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23 Nov 2016

Gunge “Feel It!”1968 demos US Psych garage Rock






Gunge “Feel It!”1968 demos US rare Psych garage Rock 
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Back cover says: “Recorded in 1968 but never released at the time, the Gunge Feel It! masters have sat hidden away for 40 years. From Northern California, Gunge were Chico’s answer to Blue Cheer, heavy, hairy, nasty & scarey. So remember to watch yer step, They’re comin’ around to getcha. They’re comin’ ‘round the corner. Angry men! DIE!!!!” …… 

Chico, California’s raw-assed sons of sonic anarchy, GUNGE come on with the attitude of the MC5 & the Stooges and the ear-bleeding riffery of first-album Blue Cheer. That’s GUNGE, not grunge, but fans of both those groups will find much to enjoy in the contents of Feel It!, which features a wild set of demos recorded in 1968 that have lain undisturbed until now. Featuring sundry illuminati from the North California Valley garage scene, had GUNGE gotten a release back in the day, they would now be celebrated as hard rocking pioneers. Their sound is a rough-hewn, brutally honest assault that – as the eye-popping artwork implies – literally pisses over most recent hard rock/psych reissues. Feel it!Chico is a northern California college town nestled among almond orchards and Red Staters. It gets most of its notoriety from being the place where Sierra Nevada is made, and where people (particularly students) party like it’s 1999 while drinking Sierra Nevada (and dollar Kamikaze shots served in beakers). 

But it should be pointed out that some damn fine bands have come out of this cozy little Gomorrah with a farmers’ market. Most notable was 28th Day, the jangle-pop four-piece that featured a young Barbara Manning on bass and vocals. Around the same time Vomit Launch was also making pop songs that were much prettier than the band’s name may have indicated. Harvester and The Mother Hips also got their starts in Chico in the early-’90s. Not to mention the lesser-known bands that have popped up over the past couple of decades: Deathstar, The Makai, Cowboy and Severance Package to name a few. 

For some reason most documentation of Chico’s musical history only goes back as far as 1976 with the eternal, better-late-than-never Flower Power of Spark ‘n’ Cinder. But the crate-diggers at Frantic Records spent 12 years searching for long-lost musical relics from northern California, and Chico in particular. Last year the label (also responsible for the great 2002 reissue from Sacramento proto-punks Public Nuisance) released Up From the Grave, a collection of 30 unreleased songs from northern California bands that lurked beneath the purple haze in the mid-to-late ’60s, including The Boy Blues, Psycho and Drusalee & the Dead, whose lead singer emerged from a coffin during shows. 
Along with Up From the Grave Frantic also released albums by two more Chico bands—Colours‘ Voluptuous Doom, Christian‘s Good Vs. Evil, and Feel It! by a noisy five-piece called Gunge. While most bands of the time clung to British Invasion, Gunge was feeling the doom and blues of Blue Cheer and Cream. In 1968 the band rolled their gear over to Chico State and recorded seven songs with engineer Wayne Leathers. Feel It! leads off with “One of These Days,” a stoner-riffed monster with the cheery opening line: “One of these days I’m gonna shoot everybody.” Of course, this was back before kids actually acted on it. Damn video games. 

Gunge only lasted a year. And the Feel It! tapes were lost (probably in the drummer’s underwear drawer) for 40 years, collecting dust, mold, grime … which, of course, adds to the experience. The fidelity is low. But isn’t that all the rage with the kids these days? Stick around for “Chico Chicks,” a funny little tape-recorded interview with fans at a Gunge show in 1968 where one groovy concert-goer accidentally refers to the band as “Grunge.” Sorry, Mr. Arm, we now know where the term really started…………. 

Documentation of music in Chico typically begins in the 1970s with the early incarnations of what would become the jam-happy, flower-powered institution that is Spark ’n’ Cinder. Anything that came before has lain beneath a perpetual blanket of purple haze. But there are people who live for discovering those obscure oddities. In fact, if it weren’t for these types, the music might be lost forever in dilapidated boxes inside dark, musty attics. 

A couple of obsessed record collectors named Joey D and Alec Palao began seeking out the music of some of Northern California’s most well-known, now-unknown rock bands. And it turns out, in the ’60s, there was a thriving scene of long-haired miscreants tapping into some hellacious fuzz-tones inside their parents’ garages in Chico. 

