Seattle spawned the 1980s-1990s garage rock revolution for good reason: Garage rock thrived out there during the 1960s, and record collectors will buy any compilation of any bunch of two-bit high-school bands that played sock-hops back in the day.
Dude, they rocked. Kurt Cobain wasn’t no slouch but The Sonics were the granddaddy of them all. They begat Green River, Mudhoney, and a billion flannel shirt sales.
In this recording’s frenetic groove, you can hear the emotional tachometer almost redline. The Black Keys covered it — yeah, “Have Love, Will Travel” (download) is not a Sonics original, but the Black Keys covered the Sonics’ interpretation of it, sort of like how Overwhelming Colorfast in the 1990s covered Vanilla Fudge’s interpretation of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On.”
Nissan dug up the Sonics’ rendition of this cut for an SUV commercial. A lot of people online think that’s the Black Keys in the Nissan commercial, but that’s just ig’nant. Garage-rock fans know what’s what. FYI, Big Beat released this song as a single in 2004.
One can see how the distortion, melody, and sheer force of personality conspire in this quite influential recording to make an ordinary rock chestnut into one heck of a record that influenced Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, as well as early punk rockers in the 1970s. Later, we suspect Nirvana drew from Ray Michelson’s screaming vocal ferocity, and in doing so managed to slay the heavy-metal monster dominating the charts and rescue us from the likes of Poison and Cinderella.