Monday, June 3, 2013

OF THE 60's
By Steve Ludwig

OK, so a garage band was generally thought of as a group of amateurish musicians who practiced their playing in the garage of one of its members. "Amateurish" is, of course, open to debate; but from its earliest roots (around 1963), that was at least the perception of garage songs and the bands that performed the music.
Their songs were not polished, production-wise...certainly very little studio "trickery."
But some of the greatest music in rock and roll history was "garage rock."
So I hereby present to you my humble, totally subjective list of the Top Ten Garage Songs of the 60's.

A few points to be made first...

A group like Paul Revere and the Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay sang some of the best garage songs ever ("Just Like Me" and "Hungry," among others). But I never really thought of them as a garage band. I suppose it's because of their "Paul Revere uniforms" that made them seem, to me, too polished to be a garage band. Nothing against them as a band; Mark Lindsay is one of the all-time great frontmen of the 60's, and I highly recommend you see him in concert when he's in your town!

The first wave of garage songs spanned the years 1963-1967, so that's where I tried to keep the list, within those years.

Also, just because a song may be considered a classic doesn't necessarily mean I put it on my list; I never liked "Louie, Louie," but it's a bonafide classic.

And when in doubt about whether or not a song qualifies as "garage," I simply go by how Steven Van Zandt describes a garage song: "Not much production but it's just cool."

Finally, it's impossible to narrow it to just ten, but I'll try...

Number 10:    "Sorry" - The Easybeats

"Friday on My Mind" by the Easybeats is definitely a cool song, too, but "Sorry" is garage from start to finish.


Number 9:     "Talk Talk" - The Music Machine

                       I got me a complication
                       And it's an only child...
                       My social life's a dud
                       My name is really mud

Lead singer Sean Bonniwell wrote this tale of teenage lament (teen pregnancy even!) in 1966. The Machine's look originally consisted of each band member wearing one black glove (so there, Michael Jackson!).
Bonniwell died in December 2011.



Number 8:             "Lies" - The Knickerbockers

Not the Beatles. But they do sound like the Fabs, don't they?
The pride of Bergenfield, NJ definitely makes my Top Ten list. It didn't hurt their chances that they use Beatles harmonies and Paul Mac-style "whooo's" throughout the song. 

By the way, I hope you're diggin' the go-go dancers in these videos!



Number 7:                "Psychotic Reaction" - Count Five

This one could've easily been higher on the list, but like I wrote earlier, it's nearly impossible to keep it to ten anyway!
In their early live shows, all five members of the group performed in Count Dracula capes...Hey wait...COUNT Dracula, FIVE members...I think I get it!
This song was kind of unusual in the fact that singles in 1966 rarely were over three minutes long, but this one was.



Number 6:               "With a Girl Like You" - The Troggs

I know, I know, "Wild Thing" by the Troggs is a garage song classic and it would definitely be in my Top Twenty, but you can't beat the "ba ba bom bom bom ba ba bom bom" when Reg Presley sings it. Presley's head kink is also way cool. 
Sadly, Reg died earlier this year of cancer, as well as complications from a series of strokes.



Number 5:    "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" - The Electric Prunes

The title of the song alone (and the group, for that matter!)  gives it a fighting chance to be on any Top Ten list. But the song makes it an easy choice. 
Psychedelic garage rock, baby!
When you watch this video from the Mike Douglas Show, you HAVE to keep watching after the song when Mike interviews the band with his co-host Barbara Feldon (Agent 99!), and she plays the drums!!!
Gotta love the 60's!


By the way, the Prunes also sang one of the best songs from the Easy Rider soundtrack, "Kyrie Eleison."


Number 4:     "We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet" - The Blues Magoos

More psychedelics, this time from the Bronx, NY. 
When a song opens an album titled Psychedelic Lollipop, uh, yeah, I think it  falls under psychedelia, no?
In 1967, they opened for headliners Herman's Hermits (The WHO went on after the Magoos!).



Number 3:         "Pushin' Too Hard" -  The Seeds

                               Well all I want is to just be free
                               Live my life the way I wanna be

The late Sky Saxon (he died on the same day as Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett) fronted the Seeds. Another of their songs, "I Can't Seem To Make You Mine," could just as easily been on this list, too. I guess the determining factor in choosing "Pushin' Too Hard" is so that you can watch the Seeds' appearance (as the "Warts"...teehee) on the 60's TV show, The Mothers-In-Law. As you'll see, those mothers-in-law (and fathers-in-law) were strictly Squaresville, but the Seeds were groovy all the way!



Number 2:          "My Little Red Book" - Love

                             And each girl in my little red book
                             Knows you're the one I'm thinkin' of

One of the coolest guys ever was Arthur Lee, lead singer of the band, Love.
He took this Burt Bacharach song and threw it in the garage where it belonged!
Lee's "boop boop boop boop boop boop boodle boo" easily rivals Reg Presley's "Ba ba bom bom ba"...and I'm not being facetious!
It brings those neat kind of goosebumps whenever you hear it sung.

(A garage song that deserves a very honorable mention is also by Love: "Seven and Seven Is." Again, Arthur Lee's vocals send shivers up the neck:
                 Through a crack of light I was unable to find my way 
                 Trapped inside a night but I'm a day and  I go
                 Ooh bepp bepp Ooh bepp bepp, yeah!  )

PLEASE check out this live performance of "My Little Red Book" by Arthur from 2003. He really still had it!


Arthur Lee died in 2006.


Number 1:                    "96 Tears" - ? and the Mysterians

                                            You're gonna cry, cry, cry, cry
                                             96 tears. 
Question Mark wrote and sang the best garage song of all time (in my humble opinion).
Opening with the now-legendary Vox organ riff (played by fourteen-year-old band member Frank Rodriguez), "96 Tears" defines garage rock.
Its relatively simple lyrics tell the story of hope-- hoping to show the girl who once controlled him that someday the roles will be reversed, and she will be the one crying 96 tears...


No question about it, Q still tours. Here's a performance from 2011, in a PBS pledge drive. Like Arthur Lee was able to, Question still rips it up live.



And that's my list.

Agree? Disagree?

I'd really like to read your opinion!


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1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more on the #1 pick - 96 Tears by ? and The Mysterians.