Nuggets: Psycho by The Sonics

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965-to 1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 74/118: Psycho by The Sonics
Release Date: 1965
From: Tacoma, Washington
Aphoristical Rating: 8/10

PSYCHO – The Sonics [2:14]
(Gerald Roslie)
Personnel/GERRY ROSLIE: vocals, piano * LARRY PARYPA: lead guitar * ANDY PARYPA: bass * BOB BENNETT: drums * ROB LIND: sax
An ETIQUETTE Production
Recorded in Seattle, WA
Etiquette single #ET-11 [2nd issue] (1/65); Jerden single #JD-811 (2/67)

The Sonics are a relatively well-known group from the Nuggets set. They were a favourite of Kurt Cobain and name-dropped as an influence by The White Stripes. They were formed in 1960 by teenage guitarist Larry Parypa, initially playing instrumental R&B with his brother Andy on bass. The classic lineup solidified in 1964 with Gerry Roslie, whose frenetic lead vocals resemble Little Richard.

With Roslie on vocals, The Sonics quickly became popular. They signed to Etiquette Records and released their first single in November 1964 – ‘The Witch‘, with a Little Richard song on the b-side. It became the highest-selling local record in the Northwest.

‘Psycho’ is the band’s second single. Like their first, it’s a mix of Roslie’s raucous vocals and the group’s warp speed R&B. The Sonics are one of the most interesting bands on Nuggets, but ‘Psycho’ is the least captivating of their songs on the set. The formulaic “oh baby” lyrics take away from the group’s mystique a little, even though there is a lot happening musically – a stinging guitar solo is followed by a sharp drum break.

The Sonics drifted apart in the late 1960s, with saxophonist Rob Lind serving as a fighter pilot in Vietnam and other members attending university. The band continued, with none of the classic members involved, until 1980. The use of their version of ‘Have Love, Will Travel’ in a 2004 TV ad raised their profile and the band reformed in 2007. Larry Parypa, Roslie, and Lind all returned, and the band released a new album This is the Sonics in 2015. Parypa and Roslie have retired from touring, but the band is still active with Lind on saxophone.

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Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.

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  1. For a change when it comes to most bands featured in this collection, I had heard of the Sonics before. In fact, I knew “Psycho”. Good tune though a bit monotonous. “The Witch” isn’t bad either – musically more interesting than “Psycho”. I also like “Have Love Will Travel”.

    • Yup, one of the more famous Nuggets bands for sure. ‘Strychnine’ is the other Sonics tune on Nuggets.

    • Have you heard their records? I only know the Nuggets tracks but I’d be interested in hearing more.

      • I would recommend “Here Are The Sonics” and “Boom” from the 60s. Good also the new album from 2015 “This Is The Sonics”. The old men show that they still have what it takes.

  2. Did you mean to post ‘Psycho’ or is there and I missed it? ‘Coz ‘The Witch’ is up there. No worries. I listened to both. Crazy, man. I like those totally undisciplined “I learned to play yesterday” guitar solos. Groovy. And the modulation on ‘Psycho’ is cliché but it always works.

    • Oops – The Witch is later on on Nuggets, so I’d written about it already. So I just cloned the previous article and forgot to change the video….

      I like their sound a lot – helps that the singer’s voice works really well for the fast-paced R&B, like Little Richard.

  3. I have heard this one before… great energy and Roslie’s vocals are great. It’s cool that they are still together somewhat…

  4. This is a really good one, I think you’re right that their other songs on Nuggets are maybe a little better. I think I like Strychnine more. I wish they would have put their cover version of Do You Love Me on nuggets cuz it would have fit in so good. That’s my favorite song by them even though it sounds a lot like the Dave Clark Five version, except without the awesome sound of Dave Clark Five with that big huge drum and sax sound they had. But then, nobody had records that sound as awesome as those. heh.

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