Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 6th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2008
Director: Melissa Kirkendall
DVD released: October 22nd, 2010
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Left-Handed Productions
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $10.00
Let’s throw out a few names of the ‘big time’ garage punk hits: 96 Tears (? and the Mysterians), A Question Of Temperature (Balloon Farm), We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet (Blues Magoos), Pushin’ Too Hard (Seeds), Talk Talk (Music Machine), Little Girl (Syndicate Of Sound). Of course, there were lots more. But the point is that most of the hits were from New York and California, because that’s where the major record labels were located. Only ? and the Mysterians, from the list above, were not from NY or CA. They hailed from Texas, then moved to Detroit. The other major hotspot of the time was Florida. Every town in the US had their teen garage bands (and Canada, Australia, etc.), but those three regions (TX, FL, MI) had local teen scenes that really smoked.
Also important is the mathematical aspect: the garage scene represents a perfect bell curve. It pretty much started in ’64 (inspired by the Beatles), gained steadily in ’65, then peaked in ’66. Then the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper in mid ’67, and the live teen combo sound was suddenly out of vogue. There were still a few quality recordings from ’68, but it was the end of an era. And to prove it, the Beatles broke up soon thereafter.
Which brings us to Fort Worth, Texas. Did they have the best local music scene of the time? Well, this project is obviously a labor of love, and it’s also obvious that everyone involved actually thinks they did. But that’s okay, when you have interviews and archival footage with The Elite and Larry and the Blue Notes. Not only were they "local heroes", but each had a record released nationally (see the extras section). Equally interesting are the lesser known groups – everyone has tales to tell, and there are lots of rare photos, newspaper clippings, and home movie footage interspersed with the recent interviews.
The interview segments are a wonder to behold and look fantastic. Unfortunately, the sound is not nearly so good, and some of the comments are obscured. The snatches of music are well placed, but the pan & scan and effects of the archival presentation (photos, press releases, etc.) are sometimes overdone.
The extras include a groovy fluorescent guitar pick, and a two tune CD featuring Night Of The Sadist by Larry and the Blue Notes, and One Potato by The Elite. Those are the two nationally released records previously mentioned, except that Night Of The Sadist was crudely overdubbed and released as Night Of The Phantom. The sound quality here is absolutely magnificent, and you can hear pealing guitars during the verses that were previously obscured. Also excellent is One Potato , inspired by The Trashmen’s monster hit from ’63, Surfin’ Bird. Not included, however, is the continuation on the other side titled Two Potato, which is nowhere near as raucous but features some great blasts of guitar. Listen here.
Teen-A-Go-Go, named after a hot teen club by that name, is essential for anyone interested in the sixties teen garage band era. It’s even features interview clips with Bugs Henderson, lead guitarist for Mouse and the Traps from Tyler, TX (‘A Public Execution’). Lenny Kaye, who brought garage music ‘back from the grave‘ with the Nuggets compilation, is also on hand.