Posts Tagged ‘The Blue Magoos’

In a year studded with all-out rock masterpieces The Stones “Aftermath”, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, The Beatles with “Revolver”,  and Bob Dylan’s Double album Classic “Blonde on Blonde”  a grungier rock offshoot of the genre was also reaching an apex.

Garage rock, which has existed since rock & roll’s advent, and will probably always exist, had exactly one year when it was a national driving force. Meaning, when you could be a teenager living under your parents’ roof, team up with some of your friends and force your way into a trend that had hit-making ramifications.

The Shadows of Knight, a band from Chicago, helped get everything rolling with their cover of Them’s “Gloria,” a hit at the end of 1965. even today, if you hear a version of the song on the radio, it’s probably the Knights version, which led to the band cutting their first long-player in March 1966, a shot heard round the carport world.

The album, of course, was named for its big hit, and Gloria was as apt a garage-rock tutorial as you’ll find.  Strangely charming, earnest and sounding not as old as they wished themselves to be, the Shadows of Knight

But pretty much just for a year. Psychedelia and hippie-dom killed off the toughs, you might say, and though garage-band careers could persist into 1967 and beyond, there was nothing like that kind of initial fervor of 1966.  Here are 10 other great garage LPs and tracks you need to check out now,.

The Sonics, Boom

Seattle’s proto-punkers were the loudest of the garage bands, and those most in thrall to distortion – to an almost erotic degree. The lyrics, too, could get a bit Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, so you wonder just what the hell they were reading. The version of Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch-Hike” out bad-asses the Stones’, whereas band original “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is like the rock & roll version of a horrifying B film featuring a cameo from the Devil himself.

The Barbarians, Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl

Ah, a garage band from the brine-clotted peninsula of Cape Cod, complete with a drummer, in Victor “Moulty” Molton, who had a hook for a hand – a misfortune the band cashed in on by having him sing a ballad of his real-life left hand’s downfall. The title track of their debut was a hilarious take on gender which would horrify the Internet-scouring militants of today ever in search of things to be offended by, but better still is “Linguica,” a greasy slab of surf-infused bonhomie that has some real instrumental aplomb to it.

The Leaves, Hey Joe

California’s the Leaves went through the garage-folk route. Quite the cool little hybrid. The title track was a grassier version, you might say, than something like Hendrix’s take on the standard later in the year, but rare was the garage band who would tackle Dylan, and tackle Dylan well, as the Leaves did with “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” a single commonly appended to the original LP as a bonus track. Their cover of Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” is Deep South American rhythm & blues, via English Northern soul, flecked with let’s-cut-class California sunshine.

The Music Machine, (Turn On) the Music Machine

Some songs, the Who’s Leeds version of “My Generation,” just make you say, “what the fuck was that?” the first time you hear them. Sean Bonniwell’s “Talk Talk,” from this Los.Angeles. band’s debut, is one of those songs. These guys come off as total nutters at times. Like on a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry,” or a version of the Beatles’ “Taxman” that sounds like the original has been forced to take Valium and then get stomped on by a group of nascent L.A. art punks.

Question Mark and the Mysterians, 96 Tears

Hailing from Saginaw, Michigan, Rudy Martinez, lead singer of this group of organ-loving oddities, claimed to be from Mars, but if you were from Mars, would you really write a song, in the title track, which inverts the 69 sexual position and turns it into a symbol for teenage heartbreak? Who knows. These Tex-Mexers were pretty foul, but sufficiently adept that they could handle a blues like T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” which betters the Them version. And hey, “96 Tears” hit Number One on the charts, which was quite the notch for the garage scene.

The Standells, Dirty Water

The title cut off the Standells‘ debut album was a catchy-as-hell . Never mind that the this L.A. band hadn’t been east of the Mississippi. The song also offers a cautionary tale: It can be easy, with a garage band known for a huge hit, to think they had nothing else. This LP, though, is loaded with irascible, edgy cuts, like the blue-balls lament that is “Little Sally Tease,” and the strangely heart-rending “Why Did You Hurt Me?”

Count Five, Psychotic Reaction

If you know this San Jose band, you might know the essay Rolling Stones Lester Bangs wrote positively drooling over the album, which got him so excited he made up a bunch more Count Five LPs that didn’t exist. The Count Five – who wore Bela Lugosi-style Dracula capes – had a touch of the Zombies about them, and some similar melodic and rhythmic panache, albeit with less flexible grooves. This record is catchy as hell, with a couple Who covers, but more highlights in terms of originals. The hit title track borrows the rave-up gambit from the Yardbirds’ “I’m a Man” but opener “Double-Decker Bus” is the real rabble-rouser. Again, the American guitar-wielding teens of 1966 loved British stuff. And the reconceptualization of everyday British imagery could be pretty heady in its new seedy American digs.

The Remains, Don’t Look Back

So this Boston boys, and Boston boys who could play. Barry Tashian and the Remains were musicians first, garage-band dudes second. The title track of this album is to this band as “Paranoid Android” was to Radiohead. Multi-part, it was the coolest vamp groove you will ever hear, with percussive guitar effects and Tashian’s vocal skipping over the beat, it is one of the great rock & roll cuts of its decade. These guys opened for the Beatles on the latter’s final American tour, and with Tashian originals like “Thank You” and “Time of Day,” they should have been set for super status,

The Blues Magoos, Psychedelic Lollipop

No garage band, back then or since, ever came up with a better, more saucily absurd album title than Psychedelic Lollipop. These Bronx kids had a hit with “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” a stompy organ-based number, but they were perhaps the most versatile of the first-wave garage groups. Their cover of James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy” is tighter than tight, whereas the Magoos’ take on “Tobacco Road” foreshadows metal’s birth more convincingly than anything else in the garage canon.

The Clefs of Lavender Hill, Stop! Get a Ticket

So this sister and brother outfit from Florida didn’t have an album, but this track from a compilation of their 1966 recordings, is a true garage cornucopia of sorts. The name is, of course, deliberately English-inflected, but that kind of invention – or reinvention – is what garage bands are all about. Maybe you can’t be everything you wish to be, but you can pretend and push, and doing so will get you at least part of the way there. The title track is a sophisticated outlay of melodies that are almost floral in their overtones, with a clever bass-drum part where a chorus would usually pop in. “First Tell Me Why”  in the Floridian sunshine, and “One More Time,” which might be one of the best things any garage band ever did, is a massive, bass-powered, hand-clappy song with a giant beat that makes you want to lower your shoulder and power through a wall.