December 4, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Chocolate Watchband

If The Standells were the godfather's of punk, than The Chocolate Watchband were the rougher, tougher, probably drunker, uncles of punk. A decade ahead of the Ramones and well before The Stooges, here was a garage punk band in the mid-60s belting out blues tinged rock and roll with serious attitude. They never had a hit, they never made TV appearances, and they lasted only five short years. But, ever since they have been the bar against which all garage punk are measured, and against which almost all fall short.

The band went through a few lineups and released only three albums before breaking up in 1970. Arriving jsut at the peak of the British invasion, they managed to ride that wave with a hard-edged R&B sound that incorporated pop rock only enough to keep the band from falling into further illrepute with the then gentler eared listening public. They covered a number of songs, "Come On", "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", "In The Midnight Hour", turning each into their own buzz-sawed guitar bit of garage goodness. Thier originals were even better, especially "Let's Talk About Girls" (later a bona fide punk rock hit for The Undertones), and the bluesy pscyhadelia of "Gone and Passes By". One of my faves was the title track to their first album, "No Way Out" and is a sort of psychadelic blues number with a Doors-like vibe to it.

The Chocolate Watchband -- No Way Out