The Remains

 

What was one of the greatest bands to come out of Boston in the middle 1960’s that you never heard of? Give up?  Still thinking it over? If you happen to think of The Remains, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back! You are really into your 60’s music. The Remains are probably one of the most underrated and unheard of bands of the decade of the sixties.

THE REMAINS
THE REMAINS

The Remains formed in Boston in 1964, and though they never received much notice outside of New England at that time, they were good. Really good! Unfortunately, by 1966, The Remains were no more. Short, sweet and powerful! If they could have made a go of it longer than a couple of years, they would have been much bigger, I’m sure. What they did leave behind is their one studio release in 1966, and it was masterful. What success they left on the table back in the middle sixties, would eventually become an international following, as an underground cult band.

Let’s put some things in perspective. At around the time of their 1966 studio release, The Remains, and their quick departure from the music scene at the time, they opened for The Beatles on their final tour. They also were on the music tv show Hullabaloo as well as The Ed Sullivan Show. They were on the way to stardom before their early departure from the music scene.

The Remains were not really part of the psychedelic music scene that would become synonymous at the start of the middle sixties. They were more of a garage rock band, and proto-punk. However, they featured some very psychedelic sounding guitar solos on some of their songs.

Their leader, Barry Tashian, who in my opinion is one of the better vocalists of the era, would have a very interesting career after The Remains. He would eventually become a guitarist and singer for Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. He currently, and has for quite some time, teams up with his wife Holly to make up the duo Barry and Holly Tashian. They play and record country music, folk and bluegrass.

One of my favorite songs off of The Remains self titled debut is Why Do I Cry, a great garage rock song with elements of punk and r&b and a great guitar riff. Their sound is infectious, danceable, and is one of Boston’s finest!

Don’t Look Back is a cover tune, and another one of my favorites off the record. It features excellent vocals by Barry Tashian, and there are times when he sounds like he is summoning his inner Mick Jagger. A great garage tune, which is in my opinion, a gem that never got the recognition it deserves.

The record as a whole is solid, shows a band that is very talented, and is a pleasure to listen too each time I listen to it. I find it unfortunate that The Remains never got the notoriety that they deserved, and that their career as a unit was so short. Had they stuck around a bit longer, they could have been one of the truly great artists of the sixties and beyond. What we have from The Remains though, is a treasure, and they left their mark, especially in Boston and New England as a whole. One of Boston’s best, regardless of their lack of popularity outside of New England.

Rating: A

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deviants-Disposable

THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE
THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE(1968)

 

The Deviants, also known as The Social Deviants, was an English psychedelic band founded by Mick Farren in 1967. Farren described the sound of The Deviants as “teeth-grinding, psychedelic rock.” The band formed out of the UK Underground, which was Great Britain’s correlation to the hippie counterculture movement that was developing in the United States at the same time.

The band’s album, Disposable, was released in 1968. Their music is considered to be the British equivalent to The Fugs from New York, and from what I’ve heard so far with Disposable, I like them much better than The Fugs. To me, they really don’t sound that much alike.

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Disposable, but was pleasantly surprised by this well developed, enjoyable record.  The first song, Somewhere To Go, starts of with an infectious bass beat that got me interested right away. After the intro, that seems like they we talking about being young and in The Underground, or British counterculture,  the song takes a garage rock turn, It is a great song with a killer psychedelic guitar solo, and I find myself wondering how I never heard of these guys until just recently. Great opening number.

Sparrows and Wires seems like filler at first, but it grew on me within the context of the record as a whole. It isn’t as much a song as it is a spoken word explanation, short and to the point, then on to the next tune.

Jamie’s Song is a slow moving psychedelic trip, pure psychedelic rock.

You’ve Got To Hold On is a great psychedelic song from start to finish, and is my favorite song on the album. Awesome lyrics, with killer guitar work makes this song so awesome! I find it hard to believe that The Deviants were not  more popular than they were, as I think they have some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Fire In The City is a song featuring sax, and it’s meaning seems to be about the turbulent times that was the norm in the late sixties, both in the United Kingdom and in the States. The smooth sax solo in the middle of the tune is well done and the song as a whole is mellow but packs a lyrical punch if listened to with the sixties counterculture in mind.

Let’s Loot The Supermarket is a partially incoherent ramble about seemingly nothing but a bunch of acid induced people hanging out on a street corner somewhere to stoned to stand. Ya know, a typical sixties type infusion of fun, drugs and at times, boredom. A funny song not meant to make any serious political statement, just a bit of fluff in the middle of the record. Not one of my favorite songs on the album, but acceptable.

