Question Mark and The Mysterians

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by David Fufkin


It is always with a mixture of dread and hopeful anticipation that I meet the arrival of any new material from a former legendary band like the infamous Question Mark and The Mysterians. Will they still have it? Will the new material merely be a shadow of the former stuff?

Question Mark and The Mysterians is the band that brought us the second most famous organ driven song of all time, “96 Tears”. “I’m gonna cry, cry, cry, cry…too many teardrops….” My Dad even knows it. What is the first you ask? My vote would be for “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs tied with “Light My Fire” by The Doors. So, I guess it’s #2.5 or #3. Who cares: all great songs. I digress.

Anyway, how does this stack up? They mix garage classics old and new over two discs, giving us a version of “96 Tears” as well as one in Spanish (The Band is of Mexican descent) as well as a couple of demos from 1966. The demos are the highlight for me. It is pretty good overall. Not amazing in a Get Hip label kind of way. I mean it’s not like a Cynics record or something as good as The Resonars “Bright and Dark”.

Why do I just “like” the CD. Because the band is recorded in a way unlike the way it was done in the ‘60s. The best garage bands of today use the technology of yesterday to get the “sound”. Listen to The Gripweeds or The Resonars. Lots of use of 8-track and 4-track recording. Huge plate reverb. It has to be done that way to capture the “sound”. Don’t get me wrong, the band still has it. It’s just not in the “I’m not worthy” category.

Listen closely to the headphone song Jon Cusack has on early in the new movie, High Fidelity, “You’re Gonna Miss Me”. Listen to the snotty, huge room plate reverb vocals: “you didn’t real…..iiiiiii…....iiiiiiii…....iiiiiiize.” That is the classic “sound” of garage music. What a great scene. Again, I digress. Sorry. Just trying to make a point.

I have a lot of respect for this band’s contribution to the garage genre of music, mostly because their hit “96 Tears” helped spawn hundreds of garage bands in the ‘60s who gave us the real classics of the garage punk genre. All of those bands were inspired by The Stones for sure, but it had to be encouraging to see that a band from the USA could rise out of nowhere with a monstrous hit blaring out of every radio in America.

Is this as essential as the Nuggets box set? No. Is it a worthy effort for the garage expert? Yes. These guys deserve respect and they have that from me. Good stuff.

E-mail [email protected] for information on how to order this recording. And who is Question Mark anyway. No one will ever know.

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