The Matadors – Get Down From The Tree! (Munster Records)

The Matadors were a Czechoslovakian beat group best known for “Get Down From The Tree” from the Nuggets II box-set, the bible for garage and psych aficionados. Never one of the leading lights of the mid-’60s European rock scene, the group had a few things working for them and a few things working against them. On the plus side is guitarist Radim Hladik, whose fuzz-tone stung harder than most and is enjoyable to listen to throughout the twenty-four songs collected on Get Down From The Tree! Their keyboard player also does a nice job of straddling the line between frat-band slop-rock chords and Floyd-esque psychedelic texturing. On the flip-side, The Matadors didn’t have a strong songwriter in the group, and singer Vladimir Misik sounds downright silly with his strong Czech accent, tenuous grasp on the English language (a song titled “Hate Everything Except Of Hatter” says it all) and tendency to over-sing. He’s unconvincing as a sleazy blues-growler on a cover of Willie Dixon’s “You’ll Be Mine” and his attempts at sounding like Eric Burdon fall well short of the mark. If you’re an obsessive garage/psych collector type, there’s probably nothing I can say to stop you from picking this up; but for those with a little more quality control, everything you need from The Matadors can be found on Nuggets II.