Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Tuneage
The Swinging Machine - "Do You Have To Ask"

American garage band rock 'n' roll of the mid-sixties was, in the words of Dave Marsh: "Somewhat bluesy, somewhat psychedelic, always amateurish, and for the most part, utterly unself-conscious in (its) naivete." Garage rock has lived on all these decades later as an American tradition, both as music and as a social bond. Lester Bangs: "Call up a bunch of your buddies, get some six-packs or some weed, plus a guitar or two, a bass or drum kit, and you've got instant fantasies about instant stardom."

An "instant stardom" gambit that was played by quite a few of the original generation of garage rockers was when they attempted to ape an artist far, far above them on the Rock Ladder. A fun parlor game to play with some mid-sixties garage rockers is to match them up with what sixties music icon they were trying to emulate. To wit:

The Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction": The Yardbirds
The Knickerbockers' "Lies": The Beatles
The Chocolate Watchband's "Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love In)": The Rolling Stones
Mouse's "A Public Execution": Bob Dylan

The other night on Bill Kelly's show on SiriusXM 21, I heard The Swinging Machine doing "Do You Have To Ask" and I realized that sixties garage rock had someone trying to be The Animals. Sure, the keyboard could be a little more prominent in the mix, but the singer bears an uncanny resemblance to Eric Burdon, there's that verge-of-chaos background singing going on, and like with The Animals: No matter the subject matter there is always a hint (or more) of menace. Two minutes of rock 'n' roll genius.