One thing music lovers will always enjoy doing is discussing the origins and traces of the music they love. And while it’s obviously easy to blabber on and on in retrospect about how ‘important’ and ‘influential’ certain artists were in crafting the music we love, in reality it is a different thing to put into practice. But yes, in the late 60’s and 70’s a bunch of outsider musicians were enduring hatred, abuse, spit and physical beatings because they believed in their music and wanted to shock and disgust people. Here is my homage to they, the unappreciated.

Boots made, presumably, for walking.

#7: The Castaways – Liar, Liar (1965)

The Castaways here, looking less like actual castaways, and more like socially rigid momma's boyz. Bless'em.

To anyone who has heard the first entry on the list, it may be a puzzle. Seemingly innocuous subject matter teamed with inoffensive and somewhat ‘hip’ mid 60’s fare. Nothing new there. But not so, ‘Liar, Liar’ is a perfect example of bands less musically inclined than the Beatles, taking their ground-breaking musical formulas and producing something entirely new, twisted and raw. If nothing else, ‘Liar, Liar’ succeeds in just that – being a mashed up and warped version of popular garage, played through a cracked speaker.

#6: The Seeds – Evil Hoodoo (1966)

Sky (presumably high) Saxon, of The Seeds

‘Evil Hoodoo’ really changed the whole process of garage rock for young bands across America. Fuzzy guitar, drawled vocals, and that (to be expected) not so polished sound, all combine to produce an early garage classic, one that’s raw and primal impact has barely dented a day in well over 40 years. Revel in the hypnotic backing vocals which don’t quite fit, the mesmeric drone and riff of all instruments crashing and cascading as one. The Seeds’ are a band who, although quite still quite forgotten by punk fans at large, hold much sway over modern punk, even if you don’t realise it, and this is the best place to start.

#5: The Stooges – Not Right (1969)

There is absolutely no way I would ever drive in a car with Iggy Pop.

Fuck ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ or ‘1969’. Not Right is where the Stooges lack of technical musicianship met their over ambitious drug consumption, and it sounds all the better for it. Drums that stop start like a rave track, Iggy moaning about girls that don’t put out, and a guitar solo that sounds like it was recorded underwater (electric current still very much passing through it’s player). What more could you possibly want?

#4: Suicide – Ghost Rider (1977) 

A caption that exists solely to put across my ineffable love for Suicide.

I take considerable license with this inclusion, but seen as Suicide had been operating in some form or other from as early as 1971, I think it’s a justified one. Ghost Rider is as frantic and deranged a two and a half minutes in music you could wish to encounter, pulsing with eerie and unpleasant synth that sounds like an air raid siren, a chirpy (but nonetheless, ominous) buzz synth blazing away above all the clattering mess. And then Alan Vega, rockabilly-alien-cyber-freak-punk Alan Vega. Screaming the truth and yelping incoherently. It is seriously the most desperate and intense 2 and a half minutes committed to tape ever, you are living a lie if you don’t check it out.

#3: The Sonics – Psycho (1965)

Of note: all their hair is dark (black/brunette), not in fact blue and spiky. They are also not hedgehogs, but that IS Dr. Eggman in the background. Oh no it's a bird.

I have to still pinch myself to this day in order to accept that ‘Here Come the Sonics’ is from 1965. It is so blisteringly raw and utterly rebellious that only listening to it can begin to put across the respect I have for it’s intense battering ram music philosophy, which funnily still sounds more extreme than anything Slayer or Megadeth have ever done. Psycho though, is a neat cut, famous for it’s awesome barrell-emptying drum beat that finishes each verse, the one which is soon followed by the most insanely frenzied yelp of ‘WOWWWW psycho!’. Wow indeed.

#2: The Velvet Underground – Run Run Run (1967)

Cale, Morrison and Reed. Looking annoyingly cool effortlessly.”] You didn’t genuinely think you could get this far into a list about proto-punk without hearing of the Velvet Underground did you? Regardless of your expectations, the VU were truly pioneers, firm and thorough in their belief of ‘trying out anything once‘. Sometimes for kicks, and sometimes with devastatingly defeatist consequences; see ‘Run Run Run’ for a summation of that zenith which punk rock apparently reached at the close of the 1970’s. It’s droning guitar, battering ram drums and esoteric lyrics were all replicated less than 10 years after it’s release, a tradition which continues to this very day, there really is no run run running from this behemoth of a track.

#1: The Monks – I Hate You (1966)

There is something inherently very cool about being in a band whose gimmick is to dress as monks. Beats the shit out of 'being cool layabout heroin addicts/welsh'.

Despite a few mainstream nods of approval (Big Lebowski, covers by The Fall, et,. al), The Monks have largely remained an unearthed monolith of a different time and era. American G.I.’s living in Germany, touring and recording, the Monks were allowed to develop, unchecked, totally independent of any scene whatsoever. Their music has such a streak of genius, as well as pure insanity and carnage that it’s hard to comprehend that they were releasing music at the same time as The Beatles were in their wetback stage of ‘We Can Work it Out’, whilst Sinatra was crooning ‘Strangers in the Night’ and twee folksters Simon and Garfunkel had coughed out  ‘The Sound of Silence’. The Monks, unabashed, crafted their debut album, an album that, even now, sounds as abrasive, self destructive, and gleefully anarchic as anything released since. The band’s one and only release ‘Black Monk Time’ is really hard to get hold of, but worth it; it truly is an astounding album, one worth checking out for any serious music fan or punk.

Advertisements