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Music News

Review: The Sonics by Nic Howden

I just want to stay in the Garage all night…
Formed in 1960 the Sonics pre-date the Stones, but while the Londoners headed upstairs as fast as their feet/their finances/the blues would carry them, the stuttering Tacoma, Washington five piece kept to the garage. 
 
Overlooked by Lenny Kaye compiling the Nuggets album, ‘Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era’, the sound, and attitude, of the first two Sonics’ LPs, think prime, bawling Little Richard meets the Kinks’ You Really Got Me, dug the foundations for garage rock.
 
Those short, fast songs about witches, pychos, poison, love and lust, the clipped, crunchy guitar riffs, the pile driving rhythm section and the tenor sax left a fast mark on Springsteen, Nirvana, White Stripes and LCD Soundsystem, while the Cramps, L7, Mudhoney, the Flaming Lips and the Fall are just a handful of the bands to cover the Sonics’ seminal Strychnine. ‘Some folks like water, Some folks like wine, But I like the taste, Of straight strychnine (hey, hey)’.
 
This isn’t a history lesson though. Those are simply some of the reasons they pull a capacity crowd at the Garage, where else, across the road from Highbury & Islington tube, and a shit hot support band. Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind wear their Sonics’ influence as openly as the big, chunky jewellery hanging around their necks.
 
Produced by Dirtbombs’ bassist Jim Diamond, comeback album This Is The Sonics, released 49 years after its predecessor, features three of the original band but only sax player/harp player/occasional singer Rob Lind is still doing the rounds. Clean, suited and thick set, with a smile set to ‘on’, Lind looks like a senior news anchor. He does the talking, harking back to the old days, acknowledging the passion of the capital crowd and introducing the songs if drummer, Dusty Watson, gives him long enough. 
 
There are plenty of covers in a Sonics’ set, C’mon Everybody, Lucille, Louie Louie, Sugaree and a determined take on Ray Charles’ I Don’t Need No Doctor, which smacks of the Feelgoods, among them at the Garage. Everything is ‘Sonicised’ though, as Lind puts it, injected with a new adrenaline. 
 
Bass, sax and keys all sing but Evan Martin of the Boss Martians, who handles guitar/vocals, is perfect cover for erstwhile axeman Gerry Roslie and former keys/singer Larry Parypa.
 
The Sonics play fucking loud too, from fizzing start to fizzing three-song finish. Teenagers/20-somethings at the front throw themselves around and the quiffs, leathers and bigger builds packed in behind would too, if they could. 
 
The Garage is the perfect venue for a gig like this; the sightlines, the sound and the atmosphere is fantastic, from front to back, and the cheers/whoops don’t stop as the band take their bows. London loves the Sonics.
 
“We’re in Manchester tomorrow otherwise we’d play for another two hours,” Lind beams afterwards. “I’d like to check out some of your pubs too.” And we all drink to that.

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