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Gunge - Feel It! (1968)

One of these days I’m gonna kill everybody! Chico, California’s raw-assed sons of sonic anarchy, GUNGE come on with the attitude of the MC5 & the Stooges and the ear-bleeding riffery of first-album Blue Cheer. That’s GUNGE, not grunge, but fans of both those groups will find much to enjoy in the contents of Feel It!, which features a wild set of demos recorded in 1968 that have lain undisturbed until now. Featuring sundry illuminati from the North California Valley garage scene, had GUNGE gotten a release back in the day, they would now be celebrated as hard rocking pioneers. Their sound is a rough-hewn, brutally honest assault that – as the eye-popping artwork implies – literally pisses over most recent hard rock/psych reissues. Feel it! (source)

Chico is a northern California college town nestled among almond orchards and Red Staters. It gets most of its notoriety from being the place where Sierra Nevada is made, and where people (particularly students) party like it’s 1999 while drinking Sierra Nevada (and dollar Kamikaze shots served in beakers).

But it should be pointed out that some damn fine bands have come out of this cozy little Gomorrah with a farmers’ market. Most notable was 28th Day, the jangle-pop four-piece that featured a young Barbara Manning on bass and vocals. Around the same time Vomit Launch was also making pop songs that were much prettier than the band’s name may have indicated. Harvester and The Mother Hips also got their starts in Chico in the early-’90s. Not to mention the lesser-known bands that have popped up over the past couple of decades: Deathstar, The Makai, Cowboy and Severance Package to name a few.

For some reason most documentation of Chico’s musical history only goes back as far as 1976 with the eternal, better-late-than-never Flower Power of Spark ‘n’ Cinder. But the crate-diggers at Frantic Records spent 12 years searching for long-lost musical relics from northern California, and Chico in particular. Last year the label (also responsible for the great 2002 reissue from Sacramento proto-punks Public Nuisance) released Up From the Grave, a collection of 30 unreleased songs from northern California bands that lurked beneath the purple haze in the mid-to-late ’60s, including The Boy Blues, Psycho and Drusalee & the Dead, whose lead singer emerged from a coffin during shows.

Along with Up From the Grave Frantic also released albums by two more Chico bands—Colours‘ Voluptuous Doom, Christian‘s Good Vs. Evil, and Feel It! by a noisy five-piece called Gunge. While most bands of the time clung to British Invasion, Gunge was feeling the doom and blues of Blue Cheer and Cream. In 1968 the band rolled their gear over to Chico State and recorded seven songs with engineer Wayne Leathers. Feel It! leads off with “One of These Days,” a stoner-riffed monster with the cheery opening line: “One of these days I’m gonna shoot everybody.” Of course, this was back before kids actually acted on it. Damn video games.

Gunge only lasted a year. And the Feel It! tapes were lost (probably in the drummer’s underwear drawer) for 40 years, collecting dust, mold, grime … which, of course, adds to the experience. The fidelity is low. But isn’t that all the rage with the kids these days? Stick around for “Chico Chicks,” a funny little tape-recorded interview with fans at a Gunge show in 1968 where one groovy concert-goer accidentally refers to the band as “Grunge.” Sorry, Mr. Arm, we now know where the term really started. (source)

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