As the Pacific Northwest entry in garage-rock’s second coming, Portland, Oregon’s Miracle Workers looked no further than their own backyard for initial inspiration. Rather than the more psychedelic meanderings of their peers, the original five-piece lineup stomped and snarled through layers of fuzz much like local deities the Sonics and the Wailers. Both of the Miracle Workers’ early EPs boast a heartening percentage of originals — not a majority, mind you, but they were playing to an audience that considered the use of strings manufactured after ’66 heretical — that easily outstrip the group’s covers in both songwriting and energy. Tracks from each (as well as a slew of previously unreleased treasures) are collected on Moxie’s Revenge.
A little more reserved on its 1985 full-length bow, the quintet still scores big, keeping the songs short, the guitars distorted and Gerry Mohr’s snotty adolescent blurt mixed high. Voxx supremo Greg Shaw’s production, while not state-of-the-art (even by these standards) is more sympathetic than their earlier, lower-budget efforts.
As the ’80s drew to a close, the Miracle Workers stepped outside their garage (minus a member), checked their watches not once but twice and stepped firmly forward…into the ’70s. Overdose (recorded in Berlin, though the band is now based in LA) is just that: a sensory overload of attitude-laden rock somewhere between early Flamin Groovies (whose “Teenage Head” gets a speedy snarl-through) and the MC5 (who are no doubt curious as to why no one asked permission to borrow “Kick Out the Jams” for the feral “Rock’n’Roll Revolution in the Streets Part 2”). Guitarist Matt Rogers’ judicious use of feedback augments the new material much more effectively; Mohr’s grown some as well. Live at the Forum scrapes away what little veneer of subtlety finds its way into the group’s studio work; the Iggy/Stooges’ atmosphere is so overpowering you can practically smell the peanut butter! A little time-warped, perhaps, but just plain warped enough to be worth hearing.