In Sopranos mastermind David Chase's new film Not Fade Away, we get an up-close peek at the world of a '60s garage-rock band, with the movie's musical side overseen by Sopranos actor, Springsteen guitarist and noted garage-rock expert Steven Van Zandt. As the film quite rightly points out from the get-go, most garage rockers of that era were -- like the one whose story is told in Not Fade Away -- unknowns, the kind of short-lived regional band whose one or two little-known 45s would find their way into the hearts of '60s fetishists like Van Zandt and his Nuggets-worshipping cabal, while a scant few broke through to greater renown.
The Power of the Fuzz Pedal
But as the recent reissue of the aforementioned seminal '60s garage-rock anthology Nuggets (originally assembled in 1972 by former teen garage-rock enthusiast and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye) reminds us, not all the great rock 'n' roll has come from top-tier superstars. Whether you're talking about Farmer John by the short-lived Premiers, or Lies by the (relatively) more high-profile Knickerbockers, these rough-edged 45s were the sounds that electrified the '60s just as much as the more mainstream bands. And when the fledgling band featured in Not Fade Away laboriously works up a cover of The Rascals' comparatively lushly produced I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, it's a testament to the extra jolt of energy added to everything from blues chestnuts to R&B hits as they were covered by scrappy '60s garage rockers.
Reverberating Though The Decades
Naturally, that same sort of raucous, raw-boned feel was generated down through the decades when subsequent generations coughed up their own equivalents to the fuzztone stompers of the '60s. In the '80s it was straight revivalists like The Lyres and The Zantees. But by the turn of the millennium, of course, a new breed of garage-identifying acts were barnstorming the indie-rock scene and demanding a return to the rock 'n' roll verities, from (eventual) marquee names like The Strokes and The Hives to less celebrated but no less spunky bands such as The Forty-Fives and The Greenhornes. As each era continues to remind us, no matter how far rock ventures from the garage, it always finds its way back eventually, which is why garage rock can be counted upon to, well, not fade away.