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Taz: Wake Up & Sweat, Vol 1/Shipwrecked, Vol 2
Taz, Wake Up & Sweat, Vol 1 Album Art

Taz: Wake Up & Sweat, Vol 1

Melodic Hard Rock
4.0/5.0

Taz, Wake Up & Sweat, Vol 1, Shipwrecked, Vol 2, Album Art

Taz: Shipwrecked, Vol 2

Melodic Hard Rock
4.0/5.0

Once more we explore of the depths the classic rock vault, thanks to the work of Stephen Craig and Eonian Records to find Southern California band Taz. The origins of Taz date to 1983 and the band Manic Thrust created by Ethan Gladstone (g), Kent (K.K.) Kleven (v) with Neil Carlson (b) and Mike Downey (d). Over two years the band would play the SoCal club circuit, with a revolving door of bass and drum players. In 1985, they changed their name to Tazz (from the cartoon character), then eventually reducing it to simply Taz.

Taz - Click For Larger Image

Taz: circa 1985

Taz would develop with additional players until it was eventually a five member, twin guitar band, yet with Gladstone and Kleven at the core. In 1986, Taz would begin four years of recording original material in a bevy of renowned studios (The Hanger 14, Monterey Sound, et al). All the while, the band would continue to tour the club circuits, even expanding into the Southwest.

Known for their dynamic stage shows, Taz had a devoted following, peer appreciation, and kudos from the press. But they never got a record contract, which was not an uncommon event back then. Still recording in 1990, Taz's days would soon be cut short by the rise of the modern Grunge movement. Even so, Taz and their catalog of music is a fine representation of that classic rock era of Sunset Strip melodic hard rock. Which leads us to consider the music within the two compilations, Wake Up & Sweat and Shipwrecked.


Taz, Wake Up & Sweat Album Art

The tunes within Wake Up & Sweat were recorded between 1986 and 1989. The volume gets its title from the sessions of the same name at the Monterey Sound Studios in Glendale. Perhaps the first observation I would make of these songs, especially the seven recordings from 1986, is that Taz had a raw, almost stripped down, punkish garage rock sound. But they were also working to hone their craft. On this disc you'll find two different versions of two of their most popular songs: She Does Bad Things and Love Violation. The changes are both nuanced and notable within both songs. I enjoyed both versions, maybe leaning more to the second incarnation of each. But, fundamentally, Taz was pushing their music in the direction of riff ripping, big beat, melodic hard rock with roaring guitar solos and that street-wise groove. Notable songs to fit this include Political Song, Bad Religion, and Tattoo You.

Taz, Shipwrecked Vol 2 Album Art

With the second volume, Shipwrecked, Taz was near the sunset of their musical run. This compilation is in three parts: studio recordings (1-4), live rehearsal recordings (5-12), and live performances at the venues Whiskey A Go-Go, Sasch, and the famous Gazzarri's in West Hollywood. With the first two parts, you'll find that Taz has settled into their own musical groove. The music, while similar to the time, shows maturity and consistency in craftsmanship.

However, there seems to be a canine theme here with Desert Dog Night, Day Of The Dog, and Dogtown. Not sure what the connection is but all the songs rock. One song really stands out from the bunch. Day In, Day Out (Keep The Faith) with it's sharp riffs, fine gang vocal harmony, and a memorable refrain, the song could have been radio friendly, arena ready, hit single.

Taz - Click For Larger Image

Taz: circa 1988

As for the live performances, I found them to be energetic, the band firing on all cylinders, with unusually good sound quality. Excepting LA Danger Zone, another popular Taz song, the rest are new songs. Easy Come Easy Go and Shoot Your Steam are fast and heavy, raucous tunes. Alternatively, Let It Rain has something of a bluesy feel and Cover Me In Roses perhaps a heavy anthem (rather than a ballad).



Most things considered, this two volume collection from SoCal's Taz displays a band with their finger on the pulse of the Eighties music scene and a passion to write and perform songs of the same in their own style. The Taz story is also a glimpse into that era as whole, when it was soaring high with success, yet on the cusp to being nearly extinct. If you're a fan of classic rock from some great times, you will enjoy's Taz's two volume compilation, Wake Up & Sweat and Shipwrecked. As always, each disc contains a bountiful 20 page booklet complete with band info and history, photos, concert flyers, and recording details.



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The Take Away

This two volume collection from SoCal's Taz displays a band with their finger on the pulse of the Eighties music scene and a passion to write and perform songs of the same in their own style. If you're a fan of classic rock from some great times, you will enjoy Taz's two volume compilation, Wake Up & Sweat and Shipwrecked.

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