If Pappa Oo Mao Mao sounds familiar, it should, as it is a cover of the 1962 Rivington’s piece Papa Oom Mow Mow, originally an incoherent do wop number.  However, it seems to me that the spelling of the titled was altered from the original, referring to China’s communist leader Mao Tse-tung. The song was made into a statement against the communist Chinese regime, to me it seems pretty apparent. Good way to turn a funny, nonsensical tune into a political one.

Normality Jam is an great psychedelic instrumental piece with a funky drum beat and awesome guitars throughout. One of the best pieces of music on the record.

Guaranteed To Bleed is a slower, more mature song, with great keyboards. Sidney B. Goode is a short instrumental that emulates Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry. It is a good attempt at making the song sound like Berry’s original, but giving it a bit of a psychedelic spin.

Last Man is an eerie sounding spoken word piece that closes out the record. This ends a very entertaining record, with little filler, and a good representation of the British sound from The Uk Underground, the counterculture movement from across the pond. Good stuff!

Rating: A-


 

 

 

 

The Sonics-Boom

THE SONICS-BOOM
THE SONICS-BOOM(1966)

 

The Sonics were a garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington. They got their start in 1960, and were very influential in the garage rock genre, and also influenced punk rock bands with their hard driving, aggressive sound. They are considered by many to be the the very first punk/grunge group, long before punk and grunge we a “thing.” The grunge connection seems to be significant, due to the fact that most of popular grunge bands originated in the State of Washington, where The Sonics got their start.

The Sonics
The Sonics

Much of the Sonics sound is taken from the music of the 1950’s, but with a more brash and aggressive style. Some of the songs on their 1966 release, Boom, are cover versions of some very famous and recognisable songs performed by other groups.

One of the covers, titled “Skinny Minnie”, was a song made famous by Bill Haley and his group The Comets in 1958. One of the endearing qualities of The Sonics, in my opinion, is the way they take some of these older tunes and rev them up a bit. The beginnings of a harder version of music, later to become punk and hard rock.

Another cover on the record is a good rendition of “Let The Good Times Roll” from Shirley and Lee in 1956. This song was covered by numerous bands and artists over the years, and this cover by The Sonics is a good representation.

Another cover on the record is “Jenny, Jenny” written by Little Richard in 1957. Other covers of famous songs on the record include “Louie Louie”,”Since I Fell For You”, “Hitch Hike.” and “Don’t You Just Know It.” More than half of the songs on the record are covers, and all are given a good reworking in The Sonics style.

The Sonics original songs on the record are worthy of attention also. The first song on the album, Cinderella, starts out with hard driving guitars, and screaming vocals, a classic garage rock offering. The Sonics music, though sometimes raw and hard, is also very danceable, giving it an interesting dynamic.

The next song, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, is a Sonics original that starts out slow, but picks up a bit, and is definitely influenced by the music of the 1950’s. As will virtually all the songs on this record, these are fun songs to dance to, and work well in the sixties, and would fit in very nicely ten years earlier.

He’s Waitin’ is another  Sonics song that is pure garage rock, with hints of punk, is extremely entertaining ear candy, and is one of my favorite songs on the record. The song has a great, simple guitar riff that is infectious.

It’s Alright is a song that has a great guitar solo in the middle, and is one of the few times on the record that i can hear a bit of early psychedelia slip through, although The Sonics are not considered a psychedelic band. The beginnings of the psychedelic musical style can be heard briefly in the middle of this song.

The last song on the record, Shot Down, is a great song with a excellent, hard driving  guitar solo. You can hear the formation of what would later be considered hard rock, and the Sonics influenced that genre just as much as punk or grunge.

The Sonics were fun and danceable, very influential, and a band that is well worth checking out. Some of the best music in the beginning to middle sixties!

Rating: A

 

 

 

The Stooges

The Stooges
THE STOOGES

 

The Stooges were a rock band that got their start in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967. They were sometimes referred to as Iggy and the Stooges, and the original band members consisted of Iggy Pop, David Alexander, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton. They are widely considered to be influencers of hard rock, and heavy metal, and they are a major influence in establishing the punk rock genre.

The Stooges self titled debut album was released on August 5th, 1969 and was originally produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground. It was rejected by Elektra Records, the same record company that had the Doors as their main act, but was redone by Iggy Pop and Jac Holzman, president of Elektra. It is widely considered a seminal proto-punk record.

The first song on the record, 1969, starts out with some great sounds from a wah wah pedal, and then turns into a classic guitar riff that sounds like the earliest incarnations of punk. With Iggy Pop’s vocals I get the feel of what punk was about to become. A classic opening tune.

The next song on the record is I Wanna Be Your Dog. This song consists of an iconic and very recognisable guitar riff which is played over and over throughout, and there are sleigh bells chiming through the piece as well. This is my favorite song on the record, and one of The Stooges classic, proto-punk songs. It is considered in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 songs of all time, coming in at number 438.

