3 Dec 2014

Five sixties garage-psych tracks that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE

I think when a lot of people say they love the sixties, they mean"Yeah! I love the sixties! The Beatles 'n' shit!" And that's cool, The Beatles were pretty great, and so were The Stones and The Kinks, and that's really not an issue. But what kinda sucks is that at the same time across the pond, loads of bands were making great, timeless music that doesn't have the audience you'd perhaps say it deserves. So I compiled a list of 5 essential garage rock tracks that everyone should hear, (not a concise list of everything that happened during that era) that could potentially change someone's life. Kinda. And it's worth your while listening to them, because not one of them spans three minutes.

1. Liar, Liar - THE CASTAWAYS

The Castaways are pretty much one hit wonders, and this track demonstrates why the one hit was a hit. In fact, I'd go so far to say that, with it's organ-driven sound and the best backing vocals in the world, it's one of the greatest tracks ever consigned to vinyl. It's less than two minutes long, and not a second of it's wasted; a quick blast of infectious organ and you're straight into the "LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE/NOSE IS LONGER THAN A TELEPHONE WIRE" bit, which is just genius. And every time the instrumentation backs down the backing vocalist (fun fact: it's the male guitarist singing in falsetto - imagine being able to sing like that) hits again with that chorus - this song is not just one of the best garage psych tracks, but it's one the best tracks.

2. Alone Again Or - LOVE

First things first, the title; it's pretty fucking cool that the title has that 'Or' at the end of it. It kinda reminds me of the scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black's character and John Cusack spend a scene yelling about what the word 'yet' meant at the end of a sentence. What's also pretty fucking cool about this song is the instrumentation; it's made more dramatic with righteous, righteous trumpets - frontman Arthur Lee's father was a cornet player in a jazz band, which explains the jazzy influence. It's danceable, and it defies all logic that this wasn't a high charting pop hit - but today, however, it's regarded as a masterpiece and rightly so.


Speaking of High Fidelity, this is the track from the opening credits, and in my personal opinion, this band were the greatest of the sixties, bollocks to The Beatles! Fronted by the charismatic Roky Erickson, the Elevators made a handful of genius albums between 1966 and the start of the seventies. Although they're renowned by loads of critics, and people like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Julian Cope have spoken about their amazing influence, this track stands out as both their most renowned and a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into them. It's 150 seconds of spite, and one of the best songs of the whole decade - there's a lot going on, too, because there's that weird sound in the background that's on all their songs.

4. Strychnine - THE SONICS

The Sonics were probably the heaviest of the bands that made psych-garage, and Stychnine is probably (along with Psycho) the song that defines them. They're pretty much renowned for their heavy approach, as they pretty much blast their way through this number in a way that was completely unprecedented at that time. At the time it was released, Strychnine was as near to a punk anthem as humanly possible for the underground sector of American music fans; a big fuck you to conformity, and something completely different to everything else around at that time.

5. Candy and a Currant Bun - PINK FLOYD
Basically, Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd were just the best band in the whole of Britain around the time that all of this was going on Stateside. Whilst it's not exactly the same as the other 4 tracks on this list, Candy and a Currant Bun is a psyched out masterpiece with definite garage influences. Just listen to that strutting rhythm and Barrett's brilliant intonation in the verses juxtaposed with the rasps of the chorus; the b-side to Arnold Layne showcases that Syd's Floyd would have blended in well with the US underground. The flipside to Candy... is just as psyched out; the more renowned Arnold Layne relies strongly on an infectious hook, whilst Candy has a bit more depth - that organ sound is a work of genius, and it's just a terrible that Syd's career and life went the way they did afterwards.