Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Louie Is Dead; The Dangerous Garage Rock of the 60s

When the nuclear family wasn't huddled around a monopoly board , laughing heartily and enjoying each other's company by the glare of a warm fire in a tidy suburban house, they were engaging in vandalism, the devil's reefer, switch-blade thrusting, and homo-sexing. All of those public service announcements warning the children about devil-worship and LSD were all for naught, for the children were already far beyond corrupted. Not only were they corrupted, but they had guitars, drums, and a garage.

Old timey rock n'roll wasn't potent enough for this, arguably the very first generation of teenagers. For the first time in history, the gap between childhood and adulthood needed to be defined in some way. Historically, there was no room for the teenager, there wasn't enough money for education and so adulthood came in the form of a shovel thrust into the hands of a son and a pair of kitchen gloves onto the hands of a daughter. Everyone had to have their place in a highly paranoid post-WWII America, a nation made only more paranoid by its new enemies in Vietnam. The mother served as the rosy-cheeked housekeeper, with her floral apron, bright red lips, and her ceaseless Tylenol smile. The father? Well when he wasn't flipping through the day's paper with a hot mug of coffee, he was pitching marketing plans to big tobacco companies or thrusting a nine-inch combat knife into the throat of a Vietnamese child. The kids? Well some of them threw papers onto suburban porches, and others threw excessive and debauched parties on moonlit beaches.

The 60s had arrived and so had the teenager, and with them they brought rock n' roll and the devil's regards.

The Sonics

Often cited as the very first punk band, The Sonics encompassed the teenage experience with songs about insatiable sexual hunger, crippling boredom, and getting high on chemicals that could potentially kill you within seconds. Their original run lasted eight years starting from 1960 and would pave the way for the hideously malformed rock n' roll of bands like The Stooges and The MC5.

The Satans

Not much is known about The Satans, in fact, not much is known about many of the bands on this list, but what is known is that The Satans' signature tune may very well have influenced The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil". Can you guess his name? Yes you can, it's Mick Jagger, and he basically stole this song.

The Swamp Rats

Listening to The Swamp Rats, you can't ignore the influence they had on psychedelic and noise rock. The band formed after the demise of a popular and far more clean-cut group called The Dee Jays (Who even opened up for The Stones). With their squealing guitar feedback and a drum sound akin to a brick smashing through a window, these vandals from Pittsburgh were playing a style of music that many others were too afraid to touch.

Randy Luck

Again, I couldn't find much on Randy Luck, but with a song about beating up your girlfriend, engaging in BDSM activities, and generally being a menace to society, I couldn't leave him/them off the list. With eerie, lo-fi guitar-driven spookiness coming right out of a drive-in theatre in 1958, Randy Luck, whoever or whatever you are, the 80s Batcave scene owes itself to you.

The Rockin' Ramrods

Fuzzier than a vintage porno and pulsating with teenage angst and heartbreak, if pop-punk were to suddenly implode, you could build it right back up with The Rockin' Ramrods as the foundation. Unfortunately, this was another band that fell into obscurity, perhaps due to the shadow cast over them by the more popular group The Ramrods, who were also doing the rounds on the garage scene at the time.

Fifty Foot Hose

Nestling themselves in the more psychedelic and experimental areas of the garage scene, Fifty Foot Hose sold acid through their unorthodox and 'hip' sound. Unlike many other bands at the time, the group had managed to masterfully weave electronics and vocal effects into their music and produce a far more intense psychedelia that was being produced at the time, a psychedelia that they continue to peddle to this very day.

The Litter

Unfortunately for The Litter, their popularity today can be credited to the swamp whore Courtney Love's cover of their song "Codine". Nonetheless, The Litter, arriving at the latter end of the 60s, were just in time to plunge into the bottomless pool of tie-dye and warm mud that was the Summer of love. While they weren't exactly the most taboo of bands at the time, especially with Fifty Foot Hose and others on the scene, The Litter can still be remembered as one of the first bands to handcuff the snotty and slowly dying garage rock sound to the peaking trip of psychedelic.

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