This San Jose, CA band could be the poster act for "one hit wonders," given that anything beyond their seminal single, "Psychotic Reaction," is probably unknown beyond garage/psych aficionados and those who knew the band from live appearances. But like so many acts whose art only intersects popular acclaim for an instant, there was a great deal more to their catalog than one chart hit.
The Count Five were spawned by the same South Bay scene that produced The Syndicate of Sound, and, eventually, The Chocolate Watchband. They were a bona fide band of high school and college students who'd been gigging steadily by the time they landed a record contract with Double Shot. Even more importantly, the original song that would become their defining three minutes had been their calling card for countless label auditions; by the time they laid down the version that sparked national acclaim, the song had been allowed to marinate in numerous improvements. Even after they laid it down it was tweaked for AM radio with a razor blade laid to recording tape.
Big Beat's 24-track compilation pulls together the entire history of the band, from the original, unedited version of "Psychotic Reaction" and its reworked hit-single, through hastily recorded album tracks, and post-LP singles. Alec Palao's extensive liner notes include generous interviews with original band members and their management/production team. Of particular interest are the details of how regional radio play was parlayed (station-by-station!) into the critical mass of national chart success; a fascinating peek into the pre-consultant world of locally-controlled AM radio.
What comes through on this disc that the Count Five was an excellent garage band whose emphasis on Yardbirds' styled rock could spark up covers of British Invasion material (or, in the case of "You Must Believe Me," British interpretations of American soul songs) and fine originals. It's no wonder they were a favorite at area teen clubs, high school dances and mall openings! The mostly mono tracks are surprisingly clean and well produced (with excellent bass and drum sound), and #15, 16 and 21 are true stereo.