11 February, 2016
You might know that I've got a decent sized archive of vintage 60s music magazines. I've decided to create a 'page' (not a group) where I'll upload scans, reviews, photos, interviews and adverts. The reason for this is to keep everything in one place and not scattered about all over the place.
I won't 'add' anyone cos that's not my style so I'll send out the odd reminder every now and again.
"Like" the page for updates on your own timelines...
here's the link for any Facebook users:
07 February, 2016
THE FREEBORNE - "Yellow Sky" (Monitor) May 1968
Readers may have noticed that I'm covering 60s psych songs with either 'sky' or 'skies' within the song title. I never for one moment realized that there were so many until I started doing some research and flicked through my archive of 45s and vinyl LPs.
This leads me to obscure teenage group The Freeborne from Boston, Massachusetts. They released an album during May 1968 on the Monitor Record label and hung around long enough to make waves in their home domain.
My pick is the rather British influenced psych of "Yellow Sky" which is notable for it's trippy wah wah guitars, weaving drum patterns, la la la background vocals and off-kilter time changes.
06 February, 2016
BRYAN MACLEAN "Orange Skies" 1966
Following on from my earlier post of the Love version of "Orange Skies" here's songwriter Bryan Maclean's earlier acoustic demo. Just Bryan, his guitar and those unique tender vocals.
Extract from Sundazed's Bryan MacLean CD retrospective "Ifyoubelievein" from 1997.
In those few instances when MacLean's songwriting matched Lee's exacting standards, the actual recording sessions were stressful and, to MacLean, often disappointing. He didn't even get to sing "Orange Skies" on Da Capo: Lee did the honours.
"That was the closest Arthur and I ever got to a fist fight", he says of the September 27, 1966 session for the song. "I never felt that he was on pitch. Maybe he didn't miss as bad as I thought he did while we were in the studio. But he misses on orange. I don't think he quite got the notes. Then again, he was always singing out of his range."
LOVE - "Stephanie Knows Who" / "Orange Skies" (Elektra EK-45608) October 1966
This is a rare Love record, it's my white label promo sent to Radio Stations back in October 1966. It was then quickly withdrawn and released again but this time replacing "Stephanie Knows Who" with "She Comes In Colors." Quite why is anybody's guess!
I'll focus on Brian Maclean's rhythmic latin love ballad "Orange Skies" which he wrote in 1965 when he was a young roadie for The Byrds. The following information is taken from the liners of my "Da Capo" CD re-issue on Elektra.
Good vibes notwithstanding, the first day of recording on September 27th, 1966 at RCA Studios in Hollywood held some tense moments. "On 'Orange Skies' there's a flute part in there and they kept threatening to call Herbie Mann in because Tjay could not get this part right simply because we were out of tune," remembers Echols. "You see what happened was we tuned up this harpsichord and the harpsichord was off and so everything was slightly off and he couldn't get his flute to play in tune."
03 February, 2016
THE HARD TIMES - "Loving You" / "You Couldn't Love Me" (Ultimate 1) March 1966
Online website Garage Hangover has the scoop on this group from Birmingham, Alabama including rare photos and an interview with a member of the band.
"You Couldn't Love Me" was a throwaway B-Side which was basically a one take recording. I don't think it's that great mainly because the vocals are in a greaser rocker style but the twangy guitar is neat. The other side is a ballad with female backing vocals.
The Hard Times changed their name to The Rites Of Spring and released "Comin' On Back To Me" / "Why" on Parkway during the back end of '66.
02 February, 2016
THE CHOSEN FEW - "Asian Chrome" / "The Earth Above The Sky Below" (Liberty 55962) April 1967
There were numerous groups in the 60s called The Chosen Few, this particular outfit is believed to have been based in Simi Valley, California.
Their first single of two on the Liberty label was "Synthetic Man" / "Last Man Alive" and is well worth locating, quite a strange sound creation, many ideas too. The same can be said for their final single released April 1967.
"Asian Chrome" is perhaps The Chosen Few's most well known song having gained exposure on Boulders #7 back in the mid 80s. No doubt the sound quality was terrible on that thing so I would suggest finding a copy of the original 45.
