by Terry Atkinson
issued on Los Angeles Times
It was the '60s again Monday night at the Starwood, and one's appreciation of
the show by two local bands, Jon & the Nightriders and the Unclaimed, greatly depended on
how much one might like '60s rock to return in fairly pristine form.
If there are enough surf-rock devotees around in the near future to get a revival of that style snowballing, Jon & the Nightriders should be at the forefront of the movement. This instrumental quartet captures the early-'60s sound of the Ventures and Dick Dale with accuracy and a feeling born of true fandom.
The band performed fine versions of standards like
varying the old arrangements little except for faster-than-usual tempos. There were also a few
originals, written by lead guitarist John Blair, but even these sounded as if they could have
been obscure Ventures tracks.
Missing from this particular show were the surf films the group usually uses as a backdrop, but lots of movement and audience contact from the bassist and rhythm guitarist kept visual values high. The real total audiovisual package of the night, however, came via the Unclaimed. The quintet plays in a style that evokes psychedelic-era bands like Music Machine, Chocolate Watch Band and the Seeds - and it dresses to match. Particularly striking anachronisms: the lead singer's rampant Prince Valiant hairdo, the bassist's rose-lenses granny glasses.
Musically, the group also hits the properly nostalgic note. Each song, whether original or an obscure '60s tune, has that proto-punk mixture of crudity and corniness.
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