Passage to India

Zakary Thaks

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Passage to India Review

by Mark Deming

Texas produced more than its share of great garage rock bands during the mid-'60s, and one of the very best to emerge from the Lone Star State were the Zakary Thaks, a Corpus Christi combo whose instrumental skill, songwriting acumen, and frantic energy belied their age -- the five members of the group were all between the ages of 15 and 17 when they cut their blazing debut single, "Bad Girl," which earned them a short-lived deal with Mercury Records and later appeared on the Nuggets box set. The Zakary Thaks released six singles between 1966 and 1969, and all 12 tunes are collected on Passage to India, along with a handful of rare and unreleased tracks. While "Bad Girl" is the Zakary Thaks' best-known tune, their collected body of work is consistently strong and surprisingly eclectic, with the hot-wired garage attack of "Bad Girl" evolving into a sound that encompassed folk-rock, psychedelia, and pop without going stale along the way. Though these guys were clearly influenced by the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and the Kinks, they also took a few pointers from their peers on the Texas rock scene of the day, and one of the most exciting bonus tracks is a rousing cover of the 13th Floor Elevators' "I've Got Levitation." Oddly, the previously unreleased title tune is one of the weakest moments here, an ambitious attempt at raga-style rock that's interesting but not especially exciting, something of a surprise given that the band handled trippier and more adventurous material like "Green Crystal Ties" and "Can You Hear Your Daddy's Footsteps" quite well. But the rest of the material on Passage to India is as good as regionally released '60s garage rock gets, with fine songs, strong and imaginative playing, and a passion that extended beyond simple teenage bravado; add a fistful of rare photos and liner notes from Zakary Thaks lead singer Chris Gerniottis and you get an excellent, near-definitive summary of a band that deserved a lot more recognition than it received outside its home town.

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