The last few years records of rare and current pop from Africa have been coming out from the likes of Analog Africa, Mississippi Records and Sound Way, Sublime Frequencies and Honest Jon’s on a weekly basis. The heightened exposure of African pop has been a boon, but if you’ve been looking stuff outside of Africa the pickings have been a bit more slim. Say you were looking for for garage sounds from Persia you probably been coming up empty handed. The other day I was flipping through records over at Sonic Boom in Ballard and came across this beautiful cover (above) in the new release bin. Who knew that Iran even had a psychedelic garage scene in the 1960’s? I sure didn’t, but there it was as plane as day, 17 Golden Garage Psych Nuggets from the Iranian 60’s Scene (released back in April of this year). My curiosity had been piqued and I pulled the record from the bin, paid more than I probably should have for it and with a rush of excitement went home and put it on the turntable.
I’m pretty sure that the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea have little to no surf. Lack of any big waves along the Persian coast did not seem to stop the Ventures from becoming a pretty big influence in Iran in the 1960’s because more than a couple of the songs on this compilation have that surf, twang sound that the Tacoma band perfected. That kind of makes sense, because the Ventures specialized in instrumental rock and thus there were no lyrics to decipher or translate just the primal stomp of the guitar, bass and drums. It wasn’t all Ventures influence in 1960’s Iran, Ojooba Ha get a little psychedelic Circa the Beatles‘ Revolver on one song and then go all Morricone on another, the Littles have a Mamas & the Papas thing goin’ on, and Group Takhala La could be the Iranian Animals. There is also some funk courtesy a strange cover of Respect from Googoosh. Based on this record it seems like the scene in Iran at this time was both diverse and exciting.
The record has extensive liner notes that set the scene and try to explain how Iran has always been at a tug of war between religion and a Western affectation that many people in the country have. It also tries to piece together a history of the bands on the record, but because of Iran’s closed society the task is left up to afficionatos from the Netherlands and Turkey. The liner notes, like the record, leave you with a vague sense of the 60’s rock scene in Iran and wanting to find out more about it. The entire thing leaves me hoping that this isn’t just a one-off release. There is more, and if this has you curious about rock n’ roll in Iran I found a compilation that came out in 2004 of the Iranian punk scene called The Persian New Waves (Mawdj-e Naw e Farsi), but it looks to be out of print. I haven’t found a copy (digital or otherwise) yet, but I’ll keep hunting.