Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction/They're Gonna Get You

The Count five produced one of thee all time great garage classics with their '66 release of Psychotic Reaction for Double Shot Records. Loosely based off of The Yardbirds' Better Man Than I, Psychotic Reaction epitomized the budding garage sound of the United States perfectly.

The band's debut single was 2:56 of unadulterated teen frustration and bravado. The song somehow cracked the Top 10 and allowed for The Count Five to release a full length album, something rather unheard of for a band of their local-ness. The members were Kenn Ellner, Sean Byrne, Craig Atkinson, John Michaski, and Roy Chaney. The oldest member of the band was a geriatric 19. The lead guitarist, Michalski, still in High School. Sadly, Atkinson and Byrne have both passed.

The flip-side is the Sean Byrne composed They're Gonna Get You. It's a funky little beat with incessant guitar noodling and some whimsical vocals that illuminate for the listener just how tough it was to be a long haired, cape wearing freak who stands outside the infamous "Winchester Mystery House". 

Growing up in this general area of California in the 80s, I can tell you that the 1966 album, also called Psychotic Reaction, on Double Shot Records, could be found everywhere. There wasn't a record store or Salvation Army in Northern California that didn't have 6 copies in the used bins. An easy find at a low, low price. A garage freak's nirvana. The eleven songs on the album are all written by members of the band, with the very notable exception of the two songs by Pete Townshend (both sides of The Who's third single in the US). All in all, the 9 original compositions are pretty damn solid and give you a sense of how much excitement the Count Five must have brought to the teen hops in San Jose.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

8 comments:

  1. Mr. You're A Better Man Than I? I wouldn't have thought that at all. I would guess more along the lines of Wish You Would or I'm Not Talking.

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  2. The music break and lead in You're A Better Man Than I (at 1:30) is VERY similar to the music break and lead in Psychotic Reaction at (1:00). Incidentally, both are in the key of Gb if I recall correctly. Also influenced by Beck's lead in Better Man, I would argue, is The Del-Vetts break and lead in Last Time Around (at 1:00)

    That last song can be found here: http://ontheflip-side.blogspot.com/2011/07/song-of-week-last-time-around-del-vetts.html

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  3. Well gentlemen you are both wrong ... and this is why! Before FM radio existed there was such a thing called AM Radio, which only played the song that broke air play ... like the top 40 play list. I remember of course the first tune ever played by the Yardbirds was For Your Love ( which is not my example here) But I'm A Man was also played very early on top 40 AM Radio ... which has a crazy mental rave up (for the day) which was eye popping to the young guitar slingers. The Count Five were merely sending a call-back to their hero's. Just an Old Guy here. What you guy's are talking about are album cuts ... the kids were buying 7" records at the time ... albums were big bucks for a kid on a allowance. LOL
    Thanks Guys
    TomK

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    1. Who were their heros, do you think? The Rolling Stones? Satisfaction?

      I have suggested elsewhere that the song's main riff may be indebted to the Spidells' song Find Out What's Happening. It's the closest of any I've heard. Not that I have to try to pull the curtain on every bleeding great guitar riff. Just hearing possible influences. By the way, as with the Spidells' song, both I Wish You Would and I'm Not Talking were out on 45.

      Thanks for your perspective - it's invaluable. Come on back.

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  4. Thanks for your invite back "my friend Jack" firstly I sincerely believed the Count Five never heard of the Spidells or their tune Find Out What's Happening. And yes The Count Five did get Satisfaction when they recorded their "Psychotic Reaction " to the song "I'm A Man". It's that simple. Yes those other tunes were on 7" records but I can tell you for a fact that no Commercial AM Radio Station did play them. And yes you're welcome for my perspective.
    TomK

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  5. I'm going to disagree with you anon about the LPs. The very fact that the Count Five's LPs were so easy to find suggests many, many of them sold. Thus Making a point that LPs sold. Having A Rave Up by The Yardbirds was a huge influence. And were quite abundant. Case in point, their rendition of Train Kept A-Rollin' is a very common cover by garage bands.

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  6. Hey Morgan
    In 1966 I was 15 going on 16. Had I fairly decent record collection for a kid who cut grass and did errands for pocket money. Five dollars a lawn was top dollar for a front and back yard. I only wish I didn't trash my record sleeves or loan out my loose records to friends. Yeah I bought LP's back then but it had to be something that didn't cause buyer's remorse ( like a LP with only three or four memorable tunes.) Dig Your Site - thanks buddy.
    TomK

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    1. Great insights TomK. I hope you keep coming on back.

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