Shit-Fi Mixtape #3
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The third shit-fi virtual mixtape is dedicated exclusively to ‘60s garage punk. I have tried to seek out some of the most primitive, inept, lo-fi, and proto-punk tunes among the thousands of sides released in the mid-‘60s. In general, ‘60s garage punk, which is a broad term with many possible interpretations, comprises a great deal of amateur, noncommercial, homegrown, untalented, and derivative rocknroll. A great deal changed in the music industry between the mid ‘60s and the punk explosion, so ineptitude in the ‘60s probably should not be thought of in the same way as the reactionary ineptitude of ‘70s punk. Still, even in the ‘60s, there was bad and there was bad—and, of course, the baddest are among the most loved today. Consider this an introduction to the shit-fi aspect of ‘60s garage for those who may be well-informed about obscure punk or hardcore and are interested in learning about its shit-fi forebears. It’s not meant to be thorough or definitive, just, I hope, a killer listen. Where applicable, I’ve included the record’s ranking on the G45 list of top garage records in parentheses after the band name. (I highly recommend reading this list closely, as it is one of the best resources on this music and also one of the coolest examples of record collectors doing good.)
Might as well start off at the top of the shit-heap: Teenaged Randy Alvey and the Green Fuz (17), from Texas 1966, whose “Green Fuz” was recorded in a stone-walled diner, are responsible for one of the most primitive and otherworldly records of the ‘60s. It was reissued on a 45 by Norton and is still widely available. Not particularly primitive, but extremely aggressive and irate, even with socially directed lyrics more typical to punk rock, “Social End Product” by New Zealand’s Blue Stars was included on the compilation “Trans-World Punk Rave-Up” #2 LP. Sing along with Missouri’s Cholos, if you can call this singing. Air guitar along too—sike. Still, despite the ineptitude, I find “Last Laugh” from 1966 stuck in my head all the time. Hear it on “Teenage Shutdown: ‘No Tease…’” LP. From the same compilation, here is The Mere Existence with “The World Still Turns.” Seems like they dealt with the pain of their mere existence by taking copious ‘ludes, especially the, uh, crooner. I wish I could’ve witnessed his surely charismatic stage presence. Hopefully, the screaming on “To Find Out” by The Keggs (15) will reinvigorate you. A bonzerfied unpolished lo-fi classic rarity among collectors, it has luckily been booted multiple times and can be found easily (the song’s also on “Back from the Grave” #5 LP). The Sloths (3)produced the rarest and most desirable picture sleeve 45 of the garage era according to the G45 list, and “Makin’ Love” is a stomping killer that captures the slight menace, which may or may not have been real, that imbued rocknroll before the hippie era (see Joyce Carol Oates’s classic short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” for more on that menace). Hear the singer’s lispy imprecations on “Back from the Grave” #4 LP. Perhaps the only creature less rockin’ than the sloth is the snail. Yet, if you add alcohol, Snails apparently are capable of chaos. I wonder if the crapulence associated with “Snails Love Theme” ever impaired their potency. Check it on “Back from the Grave” #7 2xLP. Peru’s Los Saicos penned “Demolicíon” in 1965 about blowing up a train station (it became a minor hit in Madrid among the truly tasteless after the bombings in 2004): truly sublime, extraordinarily raw, and punk as fuck. A Saicos discography 10" came out on Munster a couple years ago. One of my favorite garage tunes is “Rats Revenge” by The Rats, though it seems that serious garage-heads consider it to be a novelty track. This cheap-beer snot party spreads across two sides of a 45. Here’s the first half, which receives frequent plays at Shit-Fi HQ. Every time I listen, another nuance reveals itself. Check it out on “Back from the Grave” #1 LP (and check out how their manager then looks like President Bush now). In a search for proto-punk, I read about the extremely obscure 45 by Skip Ellis (215). This record has never been reissued, but some kind soul (whose name I have forgotten) shared an MP3 of it on the Garage Punk Forums. “Ice Cube Girl” is a lo-fi cacophony with ‘tude to spare. Prefiguring The Door And The Window by a decade and change, Kim Fowley (possibly the sleaziest man ever to slink around the planet) gathered some women off the street and made them sing back-up vocals on “Worse Record Ever Made” (yes, that’s right), issued under the name Althea and the Memories. It appeared on “Girls in the Garage” #1 LP. Finally, it just doesn’t get any better, or worse, than The Modds (50). Insane fuzz and howling bile seem to have been smeared atop a perfectly respectable garage tune after the singer’s sweetie done him wrong. The solo beats just about anything since and makes my blood perk-u-late. This beshitted song was included on “Teenage Shutdown: ‘Target: Fuzz’” LP. Garage experts, I’d love to hear suggestions for lo-fi garage disasters I missed.