The other side "The Earth Above The Sky Below" is a psychedelic pop gem, the lead vocals are strong and the background 'ba ba bah's' add a certain trippy texture. There is also an off-kilter recorder break, at least that's what I think it is. Most definitely a group with their own unique sound over their two single releases.
01 February, 2016
THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE - "That Same Old Fat Man" / I Feel Loved" (Smash S-2117) September 1967
"That Same Old Fat Man" is bouncy and pleasant 60s pop psych composed and recorded by Kenny Young. I'm not certain if San Francisco Earthquake were a group as such, my guess is that it was basically just Young and some studio musicians......toytown here we come!
This was the debut San Francisco Earthquake single on Smash and four more would follow over the next two years. I have found no evidence that any of them were hits so Kenny Young did very well indeed to get his songs heard via 45s.
A good source of Kenny Young information can be found here
|Billboard - July 1967|
|Billboard - October 1967|
31 January, 2016
THE CALIFORNIA SPECTRUM - "Sassafras" / "Obviously Bad" (Rasberry Swawfly 9735) 1968
Here's one of my latest rare and obscure 60s psych 45s. This is by The California Spectrum which were The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band recorded under a pseudonym during 1968.
"Sassafras" is a melodic folk tune, produced by Bob Markley. I don't suppose the record had much distribution beyond Los Angeles. Pacific Palisades, CA (otherwise known as Santa Monica) is where Jim Morrison and amigos hung, in the beachy neighborhood of UCLA.
The other side "Obviously Bad" is a short instrumental.
25 January, 2016
GREAT UNCLE FRED - "I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" (Strike JH-324) January 1967
The oddly named and obscure group Great Uncle Fred are believed to have their origins in Great Yarmouth and the small East Anglian beat scene. At that particular period they were calling themselves The Millionaires.
Sometime in 1966 a decision was made to turn professional and relocate to London for a shot at the big time. Sadly, all that came from their endeavours was this lone single on Strike. It's gotta be said that the Strike label design is one of mod beauty.
In London they changed their name to Great Uncle Fred and recorded a Harvey Freed pop art number "I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" which by all accounts almost made the Top 40 in the Disc & Music Echo Chart during February 1967.
"I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" is an odd little number combining a mod beat with a Russian style sound. Very Cossack au go go. It sounded different and unique enough to be a hit. Shame then that this one shot at stardom was Great Uncle Fred's last.
The single was compiled in the 90s on the vinyl only compilation "Incredible Sound Show Stories - Volume 14" also known as "Candy Coloured Dreams."
The B-Side is an instrumental of the same song but with a slightly different mix, some echo and a louder guitar part.
Terry Mansi (vocals)
Dennis Ward (vocals)
Brian Roberts (guitar)
Tony Collier (bass)
Terry Rouse (drums)
a source of information about the East Anglian beat scene can be found here.
24 January, 2016
THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "I Need You" (Imperial Records LP-12359) 1967
My Sunshine Company excavation continues with their first album release on Imperial Records from 1967. The long player was only released in America and it contains a couple of songs not available on the UK release which was basically a patched up version of their first two American albums.
My pick is their splendid interpretation of The Beatles' "I Need You" written by George Harrison and available on their 1965 "Help" release. The Sunshine Company transform the song into a flower pop gem, adding harmonies and baroque instrumentation to create a perfect soundscape of Los Angeles coolness.
Bill McEuen, Manager of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band discovered them during their first engagement at The Mecca, a Southern California folk club. Two weeks later their unique sound was recorded by Imperial Records.
The Sunshine Company concentrate on vocals. They are famous for their beautiful vocal qualities and harmonic blends. They are all serious musicians and are very creative instrumentally, but they realize that talent is not necessarily commensurate with degree of volume. (Sue Cameron - Teen Magazine)
Maury Manseau (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Larry Sims (bass)
Merle Brigante (drums)
Douglas Mark (lead guitar)
Mary Nance (vocals)
19 January, 2016
DAVIE JONES & THE KING BEES - "Liza Jane" / "Louie, Louie Go Home" (Decca F13807) June 1964
Last week I as as shocked as anyone to hear the news that David Bowie had died. I've never bought any Bowie records post 1965 so he's not had much impact on my life but I can appreciate the fact that he's influenced thousands of musicians and vocalists over the years.
