Tag Archives: Garage rock

The Mourning Reign in the Garage

4 Jan

So many of our obscure classic rock posts have come from the garage thus far I think I should make a separate category profiling garage-rock bands of the mid 60s. Before the psychedelic revolution there was a large focus on the garage-rock sound (around 1963-1967). The British Invasion – specifically “beat” groups like the Rolling Stones, The Animals, and the Kinks had a large influence on these bands, as did folk-rock groups that were beginning to experiment in America. This mishmash of influences helped form famous garage-rock bands like the Kingsmen, The Count Five, The Syndicate of Sound, and the Leaves (and even the Troggs in Britain). This genre of music provided much inspiration to the future punk music movement and it also laid a foundation for the soon-to-be psychedelic movement which sparked in popularity during the years of around 1966-1970.

But – like with any popular genre – there were bands that fell through the cracks. Today we are going to take a look at the Mourning Reign, a San Jose band that formed in 1965 and broke up in 1969. This band combined the fuzz of garage rock with folk rock. They even played around with hints of psychedelic music.

The band was made up of:

Lead/Rhythm Guitarists: Johnnie Bell, Tom O’Bonsawin, Steve Canali

Rhythm Guitar/Vocals/keyboardist: Jay Garrett

 

Bass Guitarist Charlie Gardin

Drummer Craig Maggi — Mike Hossack (Doobie Brothers)

Lead Vocalist Beau Maggi

 

Let’s listen to some tracks.

The first few notes of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” scream garage rock. A fuzzy guitar and well-defined bass provide the rhythmic backing to the introduction. Everything about this song is typical garage sound – from the Jagger-like vocals (which I must say are very well done by Beau Maggi) to the choral harmony. When I first listened to this I thought that it sounded like some song – and then I quickly realized it sounds like 100-or-so songs I know and listen to. So where does it differ? The multiple-guitar solo is wonderful and atypical. This band had a surplus of guitarists and they used them to their advantage. That may be the best part of the song which otherwise is simply a solid, enjoyable garage track.

“Light Switch,” which appears on the same EP, immediately takes a 180 degree turn. It makes you perk up. The band takes from its folk-rock influences, but, more from early 60’s pop melody. The vocal harmonies are fantastic. They are tight and, wait, what was that. Is that a church bell and a plucked acoustic and an accordion. The song transforms into this odd progressive (even psychedelic) segment halfway through and this leads up to rising percussion and a Phil Spector-like wall-of-sound vocal moment briefly. This is an oddly prescient segment. The song ends on a guitars ominous twang. Absolutely the best song by The Mourning Reign and one that should be listened to by all.

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What is the Best 1960’s Psychedelic Sub-Genre

15 May

Every post I do about psychedelic music must be prefaced by a piece of computer psychedelic artwork. It is a necessity. Over the past couple of weeks, I have put together posts for the section entitled “60’s Psychedelic Experiment – What is 60s Psychedelic Music.” The section has explored numerous types of psychedelic music. Most similarly to Indie music today, Psychedelic music was a fad genre that took on several sub-genres. I say “fad” genre because it is not a main modern music genre like pop, rock or blues. Psychedelic music was a rather obscure genre that took shape because of its temporary popularity.

I love psychedelic music. It is one of the reasons why I first got into listening to true classic rock (rock before 1973 with the exception of a few bands like Boston and Thin Lizzy). The question that I pose in this poll is what is the best type of 1960s psychedelic music. There are more sub-genres than options in the poll below, but since psychedelic music spawns genres within genres (an Inception twist), I’d rather keep it simple. Plus, remember, we are not including sub-genres like Kraut Rock, Art Rock, and Progressive Rock, because besides a few early examples, these sub-genres burgeoned in the 1970s, uncharted territory for this post. Below are a few big sub-genres that contain most psychedelic songs. I will include an example of the genre as well. Happy Voting.

