The historical importance of the Wailers
is undeniable. They were one of the very first, if not the first, of the American garage bands. Backing Rockin' Robin Roberts
, they revamped an obscure R&B song called "Louie Louie" into a 1961 local hit that served as the prototype for the countless subsequent versions of the most popular garage song of the '60s. And their stomping, hard-nosed R&B/rock fusion inspired the Sonics
, who took the Wailers
' raunch to unimaginable extremes. While they anticipated the British Invasion bands with their brash, self-contained sound, their inability to write first-rate original material, as well as their rather outdated sax and organ-driven frat rock, put them in a distinctly lower echelon. As the decade progressed, the group did absorb mild folk-rock and psychedelic influences without great effect, either commercially or on their sound itself.