Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction

The Count Five were, of course, the San Jose garage-punkers who hit big with the truly psychotic Yardbirds-influenced (rip-off?), "Psychotic Reaction". They cut one full length album, a couple singles and then faded into oblivion (despite what Lester Bangs wrote in Carburetor Dung). Though short-lived and short on output, the legacy that they left behind has definitely influenced many generations of garage rockers!

While the LP is uneven, as were most in the mid-60's when record labels forced bands to do songs that they would normally not do, there is also some true greatness here. The opener, "Double Decker Bus", pulls from the formula that made "Psychotic Reaction" a hit - stompin' beat, heavy chords, lots of fuzz, some trashy harp and rockin' rave-up.

"Pretty Big Mouth" has a groovy, bluesy beat, tremelo'd guitar and some genuinely cool guitar licks - and more fuzz! Another blues-ish number, as seen through the eyes of west coast white teenage boys is "The World" which is followed by a rather pedestrian take on "My Generation" - I mean, c'mon, how can you compare to the Who?! The very-poppish "She's Fine" - I'm assuming this was an attempt at a different kind of radio hit - has some intriguing half step chord changes, making it a bit more interesting than it might have been.

Of course, everyone knows the oft-covered title track and it still sounds pretty freeakin' great! Turn it up and dig carbon monoxide poisoning of this garage masterpiece! Damn near as great is "Peace of Mind" with its one note "hook", feedback, backwards guitar and pounding beat! I used to cover this in the Unclaimed in the early 80's and it still sounds primitively fantastic! The deliberately goofy "They're Gonna Get You" is more of a throw away - kind of a combination of "Muleskinner Blues" and "I'm Henry the Eighth" in a weird way. Emulating the feel of the title, "The Morning After" is a little unbalanced but has a cool guitar lick and is a neat, slower tune.

The energy and fuzz returns for "Can't Get Your Lovin'", a bit of an r'n'b raver and a swinging dance number. They close the album with another Who tune, this one a bit more obscure and not one of their best - "Out in the Street". Cool, but not great and not a strong closer.

Overall, though, a terrific example of 60's garage rock'n'roll. I would have loved to have seen these cats in concert, too - apparently they wore vampire capes ("counts" - get it?) and played weird guitars like the 12 string Bellzouki shown on the back cover (I have one of those!). Lots of fun!