16 Pounds of R&B, of the Wild Cherries, is the missing piece in the rock’s puzzle
A simple association of related words with Chuck Berry (Buck Cherry – Black Cherries) results in the Wild Cherries. At the end of the 60s, Australia was witnessing this band’s emergence that wrapped up the rock of the Kinks and the garage of The Pretty Things, but without forfeiting the R&B landscapes that filled their songs. 16 Pounds of R&B released by Groovie Records is, in fact, a quintessential jewel for any collector.
At that time, the Bee Gees stood as the most popular music product of Australia. Despite the strong diplomatic relations with other members of the English language, the geographical isolation did not concede a fair visibility to underground bands. The sound of The Wild Cherries was considered barren and unconventional for marketing purposes and, therefore, the release of 16 Pounds Of R&B marks a secluded generation of garage, R&B and Australian punk.
The first line-up emerged among students of architecture of the University of Melbourne in 1964, with Jon Bastow on vocals, Les Gilbert on bass, Rob Lovett on rhythm guitar, Malcolm McGee on lead guitar and Geoff Halles as the drummer. After Les Gilbert quit to join the Loved Ones, the band became a quartet, arriving in 1967 with the release of the known track That’s Life.
Even though the sound extravaganza can be acknowledged, the tracks are in charge of providing frantic, electric moments, yet depleted of more aggressive chords. They are songs that walk around progressive guitars, where garage rock rejoices with dancing harmonies and brutish choruses – as one can listen to in Bye Bye Bird – and rhythmic variations occupied by the presence of a dense bass guitar. Without You it introduces itself mellowly, with ever-growing hooky riffs, properly standing its ground for what is about to come in the following tracks. The Wild Cherries also released their version of Tobacco Road (this compilation has two versions), an original song of John D. Loudermilk, interpreted by many composers – with the Nashville Teens version being the most popular – of the 60s.
The Wild Cherries are the perfect example of the fact that there are still well-hidden treasures in the chronology of 60s music. 16 Pounds Of R&B is a chapter of history that could have remained unknown, however this edition is an essential piece for the Australian rock songbook. The discovery of this album is inevitably a journey of convergence rock, where the unbridled spirit of punk flows into garage’s electricity and the melodic tones of the blues.