Listen to this track by Pacific Northwest R&B supplicants the Sonics. It’s “Have Love Will Travel” (that title being a possible reference to Have Gun Will Travel, a TV western program), a well-travelled rock tune, written by the same guy who wrote “Louie Louie” , Richard Berry. This tune would be covered by many from Stiv Bators, to Tom Petty & The Heartbrekers, to the Black Keys.
This version of the song appears on the Sonics 1965 album Here Are the Sonics, a release that would characterize ’60s garage music, and later be seen as the roots of punk in the 1970s. The group grew out of the growing Seattle rock scene, among the first bands to forge a scene in that city that would endure for decades. The band were quintessential garage rockers, with a clear mission to deliver scrappy and loud R&B in a rock context.
The album contains several of what can be considered classics of the R&B catlog including Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”, Rufus Thomas’ “Walkin’ The Dog”, Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want”), and Ray Charles “Night Time Is the Right Time”, among others.
All of these songs were the early templates for the British bands that had loved the originals and that had sold them back to American audiences during the British Invasion. And even if the Animals, The Stones, Them, the Yardbirds, and others had gone past this canon of material by the mid-60s, it was still very much alive and well on garage scenes all over the United States and Canada, even if many bands would not distinguish themselves by covering them.
But, what of this song by R&B vocalist and writer Richard Berry, and why is the Sonic’s version of it so undeniable, influencing so many down the decades? Read more