something else that’s 55 years old. (Not bad!)
something else that’s 55 years old. (Not bad!)
Digging this feature back out after a few starts last year. This is where I feature favorite classic picks and new finds in garage rock, inspired by the Nuggets compilation and Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Here’s a link to the original post that has more details on the idea.
First up, The Knickerbockers – One Track Mind
The pride of Bergenfield NJ, the Knickerbockers formed in 1962 – their classic line up consisted of brothers Beau Charles (guitar and vocals) and John Charles (bass and vocals), Buddy Randell (vocals and sax), and Jimmy Walker (drums). They got their name from a road that ran through an adjacent town.
I featured their top 20 hit Lies, from 1965, in a Song of the Day back in September of last year. One Track Mind came out in 1966, and didn’t do as well (#45) due to distribution problems. Both songs have great pop melodies reminiscent of the Beatles.
Next up, Big Star – When My Baby’s Beside Me
Big Star (Alex Chilton (guitars, piano, vocals), Chris Bell (guitars, vocals), Jody Stephens (drums, vocals), and Andy Hummel (bass guitar, vocals)) formed in 1971 in Memphis, and before breaking up in 1974, released a series of albums that served as a blueprint for power pop music for decades to come. They were one of those bands that never really achieved commercial success at the time but in retrospect were hugely influential, cited as an inspiration by REM, the Replacements, as well as many others. When My Baby’s Beside Me is off their 1st record, aptly names Number 1 Record.
Let’s go overseas to Scotland and The Marmalade’s I See The Rain
As I’ve mentioned, one inspiration for these posts is Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Usually, the 4th set of the show features what Steven calls a “slightly psychedelic” set. While I’ve never really been into that genre very much, I did hear this song for the first time on the show and really loved it (and to be honest, it is really only slightly psychedelic!). I especially like the guitar line, the harmony vocals, and the making the best of the situation ethos of the lyrics.
The Marmalade were from Glasgow Scotland, having first formed in 1961 and going under several other names before settling on The Marmalade in 1966. Members included Patrick Fairley (vocals, 6 string bass/rhythm guitars), William Junior Campbell (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Dean Ford (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Raymond Duffy (drums), and Graham Knight (vocals, bass). I See the Rain was released in 1967 (and topped the charts in the Netherlands) and was also on their 1968 album There’s Alot of It About.
Cotton Mather – Lost My Motto
While I have mostly focused on classic garage from the 1960s, there are many great garage bands still keeping the flame alive. Here’s another great one that I discovered on the Underground Garage.
Named for the 17th century Puritan preacher, Cotton Mather formed in 1990 in Austin TX, and consisted of Robert Harrison (guitar and vocals), Whit Williams (guitar and vocals), Matt Hovis (bass) and Greg Thibeaux (drums). Weaving in influences from the Beatles to early Elvis Costello, they play great guitar power pop. This cut, Lost My Motto, from the 1994 album Cotton Is King, also has a distinctly Squeeze like feel. As of 2017, they were still active.
Well, time to roll the garage door down for now. Til next time…..
When I was about 14, I asked for music by The Beatles for a Christmas present. I was thinking White Album but what I got was a compilation called Beatles Love Songs which was fine but not exactly the Rock and Roll I had in mind. Norwegian Wood was on that album and I was “ meh” about the song.
Well, chalk it up to youthful stupidity. This song is amazing.
Time for a second episode of Digging in the Garage, where I feature some of my favorite garage tunes, as heard on Nuggets or Little Steven’s Underground Garage. See here for the inaugural episode which has more background. Let’s get digging.
First up, (We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet by the Blues Magoos.
The Magoos were a Bronx psychedelic rock band that was part of the NY scene in the mid 60’s, along with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Youngbloods. According to Songfacts, the Magoos were a huge influence on Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd. Released in October 1966 on the album Psychedelic Lollipop, the song reached #5 on the US charts in February 1967. The boastfulness of the lyrics about being on their way to massive success was apparently matched in their live performances, where they wore electric blue suits with flashing lights. Ironically, it was their only hit.
