The Leaves, Hey Joe
California’s the Leaves – never you mind what kind – went the garage-folk route. Quite the cool little hybrid. The title track was a grassier version, you might say, than something like Hendrix’s take on the standard later in the year, but rare was the garage band who would tackle Dylan, and tackle Dylan well, as the Leaves did with “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” a single commonly appended to the original LP as a bonus track. Their cover of Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” is Deep South American rhythm & blues, via English Northern soul, flecked with let’s-cut-class California sunshine.
The Music Machine, (Turn On) the Music Machine
Some songs, like the Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” and the Who’s Leeds version of “My Generation,” just make you say, “what the fuck was that?” the first time you hear them. Sean Bonniwell‘s “Talk Talk,” from this L.A. band’s debut, is one of those songs. These guys come off as total nutters at times. Like on a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry,” or a version of the Beatles’ “Taxman” that sounds like the original has been forced to take Valium and then get stomped on by a group of nascent L.A. art punks.
Question Mark and the Mysterians, 96 Tears
Hailing from Saginaw, Michigan, Rudy Martinez, lead singer of this group of organ-loving oddities, claimed to be from Mars, but if you were from Mars, would you really write a song, in the title track, which inverts the 69 sexual position and turns it into a symbol for teenage heartbreak? Who knows. These Tex-Mexers were pretty foul, but sufficiently adept that they could handle a blues like T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” which betters the Them version. And hey, “96 Tears” hit Number One on the charts, which was quite the bedpost notch for the garage crowd as a whole.
The Standells, Dirty Water
Long before it was a song played as the Red Sox walked off the field after a Fenway Park win, the title cut off the Standells’ debut was a catchy-as-fuck ode to BU coeds along the banks of the River Charles – gotta love the “classy” English phraseology – who had such early curfews. Never mind that the L.A. band hadn’t been east of the Mississippi. The song also offers a cautionary tale: It can be easy, with a garage band known for a huge hit, to think they had nothing else. This LP, though, is loaded with irascible, edgy cuts, like the blue-balls lament that is “Little Sally Tease,” and the strangely heart-rending “Why Did You Hurt Me?” You know that time after a dance when you saw the football star out back being consoled by his lineman buddy because his girl dropped him? This is a song for moments and memories like that.