my nature or the nature of my temper getting the better of me.

    E. Pluribus

  10. saturnismine


    it’s on August 18th, at johnnybrendas.

    of course, you shouldn’t feel obligated…there will be plenty of gigs.


  11. These guys are frauds!!! Inspired by a love of Vol II, I wrote to “Dave Plum” at “Octopus Records” in response to an ad for admin asst job opening with the label. I was ready to relocate my family to the west coast and more than willing to take care of making coffee and managing the “creature comforts” of the label staff, as the ad described.

    Plum never responded to numerous emails or answered my calls, so I purchased as many copies of Vol II as I could find and drove over them so “the kids” couldn’t get their hands on them. I plan to do the same with the copies of Vol III that were handed to me in front of the clothespin at 15th & Market.

  12. I think the proper shorthand name is the Unk Mys’ties. Rumor has it after name dropping Kara in Fileroom, titling another song after her, and putting her on the cover, their next LP is going to be called “Restraining Order”.

    Excellent songs, hair, and trousers! Fileroom and Kara’s Song are my faves.

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