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GRAVEDIGGER FIVE (Buy CDs by this artist)
All Black and Hairy (Voxx) 1984
The Mirror Cracked (Voxx) 1987

On their first album, this now-defunct San Diego quintet puts down groovy, authentic-sounding (credit the production by label owner Greg Shaw) garage punk with convincing '60s clumsiness and sincerity. Any band that covers a song ("All Black and Hairy") by Screamin' Lord Sutch is already a few rungs up the cool ladder; the Gravediggers further add to the fun with a singer who fairly approximates the legendary T.S. Bonniwell and perfectly evocative arrangements and licks. If All Black and Hairy were 20 years old, it would now be a collectors' item.

Perhaps with that future possibility in mind, the first side of The Mirror Cracked consists of rehearsals and perfectly serviceable outtakes (mostly covers; one track features Paula Pierce of the Pandoras) from All Black and Hairy. The lo-fi live side, from a 1984 gig, repeats three of the same songs, including the title song and the cool prehensile sexism of "Be a Caveman."

[Ira Robbins]