One great thing about the music blogosphere is being exposed to other’s musical tastes and experiencing great music you’ve never heard before or had forgotten about.
This is how I got turned back on to early garage rock. Someone somewhere mentioned Nuggets, the great early compilation of garage and psychedelic singles of the 60’s. The original Nuggets (official title Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968) put together by Lenny Kaye was a 2 disc compilation released in 1972 by Elektra Records. Subsequent versions were released by Rhino Records in the 80’s.
Between listening to these, along with multiple episodes of Little Steven’s Underground Garage (as part of “research” for my blogs on Little Steven (here and here), I’ve heard some great tunes.
So I thought it would be fun to do a recurring feature highlighting 2-3 of my favorite finds (or re-finds) from time to time. I’m going to be pretty broad in what gets in – if its shown up on Nuggets, or the Underground Garage, or by a band that was on either, its eligible. Thus, the Digging in the Garage title! Get it?
For this first one, let’s start as Nuggets does, with “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” by The Electric Prunes. Great song title and band name! The Prunes formed in 1965 in Los Angeles and recorded 2 albums before breaking up in 1968. Their name apparently started as a joke, but they decided to keep it since it was so unusual, it would be memorable to listeners. Too Much to Dream was written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, and was the band’s second single. In 1967 it reached # 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The oscillating reversed guitar sound which opens the song was done by lead guitarist Ken Williams with his 1958 Gibson Les Paul and a Bigsby vibrato unit and then played backwards.
Next up, Don’t Look Back, by Barry and the Remains. The Remains, from Boston, formed in 1964 and achieved a strong following in the New England area. Their biggest claim to fame was opening for the Beatles on the Fab Four’s last US tour in 1966. Don’t Look Back, written by Billy Vera, was from their debut album, 1966’s The Remains. Ironically, opening for the Beatles didn’t break them nationally, and they actually had broken up prior to the album’s release. I especially like the “Shout” type interlude midway through the song.
Next, let’s go to Cleveland for The Outsiders and Time Won’t Let Me. The band had been playing as an R&B band the Starfires until changing their name in 1965. Time Won’t Let Me, written by rhythm guitarist Tom King and his brother-in-law Chet Kelly, was a Top 5 hit in 1966 and became a million seller. I love the combination of the 12 string guitar riff and the horn section chart.
Le’ts wrap up this edition in the Pacific Northwest, with Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics, from Tacoma WA. The Sonics formed in 1961 but had their greatest success starting in 1964-65. Have Love Will Travel was on their 1965 debut album Here Are The Sonics, and is a cover of the 1959 version by Richard Berry (fun fact: he also wrote Louie, Louie). With its fuzzy guitars, booming drums, dirty sax, and screaming vocals, plus its primitive recording method, it seemed to come from an entirely different universe compared to most other songs of the time. The Sonics are seen as precursors of punk, and this song is a great example. If this song doesn’t at least get your toes tapping, check your pulse – you may not have one!
Well, that’s all for now. I’ll have more nuggets in the future.
Nuggets image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10513930