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TeenBeat Mayhem! 
Written by: on August 14th, 2012
Title: TeenBeat Mayhem!
Written By: Mike Markesich
Published by: Priceless Info Press
400 pages, Copyright 2012.
ISBN 978-0-985-64825-1 (US – $99.95)

If you remember 60’s AM and jukebox smash hits such as Question Mark and the Mysterians ’96 Tears’, Count Five ‘Psychotic Reaction’, Electric Prunes ‘I Had Too Much To Dream’, or Standells ‘Dirty Water’; it may come as some shock that they were only the veritable tip of the iceberg.  The advent of the Beatles and the subsequent British Invasion combined with the concurrent US surf, hot rod, folk, and girl group music scenes coalesced into what is now referred to as ‘garage rock’.  Teenage bands in the suburbs practiced in the garage, or wherever they could, playing at sockhops, teen clubs, and battles of the bands.  This was a unique period in US culture where teenagers (and even pre-teens) had come into their own as a consumer market to reckon with.  The baby boomer consumer base paired with the local record producer / radio station / store infrastructure kindled an explosion of product that is truly staggering.

For a grandly cinematic account of the scene, check out Tom Hank’s That Thing You Do (Director’s Cut recommended), or the documentary Teen-A-Go-Go taken from the point of view of a single home town, Ft. Worth, Texas.  Fascinating though these are, TeenBeat Mayhem is a product of 20 years of extensive research and finds garage bands from locations across the US providing release dates of each record, a brief description of the type and sub genre of music represented, and even a 1 – 10 scale panel rating of over 20,000 discs that identify the good, the great, and the absolute killers [genre slang for exceptional].  The author also provides several essays detailing the genesis, proliferation, demise, rediscovery, and resurgence of the garage band phenomenon.

Newbies should be advised that there are two ways to hear these tunes: from compilation CD’s (and/or LP’s), or to pony up for the original 45’s.  To identify the former, there is no better resource than the Searchin’ For Shakes website http://comps.soybomb.com/compsproject/intro.php hosted by Ugly Things.  One recommended collection with excellent sound quality is the Teenage Shutdown series.  To get a general idea of how deep pockets need be to procure original vinyl and/or styrene, the Garage Records Price and Reference Guide by Barry Wickham & Geoffrey Richman is recommended.  The hit songs previously mentioned represent the low end of the price scale due to availability, exceptional though they be (and the exception to that being the original label press of 96 tears).  Condition and rarity combine with musical value (or sometimes not) to determine value and/or price, which can be quite astounding, especially if the group later became famous (name changes are quite common).

Yes, there are limitations (everything is finite), such as no confirmed foreign bands (including Canada).  There are lots of one-of-a-kind acetates included, but many famous bands are not.  For example, Big Brother and the Holding Company [with Janis Joplin] doesn’t rate an entry, but does get honorable mention for one tune, ‘Light Is Faster Than Sound’.

This is a private press but professional in every way.  The large 8 1/2 X 11 hardbound book has good sharp print, quality paper, readable fonts, and as the showstopper, a color 45 label gallery of the top 1,000 garage records.  It should be noted that a few of these with poor color contrast are somewhat difficult to read, but you just need to discern a group or label name to look it up on Searchin’ For Shakes.  Consumer Advisory – I have thumbed it and laid it on it’s spine and cracked it open and slammed it shut a surprising number of tymes during the last two weeks.  Superb binding and heavy duty laminated hardcover should provide years of service.  But just to be sure, I got two.

This is a big, heavy book, so postage to foreign locations can be pricey.  For additional details, visit http://teenbeatmayhem.blogspot.com/ or get down and purchase at http://www.pricelessinfopress.com/.

Note: the aforementioned references include location and date references for groups falling outside the parameters for TBM.

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