Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Sonics - The Savage Young Sonicsdotdotdot
artworkThis is an amazing release. The Sonics were just about as important as they came, even more so in retrospect. Their influence on bands of the early eighties and onward is broad and deep. Their uncompromising raw rock sound defined punk.

This CD is all home and live recordings from the bands formative years, all made between 1961 and 1964. 12 instrumentals and 8 vocals, some crudely recorded, others merely muddy vintage documents, and all priceless. What's astonishing to me is how magnetic some of these tracks are, and how original this band was, even when covering their neighbors the Wailers. This is history, brothers and sisters!
Picks: A-Rab, Rumble, Shanghaied, Sonic Blues, Wailin', High Wall, Swing Shift, Sack O' Woe, In The Open, Just Pickin', Wailers House Party, Hold It

Track by Track Review


A-Rab dotdotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

This primitive Arabic influenced melody is very cool. The shimmering vibrato guitar presents a fine melody line. While the drums are primitive and the bass too present, this track has magical qualities. I would expect this to show up on set lists of modern surf bands pretty soon. "A-Rab" is a home recording from 1961. This is not the Jim Messina and the Jesters tune.

Rumble dotdotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

This very basic '61 home recording of Link Wray's "Rumble" is so different from the Sonics of lore. Shimmering vibrato lead, restrained rhythm, bass and drums, and a gentle quality that reverses Link's threatening original. This song works very well in a pretty soft arrangement.

Shanghaied dotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

The Wailers' "Shanghaied" is thrashed a bit with gritty rhythm guitar. Definitely raw, this 1961 home recording is primitively played, almost stiff, yet sports glimpses of the abandon with which the Sonics would eventually rule the world.

Sonic Blues dotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

Highly derivative, yet quite endearing, "Sonic Blues" is played on a vibrato lead with quite a bit of youthful passion. 1961 was the year of the Sonics as an instrumental band.

Wailin' dotdotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

This take on the Wailers' "Wailin'" is pretty surfy, with reverb on the lead guitar and a surf beat behind. "Wailin'" is a "Road Runner" (Bo Diddley) influenced tune that lends itself to basic surf interpretation. This 1963 take is from Clover Park High School. Pretty nice, despite the primitive sound.

High Wall dotdotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

Another Wailers tune, "High Wall" gets the mid tempo shimmer treatment. This is very suave, almost liquid, especially when compared to the Wailers' edge. Again from 1962.

Swing Shift dotdotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

This 1963 Lake City Teen Club recording, while murky, is displaying the Sonics' developing raw attack. gaining on the Wailers' original attack, the Sonics are rockin' hard on this instro.

Sack O' Woe dotdotdot
Surf / Rock (Instrumental)

This classic R&B number was a staple among the Northwest bands in 1963 when this was recorded at the Gaslight Teen Club. While pretty riffy, it's also well done and rockin'.

In The Open dotdotdot
Blues Rock (Instrumental)

Freddie King's "In The Open" is turned into a thundering club number at the Gaslight Teen Club. It rocks and grooves.

Just Pickin' dotdotdot
Blues Rock (Instrumental)

This rockin' little work out is a riff based number that displays just how good the band was getting. Everyone was right on the mark and the guitar was showing a lot if style. Also from 1963.

Wailers House Party dotdotdot
Blues Rock (Instrumental)

Recorded at home in 1964, "Wailers House Party" is a solid rockin' tune with not shortage of energy. It's a jammin' kinda song, on which the Sonics take flight.

Hold It dotdotdot
Blues Rock (Instrumental)

This a basic blues jam kinda tune, played with lots of fire.