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.
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!