Psychedelic Folk: “Elevator Man” by Kaleidoscope

Psychedelic Garage Rock: “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by 13th Floor Elevators

Psychedelic Soul: “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone

Psychedelic Pop: “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock

Psychedelic Acid Rock: “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix Experience


“You’re Gonna Miss Me” by 13th Floor Elevators – Early Psychedelic Garage Rock

8 Mar

Okocim issued a challenge in his last post. He posed the broad question, what is the 60’s psychedelic music? As a single question, I believe it is impossible to answer. The genre expanded into many sub-sections and there is not one sole example of 60’s psychedelic music that I can give to him and say this is your answer. The sub-sections make 60’s psychedelic music unique. Because, in itself, psychedelic cannot be a genre. Psychedelic becomes a genre when it pairs with a type of music (like rock or pop). Therefore, the music is always perpetuating more sub genres because in order to survive it needs to. Following my thinking?

This is why I find psychedelic music (specifically of the 60s variety) to be so intriguing. Psychedelic, in itself, can be esoteric and abstruse. In order to make rock or pop psychedelic, a musician needs to add an oddness to the melodic structure, thereby expanding the listeners mind. Yes, a lot has to do with drugs, but a perfectly sober listener (like myself) can get just as much out of it. The music itself is a drug.

I could not turn down Okocim’s challenge though. I proposed in my comment to him a new sub-section of “Journey To The Center of the Mind” called “The 60’s Psychedelic Experiment.” Damn, this post already sounds like “Inception,” a section inside a genre inside a section. That is what psychedelic music is, in a way. It delves deep into music’s structure, like a genetic mutation, and morphs it into something different (either slightly or tremendously).

I am going to answer Okocim’s question of what is 60’s psychedelic music by exploring different songs by different artists over the course of several weeks, answering the question of what makes it “psychedelic” and what specific genre it finds itself swimming in. We begin with one of the aboriginal psychedelic bands, hailing from Texas (starting in 1965), the 13th Floor Elevators.

At the beginning of the psychedelic rock revolution, the psychedelic garage rock component was strong. Garage rock is generally raw and easily tourable. It needs no special studio effects and is solid the way it is. This made it an easy for psychedelic music to manipulate. It was not the first of its kind, this still being reserved for psychedelic folk that came on the scene 1-2 years earlier. But, it is the first example of psychedelic rock. The Cream and the Beatles would explore psychedelic attributes in their music at around the same time, but of the limited examples of 1965-66 psychedelic music, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” the 13th Floor Elevators 1966 single, is the best example of early psychedelic garage rock (a sub-section of a sub-section).

Now when I say garage rock, I am talking about the genre that formed in the late 50s, but really blossomed in 1963. Think of “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen. It is that ol’fashioned rock. That’s why many consider garage rock to be the distant ancestor of punk, because of its chordal simplicity.

13th Floor Elevators came on the scene two years after garage rock’s blossoming and they transformed the genre with a psychedelic component.

The question posed by Okocim is basically what makes this (and any other song during the time period) 60’s psychedelic and how did it help form the term “60’s psychedelic music” which is just way to large to ever conquer.

Well, the first four chords sounds like a variation of the Yardbirds “For Your Love” which was released a year earlier. The guitar is amplified with a little reverb and a slight echo. Their bluesy sound is original. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top cites the guitar work as inspirational.

At around 6 seconds, you hear this muffled noise in the background of Roky Erickson and Stacy Sutherland Gibson guitars. That is an electric jug of Tommy Hall. Hall created vocalized sound with the jug that gave each song an underground stutter. This is paired with Erickson’s powerful voice (with bluesy screams).

Hall also inspired band members to record and perform music while on LSD, which was unique during the time.

The best psychedelic rock example occurs at the breakdown at 1:30. Listen to the combination of time. The electric jug competes with the drums while the voices sing “I’m Not Coming Home.” This takes in the psychedelic effect. The jug combined with the reverbed guitars do this. It is garage psychedelic because it is simple, but, it is different from typical garage rock examples because it adds different elements that make the music more acid-inspired and art-based.

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