My way of tribute is this tremendous R&B pounder from Davie Jones & the King Bees released June 1964. My copy is a 70s limited reissue and still very collectable.
It was originally released on Vocalion and if you're lucky enough to have a copy of that one you've got a record valued at around £1,250 according to the Record Collector Price Guide.
If you're only familiar with the famous Bowie records check this one out for something completely different but GREAT.
10 January, 2016
THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "Back On The Street Again" / "I Just Want To Be Your Friend" (Liberty LIF 66260F) October 1967
Here is my copy of the rare French release housed within a unique picture cover. The phrase sunshine pop couldn't be any more apt to describe the lyte flower power sounds of the classic 'Back On The Street Again'.... The Sunshine Company formed in Los Angeles during 1967 and combined their soft vocal harmonies with the folk rock sound to produce two and a bit minutes of perfect harmony pop.
Comparisons with The Mamas And The Papas were inevitable but the group were quick to distance themselves from that outfit during an interview with KRLA Beat.
Leader Maury Manseau stated:
"I think the comparison is valid only in the fact that both of us are vocal groups. But then - it's not really that either, because we do our own instrumentals all the time, and they have a band behind them. I think we've got our own thing and it's different."
'Back On The Streets Again' was a hit and work poured in. They appeared on TV Shows Joey Bishop, Woody Woodbury and The Laugh In. Maybe one day tapes of these performances will show up on You Tube. The Sunshine Company also recorded a vocal backing for a Clairol TV Commercial.
Compilation appearances have been rare (they won't appeal to the fuzz and farfisa crowd) but this song surfaced on Nuggets Volume 10 (Rhino Records) back in the mid 80s.
The B-Side, and the song highlighted today is "I Just Want To Be Your Friend" which was written by Curt Boettcher and also recorded by his late 60s group The Millenium.
Guitarist Douglas Mark was previously a member of The Grains Of Sand.
07 January, 2016
HEAD AND THE HARES - "Painted Air" / "No Use In Tryin" / "How Many" (Outer Limits OL.62.705) 1995
I posted images of both Head and the Hares singles way back in 2007 with the intention of writing about them, it seems that I forgot! For those who don't know Head and the Hares formed in Rome during the late 80s but at this point in time they were called The Spookies, their sound was also radically different going all out for 60s garage punkers.
They changed direction and name then started creating a much more subtle sound mixing low-key folk rock with the purist teen sounds from New England from the '66 era. Their cover versions became much more obscure with less focus on "Back From The Grave" style boneshakers.
"Painted Air" originally recorded by The Remaining Few is an extraordinary cover version which is very faithful the 60s acid punk classic. Quite how The Head and the Hares were able to recreate this sound in the (mostly dullsville) 90s is mind boggling.
The other side of the disc is very special too. "How Many" is a low-key moody gem and that's followed by a killer version of The Five Bucks nugget "No Use In Tryin"
This is certainly one of my favourite 45s from Italy.
|fab label design|
05 January, 2016
HEAD AND THE HARES - "Two Tymes" / "Lost" (Stanton Park M-107) 1992
I posted images of both Head and the Hares singles way back in 2007 with the intention of writing about them, it seems that I forgot! For those who don't know Head and the Hares formed during the late 80s but at this point in time they were called The Spookies, their sound was also radically different going all out for 60s garage punkers.
They changed direction and name then started creating a much more subtle sound mixing low-key folk rock with the purist teen sounds from New England from the '66 era. Their cover versions became much more obscure with less focus on "Back From The Grave" style boneshakers.
"Two Tymes" is a group original and sounds very cool indeed but even better is their version of "Lost" written by T. McCall. Is this Toussaint McCall? Anyway, if it is I've never heard the original but The Head & the Hares version certainly delivers the goods. Seek out this single as fast as you can for your kicks and shakes.
