Nuggets: Strychnine 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 55/118: Strychnine by The Sonics
Release Date: 1965
From: Tacoma, Washington
Aphoristical Rating: 9/10

STRYCHNINE – The Sonics [2:13]
(Gerald Roslie)
Personnel/GERRY ROSLIE: vocals, piano * LARRY PARYPA: guitar, vocals * ANDY PARYPA: bass, vocals * BOB BENNETT: drums * ROB LIND: sax, vocals
An ETIQUETTE Production
Recorded in Tacoma, WA
From the album !!!Here Are The Sonics!!!, Etiquette #LSP-024 (1965)

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.

‘Strychnine’ is one of three Sonics’ songs on Nuggets. Like the others, it was taken from their debut album Here Are The Sonics – it was only belatedly released as a single in 1998.

Like the Sonics’ other Nuggets tunes, ‘Strychnine’ features Roslie’s raucous vocals and the group’s warp speed R&B. Roslie’s ragtime-ish piano is prominent in the mix as well.

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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    • Yeah, the three songs on Nuggets are all really good. Looks like the rest if their debut is mostly covers so not sure if I need to hear it.

    • This is like a 8/10 but Psycho might be a 9/10 for me. This sounds like it could have been a demo by the Dave Clark 5 back in about 1964, cuz it sounds just like the Dave Clarke 5 cover of Do You Love Me. With the same sax and drum thing. It’s almost the same song too. But this doesn’t have the same fantastic sound and production that they had. But I guess the rougher sound of this one makes it more like a Nugget. I forgot which covers they did on their album like you mentioned. I got to see what they were.

  1. Well, no wonder Psycho reminded me of Do You Love Me. I checked Sonics’ album and they DID actually cover it. Can you believe that? Dave Clarke recorded it in 63 and Sonics in 65. The only other cover song I recognized the name of is Walk the Dog, and I think another one too which I dont remember now.

  2. I’ve listened to them quite a bit….I really like what I’ve heard. They deserved to be known more but I’m glad they got more recognition as time went on.

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