Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Sonics - This is the Sonics

I have been rantin'n'ravin' about the live return of the Sonics and have finally picked up their first new
album in 50 years or so! This one is a true scorcher, showing the younger groups how garage rock'n'roll should be done! Yes, there are a number of covers, but they always threw some into the mix and made them their own, and these are no exception.

I have a hard time finding fault with anyone's take on the fantastic "I Don't Need No Doctor" and these cats individualize the arrangement and make it smokin' hot! Guitarist Larry Parypa starts off the raucous "Be a Woman" with power chords and cool licks and everyone provides a hard'n'heavy rave-up section at the end. Jerry & bassist Freddie trade off lead vocals throughout the record and both are in fine voice here. Freddie has a cool, raw yet melodic voice, not dissimilar to Jerry's. But it is a pleasure to hear Jerry still shriekin'n'shoutin' as he does in "Bad Betty", where he also trades organ'n'sax riffs with horn master Rob Lind. Their take on "You Can't Judge a Book" has a captivating, climbing chord progression and poundin' drums and may be tellin' the story of these gents themselves - they may look like grandpas, but they still rock with the best of them!

Drummer Dusty Watson propels "The Hard Way" with machine-gun drum fills, aided by Jerry's piano work and cool sax fills and the prerequisite "hey hey heys!". Freddie does a fine job on "Sugaree", which could easily have appeared on one of their 60's albums (more amazing sax'n'guitar playing here, as well). "Leaving Here" is another tune that is difficult to do a bad job on, and they Sonic-fy it with some cool sax'n'harp blowin'. I thought that they actually did "Little Sister" on one of the earlier albums, but maybe it was another NW group, cuz this is a natural for them. There's a bit of "Shot Down" in "I Got Your Number (and it's 666)", not that there's anything wrong with that!

Borrowing a bit from their old pals, the Wailers' song "Hang Up", "Living in Chaos" is a screamer for Freddie. Not exactly hippie fare, "Save the Planet" actually extols the virtues of drinkin'n'partyin' ('reality's for people who don't know how to drink"), backed by a swingin', almost funky, guitar riff and cool organ'n'sax. Dusty continues to give it all he's got on the closer, "Spend the Night", and Larry fires off a fierce solo and some truly heavy power chords, while Jerry shows that he can still be lewd and crude even at his age!

Absolutely inspirational that these fine gents can still put out a monstrous slab of rock'n'roll. Get it!