Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sonics, "Boss Hoss" (1965)


So many choices when it comes to the classics of Pacific Northwest rock 'n' roll it's ridiculous, like choosing a favorite snowy peak from all the Cascade Range. Shasta? Rainier? Hood? First I had to settle on the Sonics over the Wailers, Kingsmen, Raiders, and others, and then I had to settle on "Boss Hoss" over "Strychnine," "The Witch," "Psycho," and others. You have to start somewhere; it might as well be here. It's two and a half minutes, a notably pure example of raunchy powerhouse, music made by boys that sounds like men fighting in bars. It rumbles in and moves with the grace and mass of a flashy big car made for cruising and racing. As it happens, that's what the song is about. The singer saved his money and bought these wheels, this boss hoss, for the express purpose of beating everyone and getting the chicks. Now he's bragging. That's what the song is. You hear it in the way his singing veers toward a species of jeering. Maybe, on that level, my favoring it is something to do with the specter of Big Daddy Ed Roth, which hovers around the edges of anything from the '60s to do with cherry rides and monster vibes, maybe even a little more so on "Boss Hoss." Maybe it's that chattering sax solo that erupts like a volcano out of the middle of it. Or maybe I couldn't make a choice after all and "Boss Hoss" is just a placeholder, sitting in for dozens more songs and bands behind it. Listen up. This is the kind of thing you pulled out of a cereal box and your life changed forever.

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