The Sonics

Psycho-Sonic

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Everyone would agree that the Sonics reached their peak on their 1964-65 recordings for Etiquette. This 29-track compilation has everything they recorded for the label, extended not just to everything from their singles and two albums, but also with an alternate take of "The Witch" and live recordings of "Psycho" and "The Witch." Consequently, it's the best Sonics release on the market, though you should be warned: it's not wall-to-wall greatness. After the first half-dozen or so songs, you might well be ready to buy into their legend as one of the great (and certainly rawest) '60s garage bands, as those tracks include their toughest elementary riff-fueled pounders: "The Witch," "Psycho," "Boss Hoss," "He's Waitin'," and "Strychnine." But too much of the rest is filled out with covers of '50s and '60s rock and R&B standards, and the relentlessly frantic bang-it-out frat punk and throat-tearing vocals get blurry after a while, though at least they threw in a little-covered tune with their version of Adam Faith's "It's Alright." [The 2003 CD edition of this anthology, incidentally, is substantially different from Big Beat's first release of the material, though it has identical tracks and the same title. It's taken from first-generation tapes, and also has a 20-page booklet of liner notes with extensive quotes from several band members (including lead singer Gerry Roslie) and others involved in the group's career.]

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