May 17, 2014

The Big Transition — Garage Rock

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The rock of the fifties all but disappeared in the sixties with the advent of Motown and other R & B acts.  While The Beatles changed all that, there were several other acts that laid the ground work for the more progressive form of rock that dominated the 70’s.

One of the measuring sticks as to what is really classic rock and what isn’t is just how far they strayed from their Garage Rock roots. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks (whose early songs were among the very best Garage Rock ever), The Animals were all part of an influence often called Garage Rock.   While these UK rock groups had more staying power, not all the Garage Rock Bands were part of the British Invasion. 

All across the US, groups that were primarily very young performers who often learned their craft by practicing in a garage, starting making the charts.  The music was raw and loose, but generated new excitement into the music.

The US groups may not have been as well-known as their UK counterparts.  Many had the life span of a one hit wonders, but some the very best of Garage Rock hits came out of the US.  

Perhaps the starting point could be a group from the Pacific Northwest called The Kingsmen.  In 1963 their big hit called “Louie; Louie” went to number two on the singles charts and stayed there for two weeks. In typical Garage Rock fashion, their lyrics were almost impossible to understand. Still, the record was considered by many radio stations as being lewd and was banned. 

Here’s a list of some of the very best Garage Rock songs:

You Really Got Me -The Kinks

96 Tears -  ? and the Mysterians

Double Shot – The Swingin Medallions

Liar, Liar - The Castaways

She’s About a Mover - Sir Douglas Quintet (who has never been given the credits he deserved in Rock history).

Journey to the Center of Your Mind - The Amboys Dukes (with Ted Nugent)

Little Girl - The Syndicate of Sound

Hungry - Paul Revere and The Raiders (while they had a slicker sound they still embodied Garage Rock in many of their songs).

Gloria - The Shadows of Knight (their cover of the Van Morrison / Them song was a bigger hit than the original).

Lies – The Knickerbockers

The Leaves - Hey Joe

Devil in the Blue Dress - Mitch Ryder

Shakin’ All Over - The Guess Who

All Day and All of the Night - The Kinks

I had Too Much to Dream Last Night - The Electric Prunes

Keep on Dancing -The Gentrys

Dirty Water - The Standells

Just Like Me - Paul Revere and The Raiders

Psychotic Reaction - Count Five

Pushin' Too Hard - The Seeds

This is hardly a complete list.  Feel free to add your own favorites. Garage Rock is still around today. The best examples are Jack White and The White Stripes or The Black Keys.  

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