Ah, the debut album by The Seeds: an audacious and brutal missive from a band of sneering reprobates with the merest of musical proficiencies but with unlimited punk attitude.
At least, that’s how it must have seemed when The Seeds was released in June 1966. The world had already been introduced to Sky Saxon, Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage, and Rick Andridge on the group’s three singles, but this was an entire LP, and it didn’t let up from start to finish. The fact that they were actually nice, regular guys (generally speaking) was hard to tell amidst the demented clamor rising from the LP’s grooves. The music on The Seeds has its roots in the primitive garage sounds of bands like The Kinks but it’s further out there than anything else of the time.
On this debut album, Sky and his gang tear through a collection of simple tunes at warp speed, doggedly recycling a limited repertoire of musical ideas and skills. What makes it hold up to repeated listens is the band’s sheer conviction. Every note is bursting with breathless emotion — technical proficiency be damned. In fact, the three instrumentalists, especially keyboardist Daryl Hooper, were quite adept at their instruments but the music of The Seeds did not call for clever tricks or complicated arrangements.
Resolutely sticking to its simplistic script, The Seeds commands attention. The music is simple – drums and electric guitar, with Hooper’s organ dominating. The intricacies of The Beatles aren’t to be found here.
Much of the appeal is in Sky Saxon’s unusual voice — a nasal sneer to end all nasal sneers. Sky, aged 29, was so far ahead of his time that the world would take at least ten years to catch up. He spits out his boneheaded teen-angst lyrics, interspersing them with various grunts, howls and wails.
The Seeds contains several engaging new ideas: ghostly proto-psych on “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” and “Try To Understand”; fearsome voodoo punk on “Evil Hoodoo”; rambunctious defiance on “No Escape” and “Pushin’ Too Hard”. The album suggests some of the avenues that the band would explore on its subsequent albums like A Web Of Sound and Future.
There is virtually no studio trickery or advanced musical theory applied to this album; while managing to avoid monotony, you can’t really say that it’s sophisticated. Which is kind of the point; there’s gold in the dirty ditches of the record’s dingy landscape.
Aptly-named guitarist Jan Savage has few tricks up his sleeve; his short, simple guitar figures get their power from their economy, their magical and precise placement. Just a couple notes here and there add much to the structure of the music.
Similarly, Daryl Hooper sprinkles a few notes around when necessary, and it is his mid-60s sound that give many of the songs their soft, curious underbelly. Drummer Rick Andridge keeps the beat without a lot of clever fills. At times, different second guitarists would join The Seeds in the studio, including Russ Serpent; bass guitar (miscredited to Sky) was played by other guests, including Harvey Sharpe. (“Fallin’ In Love” and “Evil Hoodoo” do not feature Andridge; an alternate drummer whose name is lost to history handles the duties on these two songs.)
All in all, with nothing but a couple pieces of warped lumber and a few ten-penny nails, The Seeds build a majestic garage-punk monstrosity of a skyscraper on their debut album.
Sky Saxon’s lyrics on The Seeds are perhaps best left unmentioned. They seem as if they were written in about ten minutes – that’s for the whole album – and consist mostly of standard circa-1965 pop music cliche s. “Sky’s lyrics were infected by a wondrous charm,” as a 2008 press release charitably worded it.
Several of the songs include the phrase “night and day”. Sky Saxon always “needs your love both night and daaay” and he’d never tire of urgently telling you.
Of course, at the end of the day the lyrics really don’t matter on The Seeds anyway; it’s Sky’s glorious buzzsaw voice and the effusive wackiness of the music that spins your head around on each listen.
1. Can't Seem To Make You Mine - 3:01
2. No Escape (Jan Savage, Jimmy Lawrence, Sky Saxon) - 2:12
3. Lose Your Mind - 2:13
4. Evil Hoodoo (Daryl Hooper, Sky Saxon) - 5:07
5. Girl I Want You - 2:23
6. Pushin' Too Hard - 2:36
7. Try To Understand - 2:47
8. Nobody Spoil My Fun - 3:51
9. It's A Hard Life - 2:37
10.You Can't Be Trusted - 2:02
11.Excuse, Excuse (Marcus Tybalt) - 2:17
12.Fallin' In Love - 2:45
13.She's Wrong - 2:13
14.Daisy Mae (Take 1) - 2:20
15.Dreaming Of Your Love - 2:19
16.Out Of The Question (Version 1 Take 1) (Sky Saxon, Russ Serpent) - 3:02
17.Out Of The Question (Version 1 Master) (Sky Saxon, Russ Serpent) - 2:23
18.Pushin' Too Hard (Take 1) - 3:15
19.Girl I Want You (Alternate Overdub) - 2:22
20.Evil Hoodoo (Unedited Take And Intercut Section) (Daryl Hooper, Sky Saxon) - 15:59
21.It's A Hard Life (Take 3) - 2:37
22.Nobody Spoil My Fun (Alternate Overdub Take 3a) - 3:50
All songs by Sky Saxon excpt where stated
Bonus Tracks 13-22
*Sky Saxon - Vocals, Bass, Harmonica
*Daryl Hooper - Piano, Organ
*Jan Savage - Lead, Rhythm, Twelve String Guitar
*Rick Andridge - Drums
1967 The Seeds - Future (Vinyl edition)
1967 The Seeds - Future (2013 double disc digipack edition)
1986 Sky "Sunlight" Saxon And Firewall - Destiny's Children