The tune I bring you this week is a prime example of what one might consider to be ‘opportunistic’ garage/psych.
I use that term, as opposed to fake or bogus because the example in question manages to work in spite of its decidedly non-garage roots.
The group in question is the Fireballs, who had themselves a particularly interesting history.
Starting out in New Mexico as a primarily instrumental group, they scored their first hit in 1959 with ‘Torquay’. They continued with the instrumental template, until piano player and vocalist Jimmy Gilmer joined the group.
With Gilmer they scored their biggest hit, 1963’s ‘Sugar Shack’. This extremely square piece of pop was for me (and I’m sure for most people) the beginning and end of the Fireballs saga.
They continued on for a few years, scoring a few more hits with Gilmer (‘Daisy Petal Pickin’) and then more after he left in 1967, like the slightly demented ‘Bottle of Wine’.
‘Bottle of Wine’ sounds like the bastard child of the Dave Clark Five and the Byrds (it’s a cover of a Tom Paxton tune) that sounds like it’s been driving through the neighborhood of garage punk quickly with the windows rolled up tight.
Today’s selection ‘Groovy Motions’ is the kind of thing, that presented in a slightly lower fidelity, would have fit right in on a volume of Pebbles.
I mean, I remember picking this 45 up out of a stack of 25 cent records and thinking, “Interesting title”. Imagine my surprise when I finally gave it a spin!
It features fuzz guitar, thumping bass, psychedelic phasing, electric sitar and trippy lyrics (produced by none other than Norman Petty!), and like ‘Bottle of Wine’ resides just short of the real thing (if you take a look at video of the Fireballs from the time period, they look like they haven’t experienced anything more psychedelic than reruns of ‘Laugh-In’).
It’s a wild record, which unfortunately made no impact at all when it was released, though it’s extremely sappy A-side ‘Goin’ Away’ was a minor hit.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all next week.