After years of scouring the far corners of the United States for recordings, faded and brittle fliers and photos, the two collectors were recently able to put together Up From the Grave, a 30-song collection of garage-rock records released between 1965 and 1968 by bands from the North State. 

“This stuff is so rare,” declares Joey D, owner of Frantic Records, the label that put out the compilation, “I’m 99 percent sure that young collectors have no clue about these records.” 

In fact, he says the first track—“Marble Orchard,” recorded in 1967 by Clear Lake’s The Graveyard Five—is one of the rarest garage records in the world, with only three known original copies in existence. Price for a mint copy: $8,000 to $10,000. 

The comp has stirred up enough excitement to get a handful of bands—including four from Chico—to take the stage for the first time in more than three decades (all day Sunday, April 26, at Nick’s Night Club). 

Up From the Grave took nearly 12 years to put together, and features bands from towns including Chico, Redding, Yuba City and Marysville. Three bands—Psycho, The Boy Blues and Gunge—were part of a Chico music scene in the late ’60s fueled by buckets of youthful impetuosity (and perhaps trace amounts of THC and LSD). 

The Boy Blues were the biggest band north of Sacramento. Kurt Kearnes remembers watching the band perform in front of about 1,000 kids at the Fabric Center in downtown Chico (now Bird In Hand). 
“Watching The Boy Blues was like going to see The Who in Sacramento,” said Kearnes, who now lives in Paradise. “The Boy Blues set the tone for what was going on. There were bands that were technically better, but nothing as exciting.” 

Kearnes, who was the singer for another Chico band called The Souls, would eventually join The Boy Blues in late 1967. The Boy Blues pressed a couple of 45s and played tons of shows, including one with The Kinks, and endured an infamous drug bust. The band’s run would eventually end, and members moved to the Bay Area and reformed as Colours (and, later on, Christian). 

If The Boy Blues were the most popular, Gunge may have been the loudest. The band formed in 1967 from the ashes of Midnight Reign. Gunge’s Feel It! album is a psychedelic trip through lo-fi sludgy blues riffs, punctuated by Martin Taylor’s soulful, cigarette-kissed vocals. 

“Even though we were spaced out, we would practice every Friday and Saturday,” explained Gunge guitarist Steve Cooley from his home in Tacoma, Wash. “We had a routine, and every Monday we would record on reel-to-reel to remember [the riffs].” 

The Cream-influenced Gunge opened for the Grateful Dead at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in November of 1968, the year they recorded Feel It! at Chico State—and, incidentally, the same year the band called it quits. 

In addition to Up From theGrave, Frantic Records has also re-released Colours’ Voluptuous Doom and Christian’s Good Vs. Evil as well as the seven-song recording from Gunge. 

Joey D says putting it all together was a long process of making hundreds of phone calls and stumbling upon someone who knew a guy who was friends with the drummer who had the original tape packed away in an old drawer. 
Some tracks on Up From the Grave—such as “Love Will Begin” from Redding’s Bob Smith & the Foundations—are more of your typical ’60s psych-pop whose surf and British Invasion influences are written all over the reverbed guitars and squiggly organ. 

Others are a little darker. Marysville’s Drusalee & the Dead, with the song “Lily” (after Lily Munster), drove around in an old hearse, and singer R. Drew Sallee often emerged from a coffin during shows. Another band from Marysville—The Next Step—was also a bit more voluminous, taking a cue from bands like the Sonics. 

Some of the songs on Up From the Grave are likely more sought after for their scarcity and the lore surrounding them than actual quality. But Joey D—who is also responsible for putting out a collection of Sacramento garage rock called So Cold!!! as well as the excellent double-disc release from Sacto proto-punks Public Nuisance in 2002—claims that it’s a singular element that gets music geeks frothing at the mouth: “Anything with fuzz. That’s what collectors are into.”…..By Mark Lore ……. 

Tracklist: 

1. One of These Days (03:05) 
2. Seaman (03:40) 
3. Feel It! (04:10) 
4. Woman (06:09) 
5. Sunshine Superman (06:31) 
6. Lonely Stone (05:21) 
7. Seasons (04:18) 
8. Chico Chicks (02:34) 


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