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TELL-TALE HEARTS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Tell-Tale Hearts (Voxx) 1984
The "Now" Sound of the Tell-Tale Hearts EP (Voxx) 1985

The old quote about those who fail to learn the lessons of history has evidently been taken to heart by this nostalgic San Diego quintet. Having absorbed the sounds of such '60s beat and punk innovators as the Animals, Georgie Fame, Them, the Yardbirds, Syndicate of Sound and a dozen others, they regurgitate carefully crafted originals that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. (A fondness for Chicago blues adds an appropriate twist to the band's stylistic arsenal.) Singer Ray Brandes' anguished passion, Bill Calhoun's atmospheric organ and Eric Bacher's spectacular raveup guitar work all make the debut album a genre (this one, not that one) classic; the better-recorded six-song EP is equally energetic and (superficially speaking) exciting. Genealogical footnote: bassist Mike Stax was a former member of the Crawdaddys.

[Ira Robbins]