Pebbles Vol. 12
AIP 10002 USA 1983
"Just when you thought "Pebbles" had thrown in the towel, these two platters leap into the fray! As usual there's plenty of fab sounds to be found here. A variety of styles are represented, in the great "Pebbles" tradition: folk-rock, pop-punk, psych, and just plain wyld stuff.
Volume 12 is no lame duck though, with great pop-punk from the likes of Peter & The Rabbits, the Outcasts, and others. Also dig the pure garage ravings of the Nomads, the Clockwork Orange, and the Breakers with their sneering folk-punk classick "Don't Send Me No Flowers (I Ain't Dead Yet)."
Both volumes are essential purchases."
- Mike Stax (Originally published in Ugly Things #3, 1984)
The Llama llaments the poor quality of this volume, just as he did from volume 10 and spiraling down onwards.
He gives a couple of disbelieving thumbs up (I guess Clock Work Orange and Vejtables were ok in his book) but shakes his head in dismay at the rest of the somewhat uninspiring platter.
If you compare Pebbles Vol. 12 with the other contemporary contesters - it is a lame duck.
Remember, in 1983 there was a lot of cool stuff coming out. Pebbles seemed swooshed by, like an old boxing champion, being toured around, an aging titan in for the quick buck.
So where does it stand today, 34 years later?
I find it wildly confusing and mildly frustrating. But I also find it bold in its oblivious mix of songs.
First we get - rushing out the gates - the ultra crude and wild party-famined Nomads riding the furious bull that is From Zero Down. Team Teenage Shutdown wisely rescued this scraggly straggler and put it in much better company on TS wildest volume: The World Ain't Round (where it is easily one of the best).
Then we get Teddy Boys chugging away on a slightly lysergic version of Diddley's Mona. A real cool version.
Then we get the first hick-up. The frowning folkpop-scraper Keep The Music Playing recorded in makeshift wall-of-sound. It sounds a bit like shit. Human shit.
Breakers don't exactly illuminate the set with an equally moody piece; Don't Send Me No Flowers (I Ain't Dead Yet). I was never a big champion for this revered track, but it has grown on me through the years. But when I first heard it, in shitty Pebbles-sound, it did nothing for the set of songs that is Pebbles vol. 12. It was just another monkey-wrench in the music machine.
But it was when the lush folkpop sounds of Peter & the Rabits entered that I knew I was fucked by a Pebbles volume again.
Pawnee Drive drives the point through and when I get to Clock Work Orange I'm in no mood to listen to music anymore. And to be fair, as cool as Clock Work Orange is - its powerful double-sided groovy acidic killer is not strong enough to save this album from mediocrity.
We do get Richard & the Young Lions glorified bubblegum blue-eyed soul. Never did much to me.
And as the world fade while you slip into a comatose state of boredom you hear some more poppish folkbeat crap.
So why don't I hate the living crap out of this silly beast of a garage comp?
First - it has so much character. It sounds like a Pebbles - and a lame-duck volume of Pebbles at that - and the bad songs are actually all pretty camp and fun.
Tracks like Pawnee Drive's Ride, Something's Gone by The Jam (not that Jam) and the high-energy pop-soul of Canada's Free Thinkers sounds even more lame now than ever.
And Keep The Music Playing by Coming Times is so terribly bland you don't know what to do.
But they all help to create the stinky but sweet ambience that is Pebbles vol. 12. What, would you want to go back in time and switch the tracks with presumed "killers"? Urgh, ok..
But I like this piss-stained paisley-shirt lame-duck set fine as it is.
It is beyond repair. You can't fix it. You can't pour more "cool" in it because it was never trying to be "cool". For the most part it is just as kitschy and camp and silly as a lot of the other crap that litters some other early volumes of Pebbles.
So, think of it like this: what you are about to hear is a compilation of poppy folkbeat aimed at the charts for mindless teeny-boppers.
Also, you get some high class acid punkers interspersed by lame ducks through the set of folky pop.
But first - the wildest fuckin punker there ever was: FROM ZERO DOWN by the mighty mighty Nomads!