The Knickerbockers

One Track Mind: The Garage Pop Sound of the Knickerbockers

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In 1966, being mistaken for the Beatles wasn't exactly detrimental to a young rock band's career, a lesson quickly learned by the Knickerbockers. Though they were formed in Bergenfield, NJ, the Knickerbockers wisely decided that it would be worth their while to write a British Invasion-sounding tune, and the resulting "Lies" not only took them into the Top 20, it briefly convinced many listeners that they were hearing the Fab Four operating under an alias. It proved to be the band's only real moment in the sun, but when "Lies" was included on the legendary Nuggets anthology, it secured the Knickerbockers a place in the pantheon of great ‘60s garage rockers. The band's recording career only lasted for three years, and most folks only know the Knickerbockers for their aforementioned Beatlesque hit, but the 30-song One Track Mind anthology makes for an excellent primer on the New Jersey rockers' output. The collection's subtitle is a telling one -- while there's no shortage of raw, straight-up rockers here, from a hard-edged cover of the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night" and a rough-and-ready Chuck Berry medley to such revved-up originals as "Just One Girl" and the title track, the Knickerbockers had plenty of pop moves up their collective sleeve. Even some of the tougher-sounding tunes here incorporate a relatively sophisticated level of melodic popcraft far beyond most of what usually falls under the "garage rock" umbrella, but there's also a batch of tracks targeted more overtly in a pop direction, complete with orchestrations. Sweet harmonies, slightly psychedelic touches, and soul tendencies crop up occasionally as well, showing that these Garden State lads had a lot more than Merseybeat mockups on their minds.