Question Mark and the Mysterians - The Best of Question Mark and the Mysterians - Cameo Parkway, 1966-1967

2005 ABKCO Music & Records Inc.  CD cat.#: 001877192322.

Track List:

01. I Need Somebody		02:15
02. Stormy Monday			02:27
03. You're Telling Me Lies		02:31
04. Ten O'Clock			02:13
05. Set Aside			03:03
06. Up Side			02:53
07. '8' Teen			02:48
08. Don't Tease Me			01:41
09. Don't Break This Heart Of Mine	01:55
10. Why Me			01:38
11. Midnight Hour			02:38
12. 96 Tears			02:58
13. Girl (You Captivate Me)		02:17
14. Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby	01:57
15. Got To			02:22
16. I'll Be Back			02:02
17. Shout (Part 1 and 2)		05:31
18. Hangin' On A String		02:15
19. Smokes			01:52
20. It's Not Easy			02:43
21. Don't Hold It Against Me		01:57
22. Just Like A Rose			02:10
23. Do You Feel It			02:25
24. Do Something To Me		02:37
25. Love Me Baby (Cherry July)	03:03
26. Midnight Hour [Unreleased Version]	02:30
27. 96 Tears [Unreleased Version]	03:03

Playing time: 1:07:56

Though most people remember ? & the Mysterians solely for their one enduring hit, "96 Tears," the frat-band staple that mixed garage rock with Tex-Mex via a monomaniacal organ riff, they actually laid down plenty of other memorable tracks in their initial lifespan. Most, including the original version of their hit, were, incredibly, unavailable on CD for decades making this 2005 reissue of the band's Cameo-Parkway sides something of a monumental occasion for garage rock collectors. The Mysterians are in their prime here ably mixing blues, soul, and teeth-baring rockers with rough-and-ready aplomb, and the inclusion of a few never-before-heard tracks (including an alternate version of "96 Tears") makes this sharply assembled anthology an absolute must for fans of the genre.

Recording information: Allegro Sound Studios; Dick Charles Recording Service, New York, NY; Michigan; New York, NY; Regent Sound STudios, New York, NY; Shields Recording Studio, Bay City, MI; Talent Masters.

? & the Mysterians: Question Mark (vocals); Bobby Balderrama (guitar); Frank Rodriguez (organ); Frank Lugo, Fernando Aguilar (bass guitar); Eddie Serrato (drums).

Additional personnel: Tony Orlando (background vocals).

Uncut (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[The songs] exude hipster cool far transcending their one-hit-wonder reputation."

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Landmark upper Midwest garage rock soul.

The Cameo Parkway box set ("Cameo Parkway 1957-1967") released earlier this year included the Mysterians' garage rock standard, "96 Tears," along with their debut album's leadoff, "I Need Somebody." Having been sequestered in Allen Klein's vaults (along with the rest of the Cameo Parkway catalog) for nearly forty years, the freshness of the master tapes blew away the cobwebs grown over countless gray-market remastered-from-vinyl reissues. This follow-up volume, one in a set of eight to drill down on specific Cameo Parkway artists, fleshes out the rest of the Mysterians' seminal mid-60s recordings.

Though the band couldn't be expected to wax another side as fully realized and potent as "96 Tears," the rest of their catalog is no slouch. There's a Stax-like funkiness underpinning the band's garage rock, making these tunes danceable in a more seductive manner than their coastal contemporaries. The band wrote most of their own material, and picked up a few purpose-built tunes (like the super-fine "96 Tears" knock-off -- and Smash Mouth cover hit -- "Can't Get Enough of You Baby") and covers that include bluesy readings of "Stormy Monday" and The Isley Brothers' "Shout." The slower (and stereo) unreleased take of "96 Tears" is a nice addition, if only for how well it shows the supercharged power of mono mixing on the original.

This CD includes the whole of the Mysterians' two Cameo albums ("96 Tears" and "Action"), both sides of their last Cameo single ("Do Something to Me" b/w "Love Me Baby (Cherry July)"), and a pair of unreleased stereo alternates from 1966 ("Midnight Hour" and "96 Tears"). The only side that seems to be missing is the A-side of their single as The Semi-Colons, "Beachcomber." Ironically, the B-side ("Set Aside") is present, as it was on the debut album. All tracks are true stereo, except for mono on #1, 6, 7, 11, 12, 21, 22, 24, and 25. Jeff Tamarkin's liner notes are heavy on the hipster-ese, and the art direction is light on photos; both minor quibbles given the riches in the grooves. [hyperbolium-com]