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Red Squares

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The streets of London and most of the rest of the Sceptered Isle may have seemed as though they were paved with gold, at least to outsiders, but by 1964 there were literally thousands of bands competing for the attention of club owners, record company executives, et al. A number of British bands, recognizing that there was demand for their sound and a living to be made outside of England, took the plunge -- the Rokes went off to Italy, the Liverpool Five headed for Asia and then the United States, and the Red Squares took off for Denmark. Formed in Boston, England, in 1964, the Red Squares were almost a retro outfit, emphasizing harmony vocals along the lines of the early Beach Boys, the Four Seasons, and the Tokens, with falsetto leads and a strong emphasis on covers of early-'60s material. Dave "Geordie" Garriock was the lead singer, but lead guitarist Ronnie Martin also handled harmonies, as did bassist Pete Mason, while Mick Rothwell (guitar) and Michael "Rik" Maloney (drums) were the non-singing members of the quintet. Finding the competition in England a little too steep -- what with better established groups like the Fortunes already laying claim to the audience for that brand of harmony vocal-based pop/rock -- the group pulled up stakes and headed for Denmark in early 1966, where there was a good deal of demand for British bands, and where early-'60s American sounds weren't considered as out-of-step as they were in England. They became stars there, hitting number one with their cover of the Four Seasons' "Sherry" and cutting an entire LP. By the middle of the year, they'd also begun experimenting with harder sounds in the instrumental department. Casting an eye back toward London, they generated a single worthy of the Who in the guise of "You Can Be My Baby" (co-authored by Ronnie Martin), which sounded as majestically overamplified and punkishly chaotic as anything coming from Mssrs. Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey, and Moon; significantly, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Who (and particularly Keith Moon) also counted the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean among their favorite bands, so perhaps this single wasn't as much of a stretch as it might seem at first glance (or listen). In any case, this one foray into proto-psychedelic garage punk got the Red Squares a berth on Rhino Records' Nuggets II in the summer of 2001, and the biggest exposure they ever got in the United States or anywhere else much farther than the borders of Denmark. ~ Bruce Eder

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