Everybody—even Dick Clark—knows that the bird is the word: The Trashmen on ‘American Bandstand’

While it may be a stretch to say that the Trashmen invented punk rock, with 1963’s “Surfin’ Bird” they were very clearly one of the earliest bands to capture its snotty, anarchic spirit. The song has been a rallying cry for hip weirdos ever since. It was even the voice of a singing asshole in John Waters’ magnum opus Pink Flamingos. Pee-wee Herman belted it out on the soundtrack of Back to the Beach. It’s also been covered by dozens of bands, including The Ramones, the pre-Stooges Iguanas, and even German thrash metal giants Sodom. The Cramps basically owed their entire career to the song.

There is no way to sit in silence when “Surfin’ Bird” comes on the radio. You will scream along and probably flail around the room, flapping your arms like a big dumb ostrich. That song could start an all-night party at a funeral. The bird remains the word, even after all these years.

Pee-wee heard about the bird back in 1986

But what do we know about this mutant anthem, really? Well, for one thing, The Trashmen didn’t write “Surfin’ Bird.” It was a mash-up of two Rivingtons’ songs, 1962’s “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and its sound-alike follow-up, ‘63’s “Bird is the Word.” The Trashmen never even heard the original. They actually nicked it off another local Minneapolis band called The Sorensen Brothers. The Trashmen version was even louder and wilder, and once DJ Bill Diehl heard it, he encouraged the band to record it. They did, and the word-of-the-bird quickly spread, eventually getting the band to number four on the Billboard charts and ensuring their place in Freak Heaven forever.

The unlikely granddaddies of punk: Trashmen in 1964

But here’s the thing. The Trashmen initially attempted a rock n’ roll swindle, stating that they wrote the song themselves. The ‘63 single credits Trashmen singer/drummer Steve Wahrer as the composer and by the time the song was racing up the charts, he was happy to take the credit. Eventually, the Rivingtons got a lawyer and worked it all out but by then the world moved on to other dance crazes.  While “Surfin’ Bird” remained the Trashmen’s biggest hit, they had a fistful of ‘em as the decade wore on, including “Bird Dance Beat”, “Peppermint Man” and “Whoa Dad”. None of ‘em were as good as “Surfin’ Bird,” but what could be?

The little-known follow-up to “Surfin’ Bird.”
After the jump, the greatest thing you’ll see this week, I promise…

Posted by Ken McIntyre
09:22 am
FEEL THE FUZZ: Insane music from obscure vintage Japanese psych & garage rock bands

An excellent shot of Ai Takano, the timekeeper for Japanese psychedelic ‘group sounds’ band The Carnabeats. The band was well-known for their numerous covers from the catalog of English rock band The Zombies.
As I’ve said before, of the many excellent aspects of my “job” here as a writer for Dangerous Minds is that I get to share things I love with all of you groovy readers. As I’m a huge fan of Japanese art and culture my show and tell for you today is some prime sounds from little-known Japanese psychedelic and garage rock bands from the 1960s and 1970s. I can say with complete confidence that you’re going to want to carve out some time to listen to The Voltage covering Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and The Spiders’ out-of-sight riff on John Lee Hooker’s 1962 “Boom Boom” as well as original jams from some of Japan’s lesser-known vintage rockers.

The Voltage was one of many bands associated with “group sounds” (or simply “GS”) music genre in Japan and the band demonstrated a strong affinity for classic Motown, recording numerous musical homages to artists like The Temptations, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett throughout their career. Though I’m a sucker for bands putting their own unique spin on vintage hits, I always love digging up different sounds from around the globe that mirrored more famous genre-defining moments in better-known geographical locations. Such as Japan’s vibrant interpretation of the psychedelic and garage rock movement that was flourishing in the 60s and 70s in the United States. Though it’s a little difficult to imagine a happening psyche-rock scene in Japan without the proper party-favors (drugs were and still are very illegal there) you’d never know that the bands you’re about to hear in this post were kicking out groovy, LSD-free grooves such as The Flowers (who later became “The Flower Travellin’ Band)” like their rambling fifteen-minute instrumental from 1969 “Opera Yokoo Tadanori Wo Utau” that gives “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” a run for its money.

Like you perhaps, I’m also a huge fan of the super-psyche rock trio, Speed, Glue & Shinki that featured the wizardry of guitarist Shinki Chen who before he even turned 21 was already commonly referred to as the “Japanese Jimi Hendrix.” The band itself at times also channels one of my other beloved heavy metal staples, Black Sabbath so it’s no wonder I can’t get enough of them. As I’m quite sure that you’re going to dig the shit out of the bands in this post I’d highly recommend picking up the 2015 release Kaminari-Nineteen Japanese Garage Monsters or The Definitive Collection of Group Sounds (Japanese Garage & Psychedelic Bands) 1965-1971 released back in 2000 that contains a staggering 122 songs from several of the bands included in this post. And though I’ve written about them previously on DM, I don’t want to get called out for not including The Mops so I included the fucking impossibly heavy track “Illjanaikada” below along with many others and some sweet vintage images of what it looked like to be a rock star in Japan all those decades ago.

Dig theFUZZ!

Speed, Glue & Shinki.

The Dynamites.

The Spiders.
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
09:53 am
Rare film footage of The Shadows Of Knight and 1960s garage bands
07:49 pm

Uploaded to Youtube by, this is truly rare 8mm footage of Illinois garage rockers The Shadows Of Knight performing at the 1966 Teen World Fair in Chicago.

There is almost zero live footage of The Shadows Of Knight on the Internet. WTF? These are the guys that turned “Gloria” into a smash hit! So this is a nice piece of rock history.

Update: The Shadows Of Knight vocalist and guitarist Jerry McGeorge provides some insight on the Teen World Fair footage:

The tunes we were playing when the vid was shot aren’t the same as the sound track. “Long Time Comin’” is a Tom Schiffour tune from late ‘66. The cut´╗┐ is probably from the Chess sessions we did around that same time. A fun video all the same. We managed to piss off every DJ in Chicago during that series of gigs. Too loud and too many smart asses on stage all at the same time! is compiling home movie footage of 1960’s garage/rock bands “in order to preserve the footage and offer it to collectors of garage rock from the 1960’s.”

Here’s a sample of some of the footage they’ve compiled so far. I love this stuff and can’t wait to see more. This was an era in which garages in suburbs across America were the breeding ground for the devil’s music and there was a rock band on every block. Silvertones ruled.


Posted by Marc Campbell
07:49 pm