They were hardly the first of what we have long since known as garage bands, but you would be hard enough pressed to find a garage band this side of the original Stooges with as much furious chutzpah as the Count Five. At essence a quintet of R and B aspirants, the Count Five melded that with their having been, apparently, blown away completely by the Yardbirds' version of it, to forge an attack of cheerful inspired amateurism with more than traces of fury. The Count Five weren't exactly the only ones looking to make their own version of the Yardbirds' music in the mid-1960s - but they came up with unquestionably the most inspired cops thereof, "Psychotic Reaction" mashing the verse structure of "Over Under Sideways Down" and, for the instrumental breaks, the lunatic chaos which closed out the British quintet's take on Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man".
So who cares if the rest of the album is filler when held up against "Psychotic Reaction"? This pack put together more furiously engaging filler than an awful lot of allegedly superior acts were doing in the mid-1960s (and if you can listen to "Pretty Big Mouth" or "Peace of Mind," or "Double Decker Bus" and not get caught in the chutzpah and the thrust of it all, you're obviously having a bad day), and they seemed to hit each song as though they'd never get to cut another one for as long as they lived. In more ways than one, the Count Five should have received what the Kingsmen got - the Kingsmen got "Louie, Louie" and a world of legend out of all proportion to their overall selves (let's face it: the Kingsmen's filler makes the Count Five's resemble "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"), while the Count Five had to settle merely for being a semi-legend of psychedelic punk grunge.
But if they really were playing as though they'd never get to cut anything else with each song, they couldn't have been more wrong; the Count Five actually had a couple more albums in them - the ones to hunt out are "Carburetor Dung" and "Cartesian Jetstream," both of which damn near make "Psychotic Reaction" the album sound like Herman's Hermits, even if their songs aren't exactly up to "Psychotic Reaction's" lineup. (Not for nothing did the late, legendary gonzo rock critic Lester Bangs spin his most memorable essay among a pack of memorables off the Five - "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: A Tale of These Times," which ended up becoming the title essay of a posthumous collection of his most representative criticism.) Those who wonder which was the missing root of both punk and grunge, this is said root. In ways they probably would not have given a thought to knowing, Nirvana, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the New York Dolls, the MC5, and the Stooges owed at least as much a debt to the Count Five as to anyone else, and probably more so.