From Seattle to the Medway Delta (with Detours)
Back in the 60s when the sound of the British Invasion swept the USA, young Americans from coast to coast grew their hair long, affected the English (via Italy) dress sense (with a touch of Ivy League) and had a rave up. In many cases they took it that bit further out and in the process they invented the garage sound.
Though not known for extremes, the Northwest city of Seattle produced some of the furthest out sounds and spawned the wildest of the wild in the shape of the Sonics.
Some 20 years on and Mickey and the Milkshakes with Billy Childish brought it back home in the wake of the UK’s Punk Rock explosion in the unlikely setting of the Medway in the Thames Delta, just southof London in an unfashionable way. The Milkshakes in turn inspired another bunch of bored teens in Seattle and 10 years later Mudhoney, Nirvana et al were all the rage, but that’s another story.
But the disaffected youth of Seattle were not the only ones to go into their garages and emergefuelled up. In Los Angeles, Sunset Strip had a riot of its own and deep in the heart of Texas they risked life and limb to be longhairs in the land of the longhorns.
And so at the dawn of hippiedom America raged and all those years later in the middle of Thatcherism the London-based garage bands snarled in the UK.
Uptight Tonight: The Ultimate 60s Garage Collection
Psych / Garage
Various Artists (Big Beat Various)
A fistful of chords and a lot of attitude is what makes a great garage band and compilations really don’t come on any better than this. This is the one way in to the glorious noise of crashing guitars, screaming organs and rasping vocals.
Hot Hits And Hot Ones, Is This The Way That You get Your High?
Psych / Garage
The Standells were the most commercial of the garage bands, but we don’t hold that against them. Sunset Strip’s finest tore up the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, appeared in low rent movies, wrote four great garage anthems and had a neat line in Stones covers.
Distortion didn’t know what hit it the day the Sonics got hold of it and throttled it to within an inch of its life. Do not be put off by the five guys in cardigans on the cover – this is nuclear and how did Seattle survive it? Compiling their no-holds barred Etiquette sessions, this is the ultimate Sonics anthology.
Out Of Our Tree, the opening track here by the Wailers, sets the tone for this rant through the history of Seattle’s finest label, Etiquette Records. A tribute to its owner, producer and Wailer Buck Ormsby. The Sonics’ tracks here are taken for the first time directly from the 2-track tape that the band actually recorded onto. Rock’n’roll dementia in hi-fi
Mouse & The Traps
Fronted by Ronnie “Mouse” Weiss, the greatest Dylan impersonator ever to deny the influence (oh, come on), the Traps were from Texas and in Maid Of Sugar, Maid Of Spice made a record that could rip your ears off if you play it too loud.
Straight out of the early Mod handbook, Medway’s Prisoners deliver slashing guitars, a mammoth Hammond B3 sound and impassioned vocals that went on to influence the next generation. They had too much passion to contain in one band so they finally crashed and burned.
If the Hamburg Beatles had recorded in a garden shed with Joe Meek producing, then they would have sounded like this. The Medway Sound in all its lo-fi glory from the men who created it.
The Tall Boys
From a small dark corner of the garage come the larger darker Tall Boys fronted by Nigel Lewis recently estranged from seminal psychobillies the Meteors. He certainly retained the psycho aspect in this dangerous twist to the garage ethos. Even Bernard Goetz bought a copy of Brand New Gun– but then it is about him
Take a dog-eared copy of the definitive 60s psychedelic garage compilation LP Nuggets, a handful of beat group 45s, add a little psych pop and stir it up in a sweaty north London club in the 1980s. You get this antidote to the bland and 20 years after the previous rage against the anodyne.