How is it possible to pick just one album as a favourite? Scan your brain. The records that you really like, you like for different reasons. The sensitive lyrics of one, the punk rock energy of another. The sentimental value of where you were or what you were doing, or even what was happening in the midst of a particular purchase. All factors. All different. Do you really own just one that combines everything you appreciate about music? If you did would you still need to keep buying more? I don’t know if I could even pick five without giving myself an ulcer.

And now, with all of this in mind, it dawns on me that sometimes the most obvious choices, wind up being the least obvious, and the overriding reason why I must give credit where credit is truly due. The Sonics. Quite simply, the absolute foundation for everything I know and love about punk rock and garage music today.

My major problem in choosing an older garage/punk album like “Here are the Sonics” is the sense of guilt I feel in never having been there. Where was I in 1965 when this record was released? Not even nearly a glimmer in my mother’s eye, let alone an ensuing accident many years later so I definitely feel a lot of remorse in the sense that I have no original claim on this record. But whether directly or indirectly, the Sonics are nevertheless the reason that I continue to love so much other music as well, in addition to theirs, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The Sonics came together out of Tacoma, Washington, back in the days when playing high school dances and proms could somehow morph one of your singles into a chart hit, essentially what happened with “The Witch”, and then followed shortly thereafter by “Psycho”. A musical reputation that you garnered through playing Dance Halls, and then knowing that you’d arrived when you opened for the Beach Boys. “Here are the Sonics” is a classic record, their debut album from 1965. And the Sonics are clearly the progenitors of heavy guitar distortion American punk rock, something that for the mid-sixties was definitely out of the ordinary, and well before bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash came on the scene as the godfathers of punk rock. The obvious British Invasion influences are all here as well: The Beatles and The Kinks, in particular. The Norton re-issue of this lp has added to it classics like Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin’”, as well as a couple of “Christmas” tracks: “Santa Claus” and “Don’t Believe in Christmas”, the latter of which was considered to be controversial at the time. Every song though naturally has the Sonics’ dirty, noisy spin added on them, screaming at the top of their lungs and played as loud as amplifiers would allow. But the Sonics at that point weren’t deemed all that radio-friendly (go-figure…), and their fame back then never spread much beyond the Pacific Northwest.

It’s mind-boggling that an album recorded in about 6 hours flat on a two-track (yes, two track) could have such a huge effect on the shape of music to come, but every band I like today I know that I like based on those original influences. And the true knockouts on this album are the Sonics own original tracks: 'Boss Hoss', 'Psycho', 'Strychnine', 'The Witch', 'Have Love Will Travel', and almost every present day garage band tends to have at least one of these in their practicing repertoire. Not to mention the countless covers done by everyone from the Fuzztones to the Young Fresh Fellows, their influence is just that elementary. There was also a tribute album that came out awhile ago called “Here Ain’t the Sonics”, whose title readily implies a mouthful, proving that very few can actually pull it off like the Sonics.

It’s heavy, beautiful, catchy, timeless, danceable distortion. “Here are the Sonics” is my collection “staple”. Without it there can be no collection.









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ie London, England

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