The Sonics

The Sonics


The Sonics wrote, arguably, four of the greatest 60’s garage punk songs ever, Cinderella, Psycho, Strichnine and The Witch.  They wrote and covered a bunch of other fantastic songs during their short recording career in the mid-sixties and the influence of those songs and that band cannot be overstated.  The Cramps, The Dead Boys, Mudhoney, Nirvana,The Mummies, that whole 90’s garage punk scene, were all hugely influenced by the band from Tacoma, Washington.

The Sonics played harder, heavier and more distorted than any of their contemporaries at the time, and as proto punks are generally claimed to be the first garage rock band.

My introduction to The Sonics was via The Cramps cover of Strichnine, and as a result of my Cramps obsession, picking up Rockabilly Psychosis and The Garage Disease, a compilation LP put out by Big Beat Records in the 1980s which featured original tracks by the Sonics, The Novas and other off the wall artists juxtapositioned against the best of contemporary Psychobilly bands like The Guana Batz, the Meteors and The Stingrays.

The Sonics reunited in a more or less original line up (Roslie, Lind and Parypa) in 2007 for Cavestomp in NYC, their appearance was one of the highlights and was hugely anticipated. They did not disappoint. At this point I began to think there might be a slim chance I may actually get to see them, having written off any expectations of that happening years before.  An aborted show at the Ritz a few years back (due to band member illness) got me thinking it was not going to be but here we are in 2015, it’s actually happening.

The three original members are augmented by Dusty Watson  (of The Surfaris, Davie Allen, Dick Dale etc) beating the traps,  and Freddie Dennis on bass and vocals. This version of the Sonics have put out their first album of new material since 1967! The set features much of the songs from this album, but be reassured dear reader, it’s a belter. They kick off however with the unholy trinity of Cinderella, Shot Down and He’s Waitin’. Larry Parypa’s guitar sounds ferocious, distortion being wrangled from the guts of it, whilst the sax wails.

Rob Lind introduces the first track played from This Is The Sonics,  Sugaree is a great cover of the Rusty York Chess record, given a Sonics pulverising, with a great urgent vocal from Freddie Dennis.

This is no band reliving their glory days, they sound as urgent and fresh as ever.  Rob Lind recalls the state of play for the young Sonics in the early sixties, they hated the wholesome Pat Boone/Bobby Vee era crooners and played raucous versions of Little Richard songs in their set. The arrival of the British Invasion and in particular The Kinks, really gave them the inspiration they needed. They play The Kinks’ The Hard Way in acknowledgement of this, with Jerry Roslie taking vocal duties and keyboards.

Freddie Dennis introduces Louie Louie, as a song covered by many, but The Sonics version is “the Best!”  Can’t argue there. The set is rounded off with a brutal version of Psycho.

The final encore of Strichnine and their very first single, The Witch, is a blitzkrieg, a Sonic Boom in fact. Buy the new Album, you deserve it.

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Hello Robbo here, DJ at T.R.A.S.H Your Life at the Dog and Partridge in Bolton, and occasionally at Retro Bar in Manchester. Garage, punk, 60s, kitsch, library tunes, all the good stuff.. Labels: InTheRed, Goner, Swami, Sympathy, Estrus, AMREP, Domino, Touch & Go, Dischord, Rough Trade. Shops: Beatin Rhythmn, Vinyl Exchange, Fopp, Charity, Vintage.