The Lost: Early Recordings AA-059

Cosmik Debris
February 1997
(C) 1997 - DJ Johnson
This Boston band came close but didn't get the cigar. Now that their original records have been hunted to extinction and their better known tracks have been released on garage comps, Arf! Arf! has put together this killer collection of 26 rarities. The 19 demo tracks are fresh, simple recordings that prove The Lost wasn't a producer's creation. They were excellent songwriters and fine performers, capable of kicking out tough R & B or tightly knit pop tunes with equal skill. Cover fans will be knocked out by their version of "Who Do You Love," amused by their romping take on "A Certain Chick" and mystified by their completely unnecessary instrumental version of Burt Bachrach and Hal David's "Walk On By."

The four acoustic tracks are "Kaleidoscope," "Is It I," "Dry Your Eyes," and "Dead Flowers," and while they're not particularly "complete," they do offer an even better sense of their songwriting skills than the demos do. While we're all sick and tired of the whole "unplugged" thing here in the 90s, the concept of stripping a song down to its most basic components still makes sense, and these early examples bear that out.

The live tracks that close the album, "No Money In My Pocket," "Mystic," and the psychedelic jam called "Ole (As The Mere Bagatelle)" range progressively from ordinary to amazing. "Ole" shows the band finding new depth and creativity in a modal format similar to--though certainly not as stellar as--the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's classic "East-West." A very interesting end to a very satisfying collection. Arf! Arf! has really been doing a service to the garage rock community. The liners are educational and interesting, and the sound quality is surprisingly good. All in all, this is a great way to spend 72 minutes.

Doug Sheppard
The term "great lost album" has been used 1,000 times. But when you're talking about this collection of 26 previously unreleased tunes by these Bostonians, you indeed have a "great Lost album."

The Lost are known more as the training ground for Willie Alexander than the three Capitol singles released during their lifetime, but Early Recordings shows that they were among the best of the post-British Invasion/pre-psychedelic American bands.

Though Alexander was the one who went on to later fame, the Lost's main asset was guitarist Ted Myers. Like some of the Brits who probably influenced him, Myersm had a knack for writing great melodies and bridges for otherwise rudimentary songs (mostly about girls). The material is very Beatlesque and shuns fuzz guitar, but that doesn't stop tunes like "No Reason Why," "Changes," "It Is I" and an instrumental cover of "Walk On By" from bristling with as much youthful energy as any band that was looking to the Yardbirds or Pretty Things for inspiration. And with pop numbers like "Violet Gown," "Youth," "Dead Flowers" and "Mystic," who needs intensity when the hooks are so great?

Though the demo nature of this collection renders it slightly disjointed, the performances and material usually make up for any lack of flow. In some ways, it may be better to hear these songs before a major label square could clean them up.

Even so, one hopes a collection of the Capitol sides and unreleased studio recordings will follow someday. If you pardon the second use of the expression, it would make another great Lost album.

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