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18.00EUR

COUNT FIVE - Psychotic Reaction

LP-DSS-5001

Sello: Devon Music

LP

Here is an additional edition of my series of great, mostly obscure, one album wonders. In the album era (roughly the mid-1960s until the mid-2000s), the album was the dominant format of recorded music expression and consumption. It seems that most musicians from that era, if able to scrape together the funds for the recording of one studio album, generally returned with at least one more.  Some, like Sun Ra, somehow released more albums than I've had hot dinners. Even most excellent bands, in my opinion, would have done well to find something other to do with their time rather than keep making records after their fifth album or twelfth year (although there is the Go-Betweens Exception). The following acts mostly date fromthe Golden Age of the LP -- and yet were unable or unwilling, in all cases, to record more than one.

Like many people born after the 1960s, I first heard The Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" on the seminal compilation of '60s punk, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 (1972). The tune (a not especially scary slice of psychotic psychedelia made even less frightening by the sight of the members wearing Dracula-style capes) was for me one of the highlights of the compilation and sent me out on a quest to find more from the band.

The core of Count Five were John "Mouse" Michalski and Roy Chaney -- two transplants from theMidwest --  who co-formed The Squires in San Jose in 1964. After several line-up changes they were joined by John "Sean" Byrne, Kenn Ellner, and Craig "Butch" Atkinson and after adopting the inspired gimmick of dressing like bloodsucking surfers rechristened themselves The Count Five.

"Psychotic Reaction" was released in February 1965. It was re-released in 1966 at which point it rose (appropriately) to the number five spot on the Billboard charts. The band released their sole full-length, also called Psychotic Reaction, on Hollywood's then-new Double Shot Records, which along with two Whocovers, included nine songs which in several cases sound like little more than re-workings of their only hit -- which itself sounds quite indebted to the early singles of The Yardbirds (which were, of course, even more heavily indebted to American Blues musicians). In other words, it's not drawn from an especially deep well of inspiration and experience but that's sort of what makes it such a highly enjoyable example of garage rock.

In 1969 the counts quit the band for college and, despite their bonafide hit, seem to have somehow vanished from the public's memory until 1972, when they appeared on Nuggets and were evoked in Lester Bangs's essay "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung." The Count Five reunited in 1987 for a single performance in Santa Clara, California. Drummer Butch Atkinson died in 1998 and lead singer John Byrne died in 2008 from cirrhosis of the liver.


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