EXHUMED: Twitch 'Dark Years' LP

posted Thursday Mar 17th, 2016

Continuing their campaign in issuing the complete catalog of unheard Canadian combo Twitch—following an incendiary 2012 7” EP collecting two 100-press, self-released 1973 singles of hard psych, greasy biker rock, late period folk-rock and mock-country/psych-fuzz into one handsome package—Supreme Echo offers up Twitch’s 1974, live-in-the-garage recordings culled from extant eight-tracks and reel-to-reel tapes based around an occult “rock opera”, which leans hard into the bonehead crunch zone of proto-metal /proto-punk. Hailing from the blustery environs of British Columbia, the members of the Twitch trio (sometimes quartet) came together in 1971 after individually traversing the rock’n’roll continuum from Beatles-alikes to frat stompers, into Brit pop/psych and the sounds displayed on their first two slabs spinning at forty-five revolutions. Taking cues from the horrorshow theatricality of Alice Cooper, in ‘73 the group re-cast themselves in part glitter rock garb, part prescient caked-on black metal-type makeup (with nods to Ms. Cooper)—at the time when contemporaneous future stars KISS were just making their way into the Bowery—which when combined with their long hair, mustachioed faces and elaborate stage show that included occult antics, fake blood, incantations, smoking crosses, cauldrons, torches and fog effects was a quite a sight to behold. Far ahead their time aesthetically, during this period they shared stages with other Northwestern iconoclasts/weirdos in Ze Whiz Kids (with a pre-Screamers Tomata Du Plenty), Mikl Body Rock (with the infamous Jon Mikl Thor) and glam-pop wonders Sweeney Todd.

The Dark Years begins strong with the brutal, metallic, pulsating "Litany to Raise the Dead," one of the most realized and fleshed-out tracks on the set—including the most accomplished lyrically—while “I Am the Wizard” is perhaps a bit too lyrically on-the-nose, but plays like denim delinquent yoofs exercising a fascination with the dark side and carries a charming private-press quality, as does the closing ballad in ode to a fallen Salem witch (“Jessica”). Of the quick in-and-out seven tracks issued, over half provide a straight, chugging, heavy rock’n’roll/proto-punk sound, with Chuck Berry-infused leads and some glammy vocal touches—“Satan’s Blood,” “Vaseline,” “Roaring Drunk,” “Sweet Baby C.T.” (the latter a standout of gutter-bound boogie/punk rock’n’roll akin to the Dead Boys)—perhaps learned from their crowd-pleasing cover repertoire that included Coop, Sabb, the Stones, Bowie and Mott.

While lacking in fidelity in places and overall quite lo-fi, Dark Years both stands head-and-shoulders above similar efforts by Rave-Up sonically and in attention to detail. Expanding on the workmanlike history of the group which was included in the EP, this set includes a partly colored—sadly not all, as the photos are a stone gas—10-pg. 8 ½ x 11 insert charting the history of the band through ’75, with hints to their future days as early punk scene contenders through ’78 (another path poised to be blazed by the folks at Supreme Echo). Overall an ambitious and stunning set of music from an undiscovered early light in underground North American (and specifically Canadian) heavy music, recommended to folks keen on the heavier side of glam, metalheads and those searching for the crumbs that led to the big punk feast.

Check out a soundcloud sampler here, and pick up the LP wherever fine records are sold, or direct from Supreme Echo right HERE.