Outside Chance – The Turtles
The Turtles are best know for their #1 single Happy Together, which famously knocked the Beatles Penny Lane out of the top spot in the American charts. The vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later achieved fame as Flo & Eddie. Outside Chance was a single released in 1966 that amazingly failed to chart. Fun fact – the song was co-written by a young Warren Zevon. I love the contrariness of the lyrics – rather than pleading with the girl to love him, the singer flatly states: Stone walls surround me I’m surprised that you even found me, And you don’t stand an outside chance. Although perhaps there is hope, since the next line is: But you can try!
Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love) – The Swingin’ Medallions
This is one of my favorite songs of all time. A classic example of “frat rock,” so called because the record sounds like it was recorded during a frat party (with party voices in the background). The Swingin’ Medallions were from, of all places, Greenwood, South Carolina – which just goes to show you that great songs can come from anywhere. Their 1966 cover of Double Shot (originally recorded in 1964 by Dick Holler & the Holidays) went to #17 on the charts. It contains the all time time classic line It wasn’t wine that I had too much of, It was a double shot of my baby’s love. Hilariously, it was banned from some radio stations (perhaps in the South?) for its mention of drinking and sex. My how times have changed. Anyway, I first heard of it on a Springsteen bootleg where Bruce mentions it while introducing Sherry Darling (an homage to frat rock songs).
If you have any favorite garage songs you think I should feature, let me know in the comments.
Til next time…
Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts.
1942 So You Say Its Your Birthday! Jerry Garcia, American singer-songwriter and guitarist for the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, among others. Garcia died of a heart attack while in drug rehab in 1995.
1964, A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles becomes their 5th #1 single in the span of 7 months in the US. Its opening guitar chord becomes iconic. The Beatles would spend 18 weeks at the No. 1 position during 1964.
1971, The George Harrison organized Concert For Bangladesh takes place at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The two concerts, to raise money to famine and war victims in Bangladesh, featured Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar, and Badfinger, among others. It was the first ever benefit concert of this magnitude, seen by over 40,000 people and raised over $250,000. Over the decades, the concert, and resulting triple album and film, have raised over $12M (as of 1985).
1971 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour begins on the CBS network in the US. The show grew out of a nightclub act that Sonny and Cher had embarked on after their music career declined. The show featured comedy skits and musical numbers by the duo along with guest stars. It ran until 1974, than again in a different from in 1976-77.
1981 MTV launches at 12:01 AM Eastern Time, with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia and of the launch of Apollo 11. The first video played is The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.
Sources: This Day in Music.com; YouTube, Wikipedia, jerrygarcia.com, Billboard,
1953 So You Say Its Your Birthday! Patti Scialfa, American singer-songwriter. Scialfa came up in the Jersey shore scene, before joining Bruce Springsteen’s E St. Band for the Born in the USA tour. She has also done session work for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, and David Johansen (Buster Pointdexter), as well as released several solo works, including Rumble Doll, released in 1993. Oh, and she is married to Bruce Springsteen.
1966, Bob Dylan is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock NY, suffering broken neck vertebra. The accident came weeks after the release of Blonde on Blonde, the third of three classic albums over 18 months that changed rock and roll forever (the other two being Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited). Dylan went into seclusion for a year, re-emerging in 1967 to record what would become The Basement Tapes. Some mystery has surrounded the accident. For more see this story.
1968 The Beatles begin recording Hey Jude, a song written by Paul McCartney about John Lennon’s son Julian.
Sources: This Day in Music.com, Wikipedia, Ultimate Classic Rock.com
1969 The Beatles start recording ‘Come Together’ by John Lennon at Abbey Road studios in London.
1973 ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ by Jim Croce starts a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart. Tragically Croce is killed in a plane crash three months later.
1977 The Sex Pistols make their first appearance on the UK music show Top Of The Pops, where they lip-synch to their third single, ‘Pretty Vacant‘.
1987, Guns N’ Roses release their debut album on Geffen Records: Appetite For Destruction. The album becomes the best-selling debut album of all time in the US. The first single is ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.
Sources: This Day in Music.com; Wikipedia