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Schibbinz - Liviní Free

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Artist: Schibbinz

Album: Liviní Free

Label: Guerssen

Review date: Mar. 5, 2010

The continued excavation of music history around the world has unearthed a seemingly endless procession of reissued rarities, with results both good and bad. As the saying goes, 90 percent of everything is crap, and thus it stands to reason that nine out of every 10 rediscovered "lost masterpieces" is going to be a disappointment. In the case of Liviní Free weíve got some tracks which are undeniably impressive, but as a whole, this rarity isnít going to spark any great revelations.

Recorded in 1967 by a group of U.S. and Argentinean teenagers, and released in Argentina the following year, the songs on Liviní Free would fit perfectly on a volume of Nuggets. Bright melodies and jangly guitars rule the day, and while the albumís descriptions call it "garage folk-rock," thereís really nothing particularly garage about it. These were teens familiar with the eraís dreamy acoustic artists, and while they do a fine job emulating the style, the results are, at times, thin and derivative.

The four friends, hanging out at the Academia Arguello school, formed the band to play local school events, playing covers of the era while writing their own songs. Influenced by the albums they could obtain in Argentina, the school friends recorded Liviní Free at several locations in single takes with no overdubs.

The four-part vocal harmonies are the keys to these songs. They make the title track a highlight, clearly influenced by the American west coastís psych-folk groups. "Liviní Free," "In Sunshine and In Shadow," and "Look at My Friend" are all reminiscent of the Byrds and the Monkees.

Thereís an unusual low-fi feel to these recordings that, while sometimes lending the songs a gauzy mystery, ultimately does the music a disservice. The clip-clop percussion and strummed guitar of "Go Softly, Now" sound like they were recorded from the opposite end of a large room, while the vocals are thin and weak even as they sometimes threaten to break into static. "The Ring of Bright Water" is pleasant folk music, but sounds like itís being played on a radio in a large room. Rather than imbuing a dreamy atmosphere, it simply takes away from the power that the vocal harmonies -- the groupís real strength -- could have had.

The group indulge in a number of covers, including the Stonesí "Lady Jane" and a nicely-executed Morricone-esque take on "Ghost Riders in the Sky." The three bonus tracks include a muddy recording of "Gloria" and an ill-advised version of the lounge-jazz chestnut "Blue Moon." The bonus tracks, not included on the vinyl edition, can be safely missed.

Schibbinz assembled a fine album in 1967, with some strong songs demonstrating that the four teenagers had good ears for the sounds of their time and undeniable writing skills. Nonetheless, Liviní Free is inconsistent and only intermittently rewarding. Thereís just no escaping the sense that rarity has contributed overly to the albumís reputation.

By Mason Jones

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