The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics - Review
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critics' view

Whilst mere Rock n Rollers were getting their kicks on route 66, these reckless thrill seekers from Tacoma, Washington were extoling the virtues of necking straight Strychnine. Their alternative approach is apparent at every turn on this blinding debut set, released on their mates’ label, Etiquette Records, run by Kent Morrill and Buck Ormsby of The Wailers. After 3 years of self-releases, The Sonics were the first non-Wailers band on the label; Kent and Buck knew they had found worthy stablemates. First fruits were “The Witch”, a local smash in the fall of ’64, and “Psycho” which electrified the whole of the North West upon its release early in ’65. From thereon, the question of an LP being a viable production was a no-brainer. As an excited Buck later recalled: “We didn’t care if it bled. I wanted to hear sweat dropping on the tape”.

The 5-piece, seemingly hell bent on their mission to annihilate Rock n Roll, were: Gerry Roslie (organ, piano, lead vocals); Andy Parypa (bass guitar); Larry Parypa (lead guitar, vocals); Rob Lind (saxophone, vocals, harmonica) and Bob Bennett (drums). The LP was produced at Audio Recording in Seattle, Washington, with famed Pacific Northwest recording engineer Kearney Barton. People often remark on how fantastic the drums sound on this record, and it’s very true; the fact that it was recorded on a two-track tape recorder, with only one microphone to pick up the entire drum kit makes a mockery of studios ten times the price which often end up sounding twice as dull. Speaking to the Seattle Times some 20 years later, the boys revealed some more of their trade secrets; Andy Parypa: “If our records sound distorted, it’s because they are. My brother was always fooling around with the amps. They were always overdriven. Or he was disconnecting the speakers and poking a hole in them with an ice-pick. That’s how we ended up sounding like a train wreck”. Larry Parypa: “We were nasty. Everything you’ve heard people say about us is true”. Andy Parypa: “I mean the Sonics were savage!” Gerry Roslie: “When we played I would scream! Well, I would scream my brains out trying to be as loud and strong as I could.”

In truth, the electrifying dynamism from the whole group was backed up by no little ability and a cracking set of songs, including four of their own, each of the all-time classic variety; “The Witch” (9.5), “Boss Hoss” (9.7); Psycho (10) and “Strychnine” (9.7). Best of the covers are “Do You Love Me” (The Contours, 1962) – always an edgier Motown number, but pushed to its outer limits here – and “Have Love Will Travel” (Richard Berry and The Pharaohs, 1959) which finds these alpha males strutting like peacocks. It’s their pop concession.

There’s been Punks in music ever since the jass and blues explosion of the 20s, but this lot were the leading lights of the first Punk Rock order. ‘Til now, The Wailers and The Kingsmen, although dynamic in patches, could only dream of delivering a full-length sonic statement as potent as this one. “Here Comes The Sonics” was truly the first LP that set the benchmark for Punk Rock; from beginning to end this was an adrenalin-fuelled barrage of hard and fast, crunched-up, scuzzed-out psycho-bastard Rock n Roll. Resistance is futile – turn it up!

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