The theme of this weeks playlist is 60s Punk, by which we mean Mod Rock and Garage Rock recorded in the 1960s (obviously). Bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Seeds created new forms of Rock that set the foundation of Punk. Young musicians in the UK took the best elements of Rock & Roll – the tough, streetwise rebellion – and increased it tenfold. Many groups in what to be known as ‘The British Invasion’ focused on the energy of a quick, rough, distorted riff to drive a song. In turn, America responded with a new generation of bands developing and experimenting with this simple sound, many of them famously collected on Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation in 1972. By the mid-1960s however, the original artists developed as musicians, which unfortunately gave way to the bland complexities of slow burning Blues and Prog-Rock. 60s Punk however was immediate music. It’s the short, sharp language that speaks to teenagers – full of know-it-all cynicism and anti-authority sentiment. It’s music that knows trying to be cool is more important than trying to be clever. Which is why in the mid-70s groups like Ramones and The Damned tried (successfully) to revive a time when Rock and Pop were indivisible and teenagers had an authentic language of their own. This playlist, available on Spotify below and here on YouTube, collects 14 of the best, most outrageous and most exciting songs from a time when a riff could set the world on fire!
!!! For proper use please turn volume up to max !!!
Straight out of the gate, one of the most iconic riffs there’s been. The roar of Ray Davies’ guitar on this Kinks track proves a rhythm doesn’t have to sound pretty. Garage gods, The Sonics took pride in being from the bad side of the tracks. Singing about psychos, strychnine and satanic worship (on ‘He’s Waitin’’), The Sonics legendary music overflows with energy. The Standells classic ‘Dirty Water’ is the opening track to Nuggets. In it Larry Tamblyn describes Boston as a seedy den of crooks, thieves and gangs, and where he feels most at home. With awesome guitars, ‘Psychotic Reaction’ by Count Five has been covered by the diverse likes of Television, Sex Pistols and The Cramps – it really is Rock at its best.
‘My Generation’ – what need be said? Not only one of the first Punk anthems but one of Rock’s most definitive songs. ‘Hope I die before I get old’ reeks with the arrogance and ignorance that music slowly lost, before being dragged back big time by Punk. The Who were a central band to the Mods, alongside The Creation. ‘Making Time’ opens with that tension filled riff that could soundtrack teenage frustration. ‘Why do we have to carry on singing the same old song?’ could be a Punk motto. Few Punks would be likely to acknowledge the influence of The Rolling Stones but it was impossible to avoid such a monolithic group. Remember they were original bad boys; while The Beatles sang ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ the Stones put out ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ – no point being shy about it. Ace Mod leaders The Small Faces could almost have been a prototype for the early Sex Pistols. This attitudical song, plus classics like ‘Wham Bam’ and ‘Understanding’ were among the first songs The Pistols used to play. Then, the original Rock & Roll primitivists The Troggs – the name, short for Troglodytes, says it all. They’re cavemen who sound like they’re first discovering music.
The Seeds debut album is one of the true gems of this period; this song gives just a taste of the treasures to be found in their rich, raucous music. Then, straight out of Texas, Roky Erikson’s 13th Floor Elevators – the first band to call themselves ‘psychedelic’. The magnificent ‘Fire Engine’ drives with the aggressive and confused beat of teenage sex. Sister band to the Elevators, Red Crayola (then called Krayola for legal issues) were for-out experimenters. Forget breaking the rules, Red Crayola don’t seem to have realised there were rules to begin with. The group would reform when bandleader Mayo Thompson joined Rough Trade records. Punk pioneers MC5 began as a simple Garage band – best exhibited here on the explosive cover of ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’. On full blast this track might make your ears bleed.
Finally – The Kingsmen’s definite cover of ‘Louie Louie’. Along with fellow Northwest group The Wailers, this band basically invented Garage Rock and thus a musical language what would enable the angry, politicised rhetoric of Punk.
Any thoughts, comments, criticisms or suggestions about the playlist are welcome. Come back next week for a new playlist, which will compile the best (and worst) of Greg Ginn’s SST Records.
Oi! Oi! Oi!