Album Cover
Various Artists
Cambodian Rocks
Parallel World
July 22, 1996


This new disc compiles twenty two tracks of Cambodian rock from the late sixties and early seventies. That there even was a Cambodian rock scene comes as a shock. That it was apparently so vibrant is amazing. The box promises, "you'll hear echoes of Jimi, Janis, Seeds, Them and S.F. acid." Hendrix and Joplin may sell records, but I don't hear it. Track 5 has a solo reminiscent of Santana. Track 8 sounds like James Brown funneled through the Doors. Track 16 almost has the intro from Sympathy for the Devil. Track 13 has the same chord progression as "Gloria", but otherwise, the relevant reference is the Seeds. Many of the songs feature a guitar/organ setup, reminding of Music Machine and ? and the Mysterians. (Why not put them on the case? Sean Bonniwell is way cooler than Janis Joplin.) Basically, this is seventy minutes of prime mid-sixties-style garage rock. With some decidedly Cambodian melodies. This is Nuggets, dubbed.

The songs can be broken up into two rough categories: garage rockers, and garage rockers with traditional-sounding high-pitched female vocals. And the selling point of any primitive rock is it's sincere energy. And these burn with a raw vitality that transcends the simple songs and occasionally simple playing.

It is disappointing that the packaging is not more extensive. A booklet with photos and an essay would have been a godsend. Hell, it would be nice to have a list of artists and song titles. Maybe these are lost in the mists of time. They would sure make it easier to talk about. At least the music remains. The only thing lacking for this to be a true revelation is some Keiji Haino/Mizutani Takashi-style guitar craziness. Track 11 even has a Rallizes Denudes-esque perverted-Motown bass riff. Actually, this sounds very much like the contemporaneous Group Sound Japanese rock scene that spawned those guys. You know, the Jacks; like that.

This is real rock and roll. Front to back, its great. Thanks to Parallel World for compiling it. We hope this is only the beginning.

Pat Jackson

Track List

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