What we’re listening to (#11): “Here Are The Sonics” by The Sonics

The Sonics are an American garage rock band who were most active in the 1960s, but still tour today. Here Are The Sonics was their aggressive debut album and featured a various mix of their own hard-edged numbers as well as a few rock-infused covers of songs by Richard Berry, Chuck Berry, The Fabulous Wailers and others.

They’re seen as pioneers of the punk genre, and have influenced many an artist, including Nirvana, the White Stripes, and the Hives. Many people have argued that the Sonics were the first true punk band, and that they were more so than bands like the Kinks and the Stooges.

They recorded the album with a two-track recorder, using just one microphone to capture the percussion, but still managed to create a very full sound that’s full of grit and energy. The album is one of the crudest I’ve listened to in the genre, and, at the time, must have been shockingly explosive, with it’s talk of drug and substance abuse both inconspicuously (in ‘Psycho’) and more explicitly (in ‘Strychnine’) – of course, there’s plenty a song about love and women too, in songs like ‘Witch’.

“If you hear her knocking on your door
you’re better sneaking away” 

Really, it’s Gerry Roslie’s vocals that make this album what it is – the screaming and wailing throughout songs had never been heard before, and whilst some may argue he overdoes it on tracks like ‘The Night time is the Right Time’, that’s arguably what they’re going for; the shock factor, the goal to disorientate and surprise anyone who’s listening to them. The album is neatly summed up in their cover of the now-famous song ‘Have Love, Will Travel’ – book ended by Roslie’s shrieking and Rob Lind’s saxophone (which sounds like a slightly broken saxophone due to the terrible quality), it epitomises what the Sonics are all about.

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

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