EXCLUSIVE: Forgotten Pennsylvania bands get new life on 'Devil Dancers' compilation album

  Courtesy Image

Courtesy Image

You may not be familiar with The King's Ransom, The Flares or The Scott Bedford Four.

The two men behind online live music program "Tape Swap Radio" are hoping the new 23-track compilation album Devil Dancers will jog your memory.

"Tape Swape Radio" recently published Devil Dancers: Pennsylvania Bands of the 1960s, which is available on the show's Soundcloud account. Boasting garage rock, "psych rock" and "jangly rock" bands from throughout the region, Devil Dancers includes cuts that were only previously available on limited-run release and unreleased songs that were culled from the original acetates and reel-to-reels. The songs were digitized and remastered at the Shards recording studio in SouthSide Bethlehem.

The name of the album was derived from Stroudsburg-based band The Devils and their single "Do the Devil Dance," according to an email. The collection was originally curated by WDIY radio personality/music collector Neil Hever and released in 1984 on cassette. (The compilation was split into two volumes.)

Hever, in the email, said the goal of the original release was to capture the sound of as many local and regional bands who were ignored or overlooked on the compilation albums Pennsylvania Unknowns (from 1982) and Return of the Young Pennsylvanians. (Other compilations, such as Garage Punk Unknowns and Back from the Grave, contained some Pennsylvania acts, but were not themed to the state.) In particular, he wanted to include such area heavy-hitters as The King's Ransom, The Scott Bedford Four and The Shillings.

The aforementioned bands are joined on the album by The Rockets, The Bucaneers, The Starlites, The Flares and The Undesyded, among others.

In the email, "Tape Swap Radio" co-founder Shamus McGroggan called the Devil Dancers album a "gold mine of rare, local music." The songs that make up the album are a snapshot of the psychedelic and garage rock-inspired movements of the mid- and late-1960s.

"I would put the songs on here by bands like The Scott Bedford Four and The Razor's Edge up there with The Sonics and other garage rock greats of that era," he said. "They are groups who were good and, sadly, are not well-known outside of a few hardcore collectors."

"Tape Swap Radio" is a live music series taped at Shards. The sessions are later broadcast online, as well as on WDIY. (Bethlehem-based WDIY is an affiliate of National Public Radio.)

The show, which spotlights local artists and bands coming through the area, has presented several local concerts at the Charles A. Brown Ice House in Bethlehem.

Here is the full track listing for Devil Dancers:

  1. "You Turned Your Back on Me," The Scott Bedford Four
  2. "Do the Devil Dance," The Devils
  3. "Gotta Find Her," The Razor's Edge
  4. "Lying and Trying," The Shillings
  5. "Children and Flowers," The Shillings
  6. "Find Somebody to Love," The Bitter End
  7. "Shame," The King's Ransom
  8. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," The King's Ransom
  9. "Charmaine," Frantic Freddie
  10. "She Doesn't Love Me Anymore," The Nu-Coachmen
  11. "Lucky in the Morning," Illusions
  12. "Barney Buss," The Young Ideas
  13. "My Sad Story," The Flowerz
  14. "I Found a New Love," Ognir and the Nite People
  15. "Just Like That," The Devils
  16. "You're Never Gonna Love Me," The Bucaneers
  17. "What'd I Say?" The Rockets
  18. "I Need You," The Undesyded
  19. "Freedom of Love," The Undesyded
  20. "Be Careful, Little Girl," The Fenways
  21. "Set Me Free," The Starlites
  22. "Last Exit to Brooklyn," The Scott Bedford Four
  23. "I Found Out," The Flares

McGroggan and co-founder Matthew Ryan Molchany said in the email they are hoping to track down surviving members of the bands featured on the Devil Dancers compilation. They can be reached at info@tapeswaperadio.com.