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The Contents Are - Through You (1967)



The Through You lp was little more than rumor til a copy mysteriously appeared at a 2005 Austin record show. Contents Are were a garage folk-rock band from Quad City, Iowa that released two good 45’s and this 1967 private press album. It’s remarkable that the band were still in high school when they cut this lp as both the lyrics and musicianship are quite advanced.

In true DIY fashion the band pressed 100 copies of Through You and gave the lp’s away to eager fans who came to Contents Are live events. It’s a solid record to say the least, with influences coming from early Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and Rubber Soul era Beatles. Through You is full of good, 3 minute pop songs and it’s the kind of record that saw the beat/garage and folk-rock sounds merge. One song, Peace At Last, has complex lyrics and a wonderful mid period Beatles-like chorus. No Chance To Choose is another excellent, dark folk-rocker that strongly recalls John Lennon’s Rubber Soul compositions and hints at psychedelia. There are a few hard rocking tracks such as the opening, fuzzy Country Roads but most of this record is predominately folk-rock. Other good standouts are the folk-rock downers Dream Of My Predictions and Reccuring Changes, which feel like lost Gene Clark compositions in lyrical content and sound.

For many the highlight was In Trouble. This track is notable for beautiful back porch harmonies, jangly guitar and a distinct, rural Buffalo Springfield sound. It’s the kind of song that makes searching for private press records worth all the trouble and grief. Through You’s sound quality is a little muddy and probably will not be of interest to those who like clean, sparkling major label glitz. But to those wanting to explore buried local sounds, this is a great record that’s bound to grow on you.

In 2007/2008 Shadoks thankfully released both vinyl and CD versions of this long forgotten album. (therisingstorm.net)

Dave Neumann - vocals, guitar
Paul Staack - vocals, drums
Craig Hute - vocals, guitar
Larry Smith - vocals, bass guitar

Based in Davenport, IA, the Contents Are were a rock band whose music typified the grey zone between the era of garage rock and the dawn of psychedelia; what they were doing was less aggressive and more melodically adventurous than what the average band of high school kids was bashing out back in the day, with some tricky guitar interplay and excellent harmonies, but they hadn't evolved into full-blown lysergic experimentation when they recorded their sole album at Davenport's Fredlo studios in 1967. (Significantly, several members had previously played in a cover band specializing in surf tunes and British Invasion hits.) Lyrically, the Contents Are had moved well beyond the usual "I'm bugged at my girl" stuff in terms of their themes, though the brief descriptions of the songs on the back cover tell you all you need to know -- "No Chance to Choose" concerns "Flower children for freedom vs. the capitalist establishment," "No Need to Be Blamed," is about "People deceived by a greedy, corrupt government," and "In Trouble" sends a message "To the leaders of our country." In short, this ain't "Louie Louie," but Through You shows the Contents Are hadn't quite drifted into the outer stratosphere in the manner of the 13th Floor Elevators and other pioneers of the psychedelic sound, at least not when this was recorded. But there's still some thoroughly enjoyable mid-'60s guitar rock to be found here, and for the CD reissue on Shadoks Music, four songs from early singles have been added as bonus tracks (two of which, "Future Days" and "New Mexico," suggest the boys had picked up a few pointers from the first Moby Grape album) as well as new liner notes from guitarist and songwriter Craig Hute. Given that the original album was supposedly pressed in a run of only 100 copies, this is certainly well worth a listen for fans of Midwest sounds of the '60s who are looking for new obscurities to explore. ~ Mark Deming

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