BY FRED MILLS
Although Tucson’s garage-shock maestros the Marshmallow Overcoat have apparently hung up their fuzz boxes—but not before celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2011 with a sprawling 6CD box set and digital releases of all their albums—fans get one final encore via this beautiful double album, a gatefold sleeved affair pressed on cloudburst orange and blue vinyl. Less an epitaph than a fitting celebration of what turned out to be a pretty fine run (how many groups to you know lasted a quarter century and still managed to sound vital at the end of that tenure?), The Very Best Of makes a solid case for this group being one of America’s—hell, the planet’s!—best-ever second-generation garage/psych combos.
Frontman Tim Gassen debuted his band back in ’86 with the “Groovy Little Trip” 45, its primitive thump, distorto guitar and teen-snot vocal yowlp instantly announcing that these musical troglodytes knew their Nuggets and their Pebbles up one side and down the other. That track leads off the set here, and it’s a groovy little trip indeed you’re pulled into. From jangly gems like “Suddenly Sunday” and the baroque, organ-fueled pop of “Echoes in Time”; through minor-chord creepathons like the gotta-hear-each-Halloween “The Mummy” and the even darker, Doorsian “Dia De Los Muertos”; to such edge-of-insanity fuzz-and-tremolo raveups as “The Knights of Fuzz” (also the title of Gassen’s exhaustive history/encyclopedia of psych and garage bands) and “Your Love”: one could take this collection to a remote South Pacific island and feel secure in the knowledge that you had an entire musical genre covered for your collection in exile.
Throw in some choice covers including (speaking of whom) The Doors’ “You’re Lost Little Girl,” Love’s “A House Is Not A Motel” and The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” along with sundry tips o’ the hat to many more artists that Gassen & Co. revere, and that desert island disc factor gets ramped up even higher. Whether operating as the Marshmallow Overcoat or simply, for a period, as The Overcoat, this was and remains a legend of the Old Pueblo, and I’m proud to have called myself a fan from the very early days. May their music forever melt in our minds, not in our hands…
DOWNLOAD: “The Knights of Fuzz,” “Beverly Pepper,” “Suddenly Sunday,” “Psilocybin Explosion,” “Dia De Los Muertos”