The Chocolate Watchband was a psychedelic and garage rock band that got their start in San Jose, California in 1965. There was also a band named The Chocolate Watch Band, from London, UK. This is a review of the American band. They went through numerous band member changes and had an interesting, if not confusing early history. The Small Faces and the Rolling Stones were big influences on the band, and there are some of their songs sounded almost exactly like The Stones, at least to me. At times, lead singer’s David Aguilar’s voice sounded almost identical to Mick Jagger, whether he intended it to or not. Melts In Your Brain…Not On Your Wrist! is a compilation record spanning their entire recorded works, and it is outstanding, if not confusing. Should you really want to get an education on the band, it would be a good idea to read along the song listings and liner notes, to truly get an idea of just what you are listening to.
As stated before, there are so many lineup changes and recordings with different musicians, some band members, and some not, that it is a compilation that sounds at times like it is a mixed jumble of different bands entirely. But for me the best songs on the compilation are the one’s that are lead by David Aguilar’s vocals. This is the best sound the band has, but all the songs on this record are really good, with a mix of garage rock, and psychedelia. One of their more recognisable songs is the Bob Dylan cover of Baby Blue, where Aguilar sounds like Jagger, just close your eyes and you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Check out this video from the 1967 movie Riot On Sunset Strip, where The Chocolate Watchband performs Don’t Need Your Lovin’, and where you get a good look at David Aguilar, and his unmistakable Jagger sounding vocals. What a great look back on the sixties and the counterculture era!
Many of the songs on the compilation are covers, and all are done well. This is another example of a talented group of musicians that let in fighting and management issues curtail what could have become a great career. For a detailed history of the band, visit here.
A Stone’s influenced song on the record, in both vocals and guitar work, is Sweet Young Thing. When listening to this song, up against Paint It Black by the Stones, the similarities are apparent. Gone And Passes By is yet another Stones sounding gem, that starts off with the psychedelic sound of the Indian instrument, the sitar, that was prevalent in the sixties.
While I think the best songs by the Chocolate Watchband are with the vocals of Mark Aguilar, giving it that Stones feel, there are many other great songs on the compilation. Let’s Talk About Girls, Gossamer Wings, Uncle Morris and many others, are awesome tunes in their own right, even with the difference in musicians and singers. This compilation has 43 songs on 2 cd’s, and is a collector’s favorite. Given the fact that there is a lot of great music, and a lot of interesting history, it is well worth a listen.