Like I mentioned with the switch over to the Top 1000 list, there are a number of older albums that I listened to as part of a previous blog. This was back in 2009 … and I think my views on music have changed somewhat. Or maybe not, but hey it’s good to keep crossing these off so for these three weeks will be playing a game of catch-up.
Let’s have a quick recap of the genres that have been covered so far. In no particular order we have had: jazz, blues, r&b, rock n’ roll, soul, pop, bossa nova, African music, folk, country and chanson. Not too bad a selection so far bearing in mind that not even 50 albums have yet reviewed, with the landmark occurring tomorrow. I like to think that through the meandering through these different genres, whether they be live or not, that I have been fair to each and every album without being that prejudiced.
With that in mind it is time to add one more genre to the list with Here Are The Sonics being the first true punk album on the list. When most people think of punk, myself included, it is hard not to first envisage the contorted face of John Lydon as he screams along to ‘Anarchy In The U.K’. Either that or the punk-pop, in the forms of Green Day and Sum 41, that pepper the airwaves. Well all of these acts have The Sonics to thank for the birth of punk, an act who went quickly into obscurity.
Punk isn’t a genre I can usually savour, Green Day’s American Idiot is usually as far as I go and that really isn’t punk, and I will also grant you that Here Are The Sonics isn’t true punk either. However, what we have here is what is referred to as protopunk meaning that these are the roots from which all future punk, whether it be Patti Smith or Blink-182, are derived from. As such this contains many elements of contemporary music, including many covers of rock n’ roll and blues standards, but the arrangements are now different. The music is louder, the lead singer screams, the drumming is primal and the guitars are almost turned up to 11.
What The Sonics have here is the makings of a very good album, the thing that lets it down are the covers, with some of these songs such as ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Money’ and ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ having all been on a few previous albums. While the first two of these aren’t songs I particularly like I can say with ease that their transition to protopunk isn’t an easy one with these covers sounding flat and uninspired. I draw special attention to ‘Walkin’ The Dog’ where the incessant whistling got very old very quickly.
The real strength of the album lies entrenched in the original material, a particular favourite of mine being ‘Strychnine’. These are the songs where The Sonics are truly able to express their abilities as a band. These songs are bizarre and allow for the animalistic parts of the band to come out to shine. The opener of ‘The Witch’ is a fantastic example of this random guitar solos, screams and all.
Personally, an album that greater embraced this primal side of the band without having to please the record company with the more mundane covers would have been greater appreciated. This is a band that really showed such great potential but with members running off to university this band died an early death which is a real shame. I guess I shall have to find solace in the punk children that I will encounter.