Brown Paper Sack #1

Some of my favorite record-collector nutballs are the 60s punk maniacs who organically coalesced in the 1980s to fanatically scream their allegiance to unheard, raw 1965-66 American teenage garage rockers, and to orgasmically scream their disallegiance to just about everything else. Their ranks were certainly best exemplified by Tim Warren, the Crypt Records impresario who started putting out the mind-blowing Back From The Grave compilation series in 1983, and who then tacitly started releasing the Garage Punk Unknowns records two years later. For what it’s worth, I interviewed Warren about all this in issue #2 of my own magazine, which you can download a PDF of here. Yet he was in no way alone, as an avalanche of illegitimate 60s punk compilations that flowed forth in the 80s very much proved.

For a certain class of these obsessives, it’s as though 1967 came around and music completely, totally, 100% was over. That’s pretty much the tack taken by issue #1 of Brown Paper Sack. It came out in 1997 and far as I can gather was the work of Andrew Brown, a Houston, TX gentleman who wouldn’t put out a 2nd issue of this thing. While 60s punk “scholarship” had advanced quite impressively over the previous fifteen years to that point, Brown is definitely working his angle, which is most definitively Texas and Louisiana-based garage punk music of the 60s. It just so happened that Texas probably gave the world the single best per-capita ratio of screaming 60s punk bands of any of the fifty states, and therefore there’s a ton to mine in this particular angle. Around the time of Brown Paper Sack #1, a German label was putting out reissue CDs of the early 80s Flashback compilation series, now called Texas Flashbacks, and this stuff was finally beginning to be heard by folks beyond 1966 Texas teens, including by me.

I happen to have an all-time favorite 60s punk song, and that favorite is “Born Loser” by Tyler, TX’s Murphy and The Mob. Aside from the kernels of information included in the Back From The Grave Volume Three insert, the only Murphy and The Mob information I know of is Brown Paper Sack’s single-page interview with Terry Murphy, the titular head of the band. Like many of the energized and bewildered teens that made these records, they aimed to make a “British Invasion”-style A-side that might be their hit 45, a la “Psychotic Reaction” or “Dirty Water”, and often would bang out some crude B-side in an hour or two as a throwaway. Those throwaways, of course, are often the stuff of legend, a la The Twilighters’ “Nothing Can Bring Me Down” or Murphy and The Mob’s “Born Loser”, confirmed in the latter instance by this interview.

Brown either feigns or genuinely adopts a pissed, dismissive tone toward anything & everything that stood in the way of these latent garage heroes, including promoters, radio people, and every other form of music, especially pop. It’s honestly what I totally love about these guys. The one true path was defined by The Roamin’ Togas, The Gaunga Dins, The Basement Wall and so on – and fuck everyone else.

Like Ugly Things, Brown ensures that his interviews don’t simply scratch the surface but rather get down into every friggin’ detail imaginable; I mean, while most of the participants in mid-60s punk would have only been in their late forties by the time Brown caught up with them, their availability and recollections were likely deemed to have been extremely elusive, so best to catch everything now and not wait for someone else to fail to do it later. 26 years later, i.e. when I’m writing this, those still alive are now in their mid-70s – so if you ever personally wanted to grill an American 60s garage punk original mover, now would be the time. Brown Paper Sack #1 is absolutely upper-echelon 60s punk scholarship, and I’d love to know if Andrew Brown kept up his mania in print elsewhere anytime after this.

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