Menster Phip and the Phipsters

  • Menster Phip and the Phipsters
  • Phip City! (Telstar) 1993 

This humble, almost-lost classic offers conclusive proof that you don’t need a budget — or even much talent — to make timelessly great rock’n’roll. In their parents’ basement in suburban Fairlawn, New Jersey, during the early ’60s, Kenny Collins, his brother Richie and various friends and relatives pounded out rudimentary but undeniably infectious rock with their loosely constructed “band,” Menster Phip and the Phipsters, recording delirious originals (“Daddy Wants a Cold Beer,” “Sing a Song All Day Long”), surreal-to-the-point-of-unrecognizability covers (“Land of 1,000 Dances,” “I Saw Her Standing There”) and even a bogus commercial for Great Shakes (remember them?) on a two-track reel-to-reel deck for their own amusement. Though the group never performed publicly or released any recordings in its lifetime, tapes eventually found their way to Hoboken’s Telstar label, which redressed history’s injustice by releasing a 20-song collection as Phip City!. While Collins and friends show little in the way of conventional musical ability, their abundant spirit more than compensates, making these genuine basement tapes a triumph of enthusiasm over technique.

[Scott Schinder]