Passage to India
It’s been true since kids first got their mitts on guitars: Teenagers form bands to play covers of their favorite tunes, graduate to writing their own songs, draw modest crowds, get a whiff of success, aim for the top . . . and then go nowhere at all. The road to the musical big time is riddled with such corpses, bands that could have caught on if only they’d had the right riff/hook/haircut/manager. If only. THE ZAKARY THAKS have likely spent some time pondering this familiar narrative. During the mid-sixties, the five-piece band was popular in and around Corpus Christi but not many other places (though the group did manage to share bills with Jefferson Airplane and the 13th Floor Elevators). Yet the handful of singles they recorded, now compiled on the fascinating PASSAGE TO INDIA (Cicadelic), reveals a group whose incendiary psychedelic blues-rock measures up to the early work of their heroes, the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. Those familiar with the Thaks only because of “Bad Girl,” the single on the expanded 1998 edition of Nuggets (the bible of garage rock compilations), are in for a shock: “Bad Girl” doesn’t come close to being the best song here. “Face to Face” bristles with exhilaration, “Please” sounds like a British Invasion smash, and the fuzz of “Green Crystal Ties” and the previously unreleased title track wrinkles your speakers. Maybe the Thaks weren’t any better than a thousand other bands aiming for the top, but hearing them strive to get there makes a compelling case otherwise.