Psychotic Reaction, by Count Five (Double Shot, 1966; Concord Bicycle Music, 2017)
With tomorrow being Record Store Day (or the first half of Record Store Day, or the first day of Record Store Days, or whatever), I pulled out one of my favorite grabs from a past RSD, this mono reissue of the lone LP release by a band of young garage rockers from California (via Ireland, Ohio and other parts) known as the Count Five.
Psychotic Reaction is not a great album, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a fun one, notable for three reasons. One, it’s one of the first albums by an American band to feature covers by a little British quartet called The Who, which it does here with “My Generation” and “Out In The Street,” at a time when next to no one in the US knew of the band.
Two, noted rock journalist Lester Bangs wrote a rather famous essay, “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung,” that lauded the band in the ’70s for this album and their string of subsequent albums that aptly demonstrated their musical growth, and sent the kids scrambling to find whatever Count Five records they could. Never mind that none of these subsequent albums actually existed. The essay became the stuff of rock legend, and thus so did the Count Five.
Third, though, and most importantly, it contains the title track, which is the whole reason the band was herded quickly into the studio to make an album in the first place. It’s a seminal piece of garage rock that peaked at #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in late 1966 and is a bedrock track on Lenny Kaye’s superb Nuggets compilation for Elektra in 1972 that brought focus to the psych and garage music that bred proto-punk.
The album itself is largely comprised of songs quickly written by the lead singer, John “Sean” Byrne, an Irish ex-pat with a distinctive whine, that are likable but not particularly memorable (save for maybe “Pretty Big Mouth”). The band, who liked to perform wearing Count Dracula-style capes, did not enjoy long success. Most of the members were college-aged and wished to pursue further studies, and Count Five was no more by 1969. Still, most musicians would give their eyeteeth to have one song as impactful as “Psychotic Reaction.”
This mono reissue is OOP, but can be found in NM for under $30 relatively easily. Craft Recordings put out a 180g stereo reissue of this the following year. Worth a grab if you’re a garage fan or curious about the early Who covers; otherwise, the Nuggets compilation with the title track is the better way to go. You can listen to the whole thing in glorious stereo below. For mono, cover an ear.