200-word Reviews: Five Vinyl Records (Featuring The Heathens)

Heathens – “Steady Girl”
The people involved in bringing this archival gem to light are calling it “the first garage rock record ever made.” Cut in 1956 at Sun Studio, this tune was written and recorded by five Memphis teenagers. Unusual for its time, the band included a girl, Kaye Garren, who co-wrote the song and penned the modern-day essay that accompanies the single. The recording is quite professional sounding (fidelity wise, and though the essays explains that the performance was deemed “too raw” for release, to current-day ears it sounds much like the modern primitive style of groups like The Cramps and Tav Falco. The group is pretty loose, yes, but as is so often the case whenever one is speaking of “garage” music, the enthusiasm, verve and spirit more than make up for any technical shortcomings. The song itself is pretty good for a bunch of teens, especially when one considers they didn’t have the whole of rock history to draw upon for their ideas. The sixties’ garage mine has pretty well been stripped (or so we think), but the existence of this tape – two not-terribly-different-from-one-another runthroughs – leads one to wonder what other unheard, raw and primitive gems are out there.