Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What A Life! ca. 1965

The Strangers
Of the many great one-off garage rock 45s rescued from mid-60s obscurity by the inestimable lo-fi archaeologist Tim Warren—in this case, via his Teenage Shutdown! compilation series—this track by Boston-area band the Strangers is especially poignant. Dare I say, moving. It's an inept amplified paean to teen independence and all of the promises that rock and roll made in 1965. The singer's on the outs with his teachers and with girlfriend's possessive parents, and all he wants to do is play guitar 'till he dies. But his band's gonna make it big some day, so he'll have the last laugh, drivin' away in his car wearing high-heeled boots, tight black pants, a nice high-button shirt, collared jacket, and long long long long hair! Ridiculously clichéd, even for 1965, and yet something in the knowing "Hitch Hike"-styled opening, the drummer's earnest but fumbled fills, the studied, lo-rent guitar solo, and the hopeless falsetto back-up singing says that at least for these two minutes those clichés felt like truths—and all clichés begin in truth, anyway, however unreliable or misleading those truths may be. Why did kids form rock and roll bands in the mid 1960s? Listen to "What A Life" and you'll hear the answer.

Here's a recent interview (conducted by Mike Dugo at 60sGarageBands) with the Strangers' lead guitarist Dan Gioioso. Highlights:
   "We recorded at Oriel Records. I think there was one mike recording vocals and music at the same time...."
   "'What A Life' took about twenty minutes to write...."
   "The Strangers broke up when Tony [Baglio, the bass player] went to college."
Sounds about right.

Turn it up and bug your parents:

Photo of the Strangers via Beyond The Beat Generation

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