01 January, 2016
STEVEN ROBACK - "Brightside" / "Sudden Rain" (Rough Trade 45rev23) October 1993
It's been a long time since I posted anything here not from the 60s but my plan is to post a lot more contemporary records, photos and ephemera on my blog in 2016. I'll also revisit old entries and update the information, add more photos and perhaps upload a YouTube video. I have a lot of stuff and I dig sharing and finding out more information about certain items.
Take this obscure solo 45 on Rough Trade by ex Rain Parade member Steven Roback from October 1993 for instance. Steven played bass, guitar, added vocals and produced.... Aided by former band mate Matt Piucci on guitar, organ and percussion. So it's very much a project that will interest fans of Rain Parade...
There is a fine 'Paisley Underground' Facebook group and I asked Matt to fill in some blanks. The photo of Steven adorning the front sleeve was taken by Missy Roback. The song "Brightside" was done at the old Polymorph studios in Temescal, recorded by Stickman.
I believe "Brightside" was very much taster for the Viva Saturn album of the same name which came out a couple of years later in 1995 although the latter was a re-recording.
31 December, 2015
THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "Happy" / "Blue May" (Imperial IM-6351) June 1967
I've recently highlighted Hollywood group The Sunshine Company on my blog choosing a couple of obscure album cuts that weren't used as single sides. So I thought it a good idea to post their first single from mid 1967.
"Happy" was given A-Side status and it delivered them an instant summer of love hippie hit.
Also of interest is their supreme flip "Blue May" written by their lead vocalist Maury Manseau. It's a classic jangle folk-pop tune with a wonderful melody and exquisite harmonies.
Listen out for their Byrds homage mid way through the song when they throw their "The World Turns All Around Her" in the mix.
"Blue May" was easily good enough for a single in it's own right but was sadly hidden away on the other side of "Happy"
30 December, 2015
CHER - "Come And Stay With Me" (Liberty LBV-3058) October 1965
Cher's debut solo album featured numerous contemporary cover versions and a couple of Sonny Bono originals. The sound is folk-rock based and recorded using the cream of L.A's studio musicians at the famous Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.
There are plenty of tunes to pick as a taster but I'll go for Cher's interpretation of "Come Stay With Me" written and also recorded by Jackie DeShannon.
Marianne Faithfull released her single version of the song during February 1965 on Decca and had a Top 5 hit with it.
I'm particularly charmed by Cher's deep vocal delivery over the folk-pop rhythms and all too short guitar break.
29 December, 2015
BILLY JOE ROYAL "Pollyanna" (CBS BPG-62590) August 1965
CBS is proud to welcome Billy Joe Royal, an electrifying new vocalist, to its distinguished roster of recording artists. Within a few weeks of its initial release in America, Billy Joe's debut single, "Down In The Boondocks," moved with astonishing speed toward the top of the country's best-seller charts. Suddenly, an exciting new talent skyrocketed into national prominence.
Now, in his auspicious CBS debut album, this dynamic young singer is heard in a full programme of great songs, nine of them brand new - including his smash hit, "Down In The Boondocks."
a versatile vocalist who also plays guitar, drums and piano, Billy Joe Royal was born in Valdosta, Georgia. When still a youngster, he moved with his family to Marietta, just north of Atlanta. In high school, he organized his first band and began performing at school functions and local social events.
After graduation, he was booked into one of Savannah's leading nightclubs. He was so successful that the club's manager persuaded him to remain as the star attraction. It turned out to be a two year engagement! Bill Joe's reputation has since spread far beyond the borders of his home state, and he and his band now perform in many clubs throughout the U.S.A.
Here, in introducing Billy Joe Royal, is America's newest talent, in a collection of powerful interpretations that mark him clearly as an impressive addition to the ranks of our finest singers.
(back cover liners)
28 December, 2015
THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "A Stitch In Time Saves None" (Liberty LBS-83159E) Sept 1968
"Sunshine And Shadows" was the third and final album by The Sunshine Company. They had started their career releasing '67flower pop creations with memorable melodies and harmonies. Check out their hits "Happy" and "Back On The Street Again" for that kind of tuneful medicine.
