Recording information: Parlophone Music, Sweden AB (1964-1968).
Sweden in the mid- to late '60s was a hotbed of musical activity. As documented on the 1984 collection Searchin' for Shakes, the scene was packed with really strong bands. Bands like Tages, the Namelosers, the Lee Kings, and Mascots stacked up well with any country's best post-beat group rockers. Since that album came out there have been reissues of various Swedish groups of the era, but until 2016's Svenska Shakers there hasn't been a collection that does as fine a job of surveying the Swedish scene between 1964 and 1968. Like the subtitle says, the bands included run the gamut from R&B shakers, mod movers, freakbeat crashers, and psych-pop dreamers, each of them represented by their best tunes. There is a little bit of overlap with Searchin' for Shakes, but that's fine. There are enough tracks spread over the two discs to satisfy the curiosity of any nugget-seeking '60s music buff. The Lee Kings and Tages are the best of the lot, checking in with a couple tracks each, including the former's classic mod rocker "On My Way." The rest of the collection unearths enough gems to make it worth its weight in krona. Highlights include John Julian & Curt G?rans' Hollies-esque "Misery Is Such a Mystery," Annaabee-Nox's dreamily psychedelic ballad "Always on My Mind," Science Poption's psych-pop confection "You've Got Me High," Shakers' "All I Want Is My Baby," and the Namelosers' storming rocker "Do-Ao." The first disc focuses a bit too much on the groups' sometimes tame attempts at blues (Shakers' cover of "Hoochie Coochie Man" sounds cute instead of tough, for example), but even then the energy the bands bring to the already hoary old songs helps keep them afloat. The couple of weak spots don't change the fact that Svenska Shakers is an essential piece of '60s archaeology, filled with great songs and bands that will reward further investigation. ~ Tim Sendra