I have to say the packaging for this edition surprised me-in a good way. The two discs slip inside cardboard envelopes, and the outer, lidded box is a heavy cardboard, with a cool photo of the band on the front, and complete track listings on the back. The 53 (!) page booklet has a long essay on the band, their music, and the era. Also included are many period photographs-posed and on stage, posters advertising gigs, and record labels of the band's singles. There's also a list of band members for both THE COACHMEN and THE MOVING SIDEWALKS. The sound is pretty good-except for the obvious background noise on one track. This set was produced by Billy Gibbons and James Austin-so there's some assurance that this wasn't just thrown together. There's a few tunes that are worth more than 3 "stars"-everybody will have their favorites-especially (like me) if you like this era of music, so this probably floats somewhere between 3 and 4 "stars" for the best tunes.
The original album "Flash", is an early example of Texas psychedelic/blues/rock. This isn't ZZ TOP. It's Billy Gibbons-with some of his trademark sound already in place-expanding and morphing into the player he became in ZZ TOP. There's a lot of Texas garage band style songs, along with some sound affects, and one tune that is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix ("Pluto-Sept. 31st"),-Hendrix had heard Gibbons and had good things to say about his playing, and there's a photo in the booklet of Hendrix with THE MOVING SIDEWALKS. "Eclipse" is psychedelic music then popular-with it's backwards vocals. But other tunes like "Flashback", "You Don't Know The Life", and a few others are pretty cool for the era.
"Joe Blues" is just that-7 1/2 minutes that gives Gibbons a chance to show his blues guitar credentials. Gibbons guitar sounds similar to Dave Edmunds' guitar on the first LOVE SCULPTURE album ("Blues Helping"), so if you've heard that album you know what to expect. If you haven't-check out this trio's exciting, in your face sound, plus some good slow blues. And yes, there's a squeak in the background that shouldn't be there, but the track is still enjoyable for early Gibbons blues guitar.
The second disc is made up of Singles and many unreleased tracks from both bands. The first 11 tracks are by THE MOVING SIDEWALKS, and the final 4 are by THE COACHMEN-check out the 1966 photo of the band on stage with a go-go girl out front doing her thing. Singles include "99th Floor", "What Are You Going To Do", "Need Me", "Every Night A New Surprise", and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". There's also a number of unreleased and/or alternate recordings ("What Are You Going To Do", "Every Night A New Surprise", "Flashback"), along with a pretty cool unreleased instrumental, "Headin' Out".
The tracks by THE COACHMEN are all unreleased, and show Gibbons and the other band members at an earlier stage of development. These tracks are okay, but are worth hearing for their early period sound. These track were produced by THE COACHMEN, and there's two members that moved with Gibbons onto THE MOVING SIDEWALKS-Dan Mitchell/drums, and Kelly Parker/keyboards.
In the end, there's nothing especially startling here-just some pretty cool Texas psych/rock/blues from two young bands from the period. Fans (like me) of late 60's/early 70's bands will probably like this. That unmistakeable sound from that era is all over these tracks. And having a chance to hear Billy Gibbons early on, makes this set worthwhile. All in all, pretty good period sound, a bunch of Singles and unreleased tracks, and a thick, informative booklet, with a lot of great photographs, make this something fans should check out.