Saturday, February 22, 2014
Track of the Week: The Chocolate Watch Band "Dark Side of the Mushroom"
Sometime early in the year 2000 I picked up a used copy of the first volume of the original Nuggets compilation, mostly out of curiosity. I was quickly blown away, and bought the four disc Rhino box set and started tracking down albums by The Standells and The Electric Prunes. In case you don't know, the Nuggets series compiles "garage rock" 45s from the period between 1965 and 1968, an era when thousands of young men inspired by the Beatles and Stones picked up guitars and did their best imitations with fuzzy guitars and brash organs. They were usually less adept, but louder and full of energy. While they couldn't necessarily put out an album's worth of quality stuff (except for maybe The Sonics), almost all of these groups had a great 45 in them. Nobody really remembers Mouse and the Traps, but "Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice" is one helluva barn burner.
Around that same time I really started getting into classic soul music, another genre where great singles are prized more than albums. I began to think that as I much as I liked albums, that they were overrated and focusing too much on album artists had caused me to miss the embarrassment of riches that was sixties garage rock.
The Chocolate Watch Band from California derived their name from a joke referencing the The Strawberry Alarm Clock, whose "Incense and Peppermints" was one of the breakout psychedelic hits. The CWB had a brutal sound, and lead singer Dave Aguilar sounded like a more menacing version of Mick Jagger. (Take a listen to "Are You Gonna Be There At The Love In?" for proof.) He doesn't sing on "Dark Side of the Mushroom," a gloomy instrumental that sounds like a hangover after the love in, and one I like to listen to on the train into work on days when I am feeling particularly tired.