We Will Fall is a ten minute track that departs from the rest of the record, and it can be a bit hard to ingest for those who don’t like long, drawn out, droning pieces of music, which is exactly what it is. It is also a great song if the lights are low, the lava lamp is fired up, and the mood is right. It is an obscure song, but it works if you’re in the right frame of mind. The song definitely breaks up the consistency of an otherwise great rock album. I would consider We Will Fall the records one psychedelic song, dropped in with the rest being rockers and proto-punk gems.

The next song is No Fun, and it has some great fuzz guitar riffs, along with Iggy’s vocals, it is a great, early punk tune. I can see the influence that the band had on future punk and hard rock bands while listening to this track.

The next song, Real Cool Time, starts out with that wah wah sound and heavy guitars. The early workings of heavy metal by The Stooges gave a lot of bands their influence, a group that was somewhat ahead of their time.

Ann is a slow song, that reminds me a bit of The Doors. Actually, there are parts of this record as a whole that reminds me of The Doors. Although I can hear the similarities between both bands, they each have their own distinct style. The Doors a bit more psychedelic, while The Stooges are more harder.

Not Right is a classic garage rock song all the way, very entertaining, but not one of The Stooges more recognisable tunes.

Little Doll is the last song on the record, and it rocks the album out nicely, with a quick funky bass beginning, which follows with some heavy guitars. A great song, and Iggy has a great punk voice. The beginnings of a genre for sure.

The only low point in the record for me is We Will Fall, not because I don’t like the song, but it doesn’t really seem to follow the blueprint for the rest of the record, and seems out of place. But the record as a whole is excellent, and the future is being laid out before us. THE GODFATHERS OF PUNK, indeed!

Rating: A-

 

The Fugs First Album

THE FUGS FIRST ALBUM

 

The Fugs are a psychedelic folk, garage rock band formed in New York City in 1964. They were known for their lewd lyrical content, had a very comical spin to them, and were vehemently against the Vietnam war and wrote songs and protested against it throughout the sixties. Their name was a euphemism for the word f_ck, and some claim it was the first time an expletive word was used in recorded music. The main members in the Fugs were Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, and Ken Weaver, as well as many different incarnations throughout the years.

The Fugs first album was originally titled a gawdy The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views, and General Dissatisfaction. It was eventually shortened to The Village Fugs or The Fugs First Album. 

To be honest, when I first heard The Fugs First Album, I was not impressed at all. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t get through it. But like many people who try beer for the first time and hated it, such as myself, trying again and again, was able to ultimately come to appreciate them. They are an aquired taste. Many consider them to be the very first underground band.

The first song on the album, Slum Goddess, starts off well enough. It is a catchy tune and actually one of the better songs on the record. So my very first exposure to The Fugs was somewhat positive. By the second song, Ah, Sunflower, Weary of Time, which is a song based on a poem by William Blake, I was getting weary. This was not the kind of music I was accustomed to listening to. I didn’t really like the vocals.

The next song, Supergirl, was much better, both musically and vocally, and the lyrics were a bit out there, to say the least. An interesting song with semi poetic lyrics, and a funny bend to it, was probably one of my top two favorites on the record. It took some people by surprise to be sure, as this was some of their most wild and trashy lyrics. Though The Fugs may have sounded a bit odd, and looked a little rough around the edges, they were not a bunch of uneducated vagrants. Kupferberg was a poet, guitarist and composer, and Sanders owned a bookstore called Peace Eye, where the rehearsed their material. Though maybe what they lacked in musical talent at the time time, they made up for lyrically.

The Swinburne Stomp, I can truthfully admit, I find unlistenable, even now, and tend to skip over the song when listening to the record. An acquired taste that I never acquired with this tune.

I Couldn’t Get High is a good song, very entertaining both musically and vocally, if not sounding a bit drunk and stoned, which is what they were going for. They achieved a nice classic sounding garage rock tune with this one.

How Sweet I Roamed From Field To Field works well as a country sounding folk piece. A bit slow, but enjoyable, if you like that kind of down home country twang.

Carpe Diem is good enough musically, but vocally falls short in my opinion. My Baby Done Left Me is your song if you like like yodeling, and a play on the word sh_t. Not one of my favorites.

Boobs A Lot is hilarious, if not a bit obscene and quirky. I don’t think it a great song, however it puts a bit of humor at the end of the album. The album ends on a low note with Nothing, a song about a whole lot of, well, nothing. Sort of bleak and morbid.

The 1993 reissue has a lot more material if anyone is interested. Not great, not horrible, but much of the same as the album, but I am sure there are many people that will like it. At the end of the day, this is not a record that I would put on, but it is interesting, and in some respects, groundbreaking for the times in the mid sixties. Check it out and see what you think.

Rating: C