[16 May 2008]
The wheels on the “big, blue” hippy bus went round and round as the Contents Are weaved their merry way across Iowa spreading the word of paisley protest. For four years during the ‘60s, the Quad Cities-based quartet created a heady brew of subdued blues beats, catchy psych-pop and tripped-out folk that sugar-coated the hardcore messages which lurked beneath the 13 original tunes on 1967’s Through You. The Contents Are’s songs weren’t all filled with cotton candy clouds floating in a marshmallow sky but dealt with more serious issues including a very bleak view of modern democracy (“Peace At Last”) set to a tune that borrows from the Beatles “Dr. Robert”, a hook-laden wake-up call to the U.S. government (“In Trouble”) that, some would say, is still relevant today, and the ever-present nuclear threat (“If You’re Relaxing”). This previously hard-to-find (only 100 copies were pressed and sold at gigs) regional gem is bolstered by the band’s two excellent, and not quite so hard-to-find, singles. The best of these sides, “Future Days”, is a piece of moody, early psych-blues that sounds like it hails from the dark side of Haight-Ashbury and, even with the poor audio quality, is alone worth the price of admission to this particular band’s garage.