The Sixties saw the birth of a million and one garage bands, groups of friends getting together to jam and hopefully record some tracks and get famous like The Beatles. While fame and fortune were rare, many of these bands scraped together enough cash to record a song or two. Some of them even got airplay on regional radio, back when there was such a thing.
Time is short today, so this is gonna be quick. ‘96 Tears‘ by Question Mark & The Mysterians from Bay City, Michigan, is not a song about summer. But it is a song for summer. It’s a top-down, windows down, radio cranked up kind of song. It’s a perfect song. It may be the perfect song.
Today’s Song of Summer is a surf/garage rock hybrid from 1964. I first heard this song on a cassette I bought back in the 80’s at Wherehouse Records (R.I.P.) in East Lansing from Rhino Records called ‘Frat Rock‘,and I’ve been throwing it on summer mixtapes ever since. (Frat rock was a term coined for the raw, garage pop sound of bands in the early 60’s, and the wild beer-soaked frat parties they often gigged at. ‘California Sun‘ is a classic example of frat rock.) Oh, and I still have that cassette, which I consider one of the best music purchases I’ve ever made.
The Trashmen were a 4-piece rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1963 they recorded a song that I know you all know. They recorded quite a few songs, but this song is the one that made them famous. Maybe even infamous. It’s really the only song of theirs that was ever popular, reaching as high as #4 on the Billboard Top 100 charts in ’63.