Question Mark & The Mysterians - 96 Tears
Without even thinking hard I can reel off half a dozen bands who have covered this song, from Eddie and the Hot Rods to Slipknot, but I would struggle to think of a cover of any of their other such is the predominance of "96 Tears". And yet, to label Question Mark and the Mysterians as one hit wonders would be unfair. They put out a number of classy singles in their time, and a few of them are drawn from this, their debut album.
Now Rudi Martinez, aka ?, may have changed his name by deed poll to ?. He was also, in later years, a bit off the rails, believing he was a Martian who had a pet tyrannosaur and that he was destined to play "96 Tears" in his sunglasses (which he never takes off) until ten millennia had passed. I guess the one hit wonder status affected him too. But listen to "Why Me?", less than ninety seconds of infectious pop melody. And do that just for a start. The cover of "Midnight Hour" is another fine example of how the garage rock ethos could lead a band to great music.
Of course, garage rock different from punk in a number of ways significantly. It did not necessarily set out to be anti-establishment (though the Sonics would probably argue with that one), and the dominant musical instrument was not the guitar but that Voxx organ, an instrument which sounds dated, almost cheesy nowadays. But the result was the same in the end. If Iggy Pop, or even Lou Reed, were to deny the influence this band had on their own musical careers then I would call either out as a liar.
But don't just take my word for it. Listen to the album. Although a lot of it nowadays can be regarded as standard garage rock with no particular merit, remember that this was one of the first. And by the time the album reaches what would have been the second side of the original vinyl, things have really begun to heat up. And if you don't recognise that classic Voxx intro to "96 Tears" then I would question where you have been all your life.
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