October 2007

The Grip Weeds - House of Vibes Revisited
Ground Up Records GUCD 5756 4
Format: CD
Originally released: 1994
Reissue released: 2007

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment *****

I knew House of Vibes Revisited was a reissue when I played it through the first time, but it wouldn’t have surprised me to learn it was first released in 1967 rather than 1994, when it debuted. The Grip Weeds, a New Jersey power-pop quartet, recorded House of Vibes in a studio the band put together in an old house in Highland Park. In the ensuing years the band built a more technologically advanced studio in a house across town. They used this new technology to give House of Vibes Revisited a more polished sound than the original. They’ve also added 13 bonus tracks, including interviews with band members, demos, and live tracks.

The original 12 tracks on House of Vibes Revisited show a striking command of late-'60s rock‘n’roll. The songs cover a lot of ground, from the raging guitar rock of "Out of Today" and the Who-ish "Someone" to the acoustic pop of "Realize" and "Always Come." The songs are wonderfully melodic and feature complex, densely constructed harmony vocals that invite comparisons to the Mamas and the Papas or the Left Banke (a particularly strong influence, at least to my ears). Instruments and vocals are cleanly separated in this remaster, and the bonus tracks demonstrate that the band was able to re-create live the magic they created in the studio.

Considering the DIY source of the recording, House of Vibes Revisited is sonically impressive -- it’s an honest, undoctored recording. It’s easily my pick for reissue of the year and, along with Richard X. Heyman’s Actual Sighs, it’s the most impassioned rock‘n’roll I’ve heard in a long time.