By the middle of 1968 they added David Hodgkins on guitar, he had been previously with the respected Sunset Strip group The Grains Of Sand with Douglas Mark. The former was never credited on the album cover as being a member though and he wasn't even present on the super cool psychedelic photo adorning the front of the sleeve.
My pick of an overlooked set and one which is still a reasonable price is "A Stitch In Time Saves None" which demonstrates their move into a more serious and less poppy laid back rock style. I've read that The Sunshine Company started recording songs for a fourth album but the group disbanded before any further releases materialized.
David Hodgkins and Douglas Mark then formed Redeye and enjoyed a couple of hit singles.
Bass player Larry Sims joined the Loggins And Messina Band. He died in December 2014.
|Dallas Survey - September 1968|
THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" (Liberty LBS-83120E) 1968
I wrote about The Sunshine Company back in 2011 when I focused on their single "Back On The Street Again" so I thought it about time to delve into some of their obscure and highly recommended album tracks.
The album cover shown is my copy of their first release in Britain on the Liberty label. This was a combination of material from their first two American LPs. The cover is also different. I'm not quite sure why a Roman soldier riding a Chariot was chosen as the front picture or/why this image would best suit The Sunshine Company? I'd much prefer a photo of the group!
"You Don't Know Her Like I Do" written by folk singer-songwriter Steve Gillette, is a typically West Coast affair, sounding not unlike The Jefferson Airplane. For some strange reason this song was not compiled on the Rev-Ola "Best Of" CD release from 1999.
Steve Gillette also wrote one of The Sunshine Company's hits "Back On The Street Again."
24 December, 2015
KASENETZ - KATZ SINGING ORCHESTRAL CIRCUS - "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)" / "Rumble '69" (Buddah Records 201 022) October 1968
The kings of bubblegum wrote, produced and recorded hundreds of songs during the late sixties and I won't go into their history because it's all over the internet if you're interested. This single released in Britain during October 1968 is an obscurity though and deserves to be highlighted here on my blog.
The top side "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)" is a typical bouncy bubblegum pop number, very catchy and was probably a hit in some American States. The B-Side of the US release was their version of "(Poor Old) Mr Jensen" which was also recorded by The 1910 Fruitgum Company. I wrote about their version a month or so ago.
Curiously, the B-Side of the UK release was "Rumble '69" and not "(Poor Old) Mr Jensen." As far as I know "Rumble '69" was never released in the States and it does not appear on their album titled "Kasenetz - Katz Singing Orchestral Circus."
It's an obscure flip side that will have interest to some if pounding heavy psychedelic instrumentals with a hard driving beat are your bag. It's almost an overdose of noise and effects. There is no real melody or tune. In fact it's probably studio musicians experimenting and coming up with a throwaway B-Side. "Rumble '69" would make perfect sense used as background noise for a drug scene in a film.
LOST AND FOUND - "I Realize" (Get Back 538) re-issue 1968
Some kind of spell shows me; that more is to be said about communication, that is, relating personal interpretations of one's own experiences or dreams, than could be related through countless volumes of literary verse; also that relating is not so much the difficult task as is the hope of honest reflections or connections of a listener or viewer, necessary to complete communication. (I am aware that communication includes a number of senses, but I am referring to music and line or painted art only).
The name of the group itself, I think, is in direct relation to all living beings, for in daily participation in life or disassociation from life, everyone experiences a lost and found sensation.
I would also like to insert that in our generation, music is the strongest means of communication. When an individual or group of individuals share with you their soul's interpretation of their experiences, trials, and dreams, you must feel it!!!
23 December, 2015
SYNDICATE OF SOUND - "Rumors" / "The Upper Hand" (Bell Records 646) August 1966
I wrote about their break-through hit "Little Girl" last week but what about the follow up? Could they build on that success? The answer was no, their next single "Rumors" basically went no where fast.
"Rumors" is a fabulous song with it's tough jangling beat approach. There's even a raga rave-up ending interspersed with a homage to Donovan. Listen out for the words "What goes on, I really want to know."
