Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Seeds - The Seeds

The Seeds

Released 1966 on GNP/Crescendo
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 21/01/2003ce

The Seeds' self-titled first album is surely a landmark of garage rock, and about the best example of 60's proto-punk you can find. It includes both of their biggest hit singles, the galloping biker classic "Pushin' Too Hard" which cracked the top 20 in the US, and the ballad "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" which bubbled under the top 40 but was a big regional hit.

The Seeds were led by one "Sky Saxon", who not only wrote and sang but also acted as bass player and producer / liner note poetry writer under the pseudonym "Marcus Tybalt." Jan Savage supplies the rudimentary blues-fuzz guitar, Rick Andridge was the drummer who could play a backbeat "both ways" (slow and fast), and the incredible Daryl Hooper plays the cheesiest one-fingered organ you can imagine. As far as I can tell when they played live they just didn't bother with a bass ala The Doors, so that Sky would be free to roam the stage (their live album "Merlin's Musicbox" seems to bear this out -- though sometimes there does appear to be a bass it's also obviously a "fake live" album with screaming girls rising up in the mix at non-spontaneous moments. So I figure Sky just overdubbed the bass parts. There are no musician credits on my version of said live LP, but nor is there a picture of anyone playing the bass.)

What really makes "The Seeds" debut album a marvel is the fact that approximately 9 of the 11 songs use almost exactly the same two chord riff as the big hit "Pushin' Too Hard"! All they do is change the tempo and the lyrics! Only "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" (which has THREE chords) and the closing blues shuffle "Fallin' In Love" seem to break the mold. Otherwise "No Escape" is "Pushin' Too Hard" right down to Hooper playing exactly the same organ solo! "Evil Hoodoo" is the same song with a louder fuzz guitar and played twice as long. "Nobody Spoil My Fun" is the same riff played backwards, "Try To Understand" is that riff again done as a ballad, "It's A Hard Life" is the bouncy version with bluesy slide guitar, etc.

Lyrically Sky is punk to the bone, obviously heavily under the influence of his hero Mick Jagger during the "Under My Thumb" / "Stupid Girl" period. There are songs about unattainable women ("Can't Seem To Make You Mine"), and attainable women ("Girl I Want You") but mostly women who need to just get outta his face ("Pushin' Too Hard", "Nobody Spoil My Fun", "You Can't Be Trusted", "Excuse, Excuse").

So why is it worth a listen? Because this is the ORIGINAL punk rock record. Like the Ramones and others to come, these guys have limited musical imaginations and almost no chops, but that doesn't stop them from flinging their funky attitude-driven rants in your face. The sound is excellently fuzzy, even the vocals and organ wheeze like they're going through a fuzzbox. Even the crudities of early Velvet Underground and Stooges records come off like snotty proggish "capital A" Art by comparison to this lovely dreck.

Note: in the late 1980's GNP/Crescendo re-released "The Seeds" as part of a 2-fer with their second album "A Web of Sound."

Reviews Index