The Bad Seeds: a classic 60s Corpus band

For the past few issues, I’ve mentioned several modern local acts. I’ve written about the types of bands that you could go see live. This time, I’m looking back to the past for Corpus music with The Bad Seeds. Not Nick Cave’s band, but the Corpus-based garage rock band from the 1960s.

Consisting of front man Mike Taylor, fellow singer and guitarist Rod Prince, bassist Henry Edgington, and drummer Bobby Donaho, the four-piece was a popular Gulf Coast rock act during the mid-60s. Ultimately, like many white-hot garage acts of the time, they fizzled out as quickly as they came on the scene. Before they did, the band released three singles, each containing two songs. Let’s look, shall we?

A Taste of the Same

Let’s go to their very first song ever released. Written by Taylor, ‘A Taste of the Same’ is an old-school garage number with twinkling guitars and down-trodden vocals. And I mean ‘twinkling,’ because they are clunky and real high in the mix. Sure, you can the guitars as they’re getting picked, but they don’t ring. It’s not like a modern guitar sound. Regardless, it’s a decent number that I don’t fully see the dance-ability of but somehow it was a local hit.

For a little bonus, you can find a video of a primitive KIII News broadcast where in the band performs ‘A Taste of the Same’ in all its vintage TV glory. The performance itself isn’t much to write home about, mostly consisting of a little news broadcast chatter followed by the band miming along to the studio version of the song. However, if you’d like to see these obscure, decades-old bands perform the songs themselves, then this KIII broadcast is a good place to start.

I’m A King Bee

Now if you want to talk danceable music, your grandpa will likely bust a hip to this next number. I’d be tempted to as well, but that’s just because I love music in this classic vein. Playing the old-school blues in their clunky and slap back delay-laden music, ‘King Bee’ is a sub-two-minute ditty that would have gotten people in the jukebox joint moving. As for today? It still has some redeeming qualities, but ultimately, it’s a standard blues song. There’s not much more to say.

Zilch (Pts. 1 & 2)

Yet again, The Bad Seeds play the classic styles of the 1960s, going for surf rock. Taking a note out of Dick Dale’s book (see ‘Misirlou’ for reference) and playing as fast as a band could possibly at the time, ‘Zilch’ takes no time in blasting off into the atmosphere with blisteringly fast drums, danceable yet simple bass, and lightning-quick guitar, only periodically interrupted by an odd voice yelping out ‘zilch.’

I would consider this number one of their best, as The Bad Seeds’ sound were almost built for this exact sound. Everything sits exactly where it should, and there’s not a single note or shout of place. It holds up to this day.

All Night Long

Some people have called this band ‘proto-punk,’ that is to say that their songs built the template that bands like Sex Pistols and Ramones would eventually turn into punk rock in the late 70s. This song is the closest that the band has ever gotten to punk, with the near-shouting vocals and basic riffage punctuating the old-school lyrics practically whining about a woman lying about the singer.

With the added shouting and rapid guitar solo, I’m getting reminded of The Sonics, the quintessential proto-punk band, with an added fleck of Southern phlegm. Songs like ‘All Night Long’ are the reason that the stereotype of garage music being young adults bashing out simple songs about girls exist.

Sick and Tired

Finally, The Bad Seeds plays a song that stylistically reminds me of another one, namely ‘A Taste of the Same.’ They’re almost one-to-one: clunky yet driving guitars under a basic drumbeat while the singer whines about their relationship problems in the highest notes they can sing. I find myself coming back to ‘Sick and Tired’ more often though, as it picks up the tempo a bit more to where I’m invested in listening to the song again. Moreover, the music fits the feelings brought out better, being downtrodden but maintaining the aggression.

That was just a taste of classic Corpus Christi rock. You may be surprised to know this, but the city was a cultural hotspot back in the 60s. Bands like The Bad Seeds and The Zakary Thaks were some of the most popular garage rock acts at the time, being one part of a much larger movement across in the United States concerning loud and aggressive music being played with the cleanest distortion the decade could offer.

Consider them as a product of the time, though with redeemable qualities that don’t go far beyond the musical capabilities of their contemporaries (The Sonics,? and the Mysterians, The Kingsmen, etc.). While being a worthwhile listening experience given their local legend status, there’s a reason their best songs never elevated beyond the South Texas scene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *