Vinyl-a-Day 24: Mouse And The Traps - The Fraternity Years: 1965-1978 (Big Beat Records, 2013)
Okay, so you love Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde.” You had the “Thing Wild Mercury Music” bootleg and devoured “The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966.” What if there was more Dylan *sound* from the same era? Well, if you don’t already know, tonight I’m going to talk about my favorite Dylan soundalike: Mouse and the Traps. Ronnie “Mouse” Weiss and the Traps emerged from Tyler, TX. They recorded a series of singles between 1965 and 1969, several of which were regional successes. Though the group possessed a rollicking, garage-rock sound that could give many of their contemporaries a run for their money (See their cover of “Psychotic Reaction” and the original “Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice”), but their biggest hit was a knockout Dylan knockoff called “A Public Execution.” Other great Dylan-esque tracks are “Sometime You Just Can’t Win,” “Nobody Cares,” “I Am the One,” “Like I Know You Do,” and “Do the Best You Can (Honestly, though, they were pretty skilled imitators of any sound. See also: the Beatles style “I Got Her Love”) Of course, this was a time when it was much easier to trick listeners into thinking they were hearing a new Dylan cut when they could not easily verify with a quick Google search. The dead giveaway, though, is that Mouse and the Traps’ Dylan-style tunes are actually TOO polished and TOO on the nose. At that time, Dylan was a wheel on fire, rolling through a period of frenzied creativity which, though groundbreaking, had plenty of imperfections in the recordings that Dylan never bothered to fix. As Nuggets compiler Lenny Kaye wrote in his liner notes, "There are some who say that Mouse does Dylan's Highway 61 period better than the Master himself” - and that’s true! It’s what Dylan would have done if they’d gone back to smooth it all out.