Given the many stories of their crazed on-stage prowess and the frantic drive of their classic studio sides, fans of real-deal garage rock have often wished that someone had the presence of mind to make a decent-sounding live recording of Tacoma, WA, madmen the Sonics in their glory days. And, as it happened, someone did -- a radio station in Tacoma, KTNT-AM, used to have a regular Friday night feature called Teen Time, in which they broadcast a live spot from one of the area's teen clubs. A guy in Seattle named Doug Patterson owned an Ampex reel-to-reel tape machine and frequently taped the Teen Time shows to collect songs for his own teenage band to cover, and two surviving tapes featuring the Sonics in action have been collected on Busy Body!!! Live in Tacoma 1964. Since these two shows (lasting less than 33 minutes combined, including patter from the announcer) predated the release of their debut single, "The Witch," and the epochal album Here Are the Sonics, the emphasis is on covers and instrumentals, and while the audio is quite good for AM radio broadcasts more then four decades old, the mix is a bit sloppy and Gerry Roslie's vocals are barely audible, with Rob Lind's sax and Larry Parypa's sax way up front. Still, if this isn't the ideal document of the Sonics on-stage, it's a whole lot of fun; these tapes show they were admirably tight and full of fire when playing for their fans, and having a wild good time cranking out "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," "Goin' Back to Granny's," "Night Train," and "Have Love, Will Travel" with all kinds of attitude. And while they didn't deign to play "Psycho" while Patterson was rolling his tapes, there's a wicked early version of "The Witch" that points to things to come. Busy Body!!! captures the Sonics in a transitional phase, when they were still minding the template of Northwest heroes the Wailers but developing an overdriven personality of their own, and it's loud-and-proud teenage fun. - amg
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