Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Skunks - I Need No One
The British Invasion gets the lion's share of credit for the garage rock boom of the mid-sixties and rightfully so. But while The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and others were influencing a lot of American teens to pick up guitars and start bands, some U.S. based combos were doing the same. And The Byrds have to be right at the top of that list. Their brand of jangly guitar, folk influenced, pop rock inspired a lot of imitations. Today's record is a prime example of that.
I'll start by saying that I'm a big fan of The Byrds. "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" is just about my favorite song of all-time. I consider it the perfect pop single. It amazes me that it was only the b-side of a 45. I know that great songs often got stuck on the backside of something less worthy but come on! The Byrds were coming off a #1 smash and someone thought that "All I Really Want To Do" was the better choice for a follow-up? Anyway, I'm getting off track here. The Byrds were a great band and a lot of what they inspired is also outstanding. Such is the case when you choose your influences carefully.
The Skunks were a Milwaukee area band and Teen Town was a local, Wisconsin label. They released a handful of singles, two of which I own. And while you might expect a raw, punky sound from a band called The Skunks, not only is "I Need No One" very much in the Byrds mold, it's also far and away the most garagey and best of what I've heard. A bit more on that later.
"I Need No One" has that classic, Byrds sound. The guitars aren't quite as jangly as the California boys but they're close. The vocals are sung in harmony fashion and the song is full of pop hooks. Stylistically, maybe "She Don't Care About Time", another Byrds favorite that was also relegated to flipside status, is a decent comparison. "I Need No One" is a bit faster though and there's no bridge of any kind, all helping it cross the finish line in an even two minutes. I prefer short songs but this one might be a bit too short. Anyhow, it leaves me wanting more which usually equates to multiple plays.
"I Need No One" is either a 1967 or '68 release which seems a bit late until, that is, you've heard the other side of the record, a song called "I Recommend Her". That side has The Skunks in full BS&T horn rock mode. The less said about it, the better. And, of course, to make this thing come full circle, "I Recommend Her" was the a-side of the single, a far more incongruous fact than any example I might have given earlier.