STEVE MILLER BAND - "Mercury Blues" (United Artists UAS-5185) June 1968
Next time you use the word revolution you'd better include in your concept a beautiful blonde who went to San Francisco and illegally changed her name from Louise to Today.
Today panhandles and sells underground newspapers with an equal sense of absurdity. Today enjoys cooking and sewing and judo. Today believes that napalm is more harmful than LSD. Today learns more from talking with a little black kid on Haight Street than she did in school.
Politicians take your pay Now get out of the way.
20 December, 2015
THE UNFOLDING - "Play Your Game" (Audio Fidelity AFSD-6184) December 1967
This is "Electric Mind Sound" by The Unfolding, so it says on the album sleeve and I'm not gonna argue. I don't think the original albums on Audio Fidelity are that difficult to find but if owning original LPs is no big deal then locate this limited edition re-press on Wah Wah Records from 2012.
They even include a copy of the original insert.
Perhaps the most 'commercial' sounding song of the whole set is the Byrds flavoured "Play Your Game" and at just over two and a half minutes would have been the obvious choice for a single. Sadly, no promo 45s from the album were ever released.
"Play Your Game" has a lovely melody with cosmic stoned drone vibe throughout. The vocals are way off on the right channel, the drummer is inspired, and someone’s playing with the pitch shift again mid-song. An excellent tune, absolutely top-notch psych pop.
From 'Ken', the guitarist. This is on a YT clip of the full album: I can't believe this thing is here; I haven't thought about it in over 40 years. I was the lead guitarist on this record. I was the co-founder, with my friend Peter Gitlin of a band originally called 'Rhinoceros', later called 'Hmmm'.
The story goes like this: A rock magazine writer named David Dalton heard Rhinoceros playing at Cheetah, the first 'discotheque', i.e. 'disco' in New York. We opened for the Grateful Dead, which is not as impossible as it might seem -- they only had one album at that time. Dalton hired us to set his lyrics to music. We hated his lyrics, but since we needed the money, we wrote the music (for the first 3 songs only; David Dalton somehow obtained other weird music for the 'poetry' at the end of the album). The music was recorded at some studio on 42nd Street. All the wacky audio effects were added by the recording engineer there - we hated that also.
None of us wanted our names on the album, but they persuaded us to put our first names only on it. I'm 'Ken'. I'm still a musician, and I still don't make any money, but if you're wondering what might have become of a guy like the lead guitarist on this record. The bass player was Bo Peck, who eventually quit music and went into politics. Bo now lives in Israel. The drummer was Gary Bailey, who also quit music. Gary became a cop in Southern California, now retired. That's funny - when we were in Rhinoceros, it was US whom the cops were after, to see what we had hidden in the glove compartment of our battered psychedelic van.
|Billboard - December 1967|
18 December, 2015
SYNDICATE OF SOUND - "Little Girl" / "You" (Stateside SS-523) June 1966
This fabulous group quickly earned a happenin' reputation in San Jose during the mid 60s and broke through Nationally with their memorable folk-jangle beat winner "Little Girl." The single was originally released on the tiny Hush label in small quantity but the 45 was picked up by Bell Records and re-released in April 1966.
The record went Top #10 and footage exists of them performing this song on a TV Show. The record even got a UK release on Stateside some months later in June but it went no where fast.
"Little Girl" got a new lease of life during the punk rock era with releases by The Banned who had a Top 40 hit at the back end of 1977. The Dead Boys also released a live version on the B-Side of "Sonic Reducer" in December 1977.
15 December, 2015
THE BARBARIANS - "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl" / "Take It Or Leave It" (Laurie 3308) July 1965
The Barbarians second single "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl" released in July 1965 was a statement of defiance that also poked fun at the whole 'hair controversy' of the day with lines like "You're either a girl, or you come from Liverpool."
Musically, it's a Rolling Stones inspired rocker with a simple beat, a great guitar break and a 'barbarian' scream. The other side "Take It Or Leave It" ain't too shabby either.
Here are some photos of The Barbarians Live at Westfield State University, 1966
taken from the Facebook page teen groups of Massachusetts, circa 1964 to 1968.