30 May, 2015

BUMP - WINSTON BUILT THE BRIDGE


BUMP - "Winston Built The Bridge" / "Sing Into The Wind" (Pioneer PRSD-2147) 1969

Here's a record I first heard way back in the mid 80s on a compilation called "Colour Dreams" and it's held my curiosity ever since. "Winston Built The Bridge" also turned up on "Rubble #20" and "Mindblowers." Strangely, the flip "Sing Into The Wind" written by drummer Jerome Greenberg remains uncompiled but I believe it's on their 1970 album "Bump" which I don't have and haven't even heard!

"Winston Built The Bridge" has a UK psych sound circa 1967 with an ever-present farfisa organ giving the song an early Pink Floyd vibe and the throwaway child-like lyrics recall something Syd would have on his mind. The tune is bouncy and memorable ending in a frenzy of noise and phlange effects.

I have done a little research and found an online obituary confirming the death of Paul Lupien, the keyboard player and songwriter of "Winston." He died in 2009, aged 62.

line-up:
Paul Lupien (keyboards)
Jerome Greenberg (drums)
Alan Goldman (guitar)
George Runyan (bass / vocals)

27 May, 2015

THE YANKEE DOLLAR - SANCTUARY



THE YANKEE DOLLAR - "Sanctuary" / "City Sidewalks" (Dot 45-17123) July 1968

The first Yankee Dollar 45 coupled two John Carter - Tim Gilbert songs from the album. "Sanctuary" is a farfisa organ led Sunset Strip swinger with immediate appeal. The flip "City Sidewalks" has a slower pace with trippy guitar and is typical of the psychedelic folk-rock sound from Los Angeles based groups during this era.

The Yankee Dollar made waves on the East Coast with this record and according to ARSA (the radio survey archive) the record hit the top 10 in some areas. It was particularly strong in Buffalo, NY and hit number 1 in Canton, New Jersey.

Both songs were recorded by Hardwater.


The Yankee Dollar at number 6 in Canton, Ohio - August 1968 - scan from ARSA

26 May, 2015

THE YANKEE DOLLAR - REFLECTIONS OF A SHATTERED MIND


THE YANKEE DOLLAR - "Reflections Of A Shattered Mind" / "Mucky Truckee River" (Dot 45-17213) March 1969

By the time Dot Records released this impressive 45 by The Yankee Dollar the group had probably already disbanded. As Greg Likins pointed out in our interview, these two songs were the only fruits of their aborted second album sessions.

'Reflections Of A Shattered Mind' hints at what could have been. This cut still retains the psychedelic folk element with the male/female harmonizing but is a much tougher sound overall. There is no evidence of the swirling farfisa organ that dominated much of the music from their earlier recordings. The piece ends with some trippy studio trickery harking back to '67.

The flip 'Mucky Truckee River' is a mournful hippie folk tune with orchestration. Both songs were again produced by Frank Slay.


25 May, 2015

THE YANKEE DOLLAR - AN INTERVIEW WITH GREG LIKINS



The following interview was conducted by email during October 2010 with Yankee Dollar members Liza Gonzales (lead vocals) and Greg Likins (lead guitar). Since their days in The Yankee Dollar Liza and Greg have married.

How long did you stay with The Avengers? Did you play on any of the 45s they recorded. If so which ones?
GREG: I performed on all of The Avengers 45's starting with the first, which was a record directly to vinyl, "Cervaza" (Beer in Spanish)... a favorite surf song featuring our saxophonist, Jim Robesky (RIP). I played guitar on all songs, but some backup singing and one solo singing - "It's Hard To Hide", where the refrain was sung by Gerry Blake (which was the best singing on the entire song). I believe I was 13 or 14 when we recorded the first record.

What are your memories with playing in The Avengers? Any gigs you can recall?
GREG:My recollection is not as good as Gerry Blake's or Gary Bernard's, which you already have interviews with. Not much to add as far as that, but for me it was the experience of my live since I was the shy and conservative one of the group.

My parents were terrified of the influences of the band, but it turned out to be my door to letting go and not being so up tight. These guys were the craziest, funniest and most fun people I have ever known. I needed them to balance my otherwise boring life. My nickname was "Mr. Clean" because I didn't smoke or drink. The only thing I think I can add is that I was entrusted with the Super 8mm film of our band trying to cover the movie "Hard Day's Night". We were all things Beatles in the 60's. We dressed like them, some of us cut our hair like them, we wrote songs like them... and then we did a silly film entitled, "When It's Over" which was backed by the song of the same name.

The idea was this... what did the boys do after the gigs... when it was over. Over the years I forgot I had it. I then transferred it to video tape. Later I transferred it to DVD. For the sound track I just took all of the 45's I had (some scratched) and played them behind the video. It is so silly yet so representative of who we were and what we did.I had just turned 16 (and able to drive) when we started filming, so I used my dad's El Camino to drive all of us around. There is one scene in the movie where we are going over a bridge with all of the guys waving from the back. About 30 minutes later I ended up almost totally the truck coming back over the same bridge while rear ending my dentist's wife in her Cadillac. She committed suicide 2 weeks later. My dad always made me feel like I was responsible (joking).

*** the Super 8mm footage of The Avengers has now been uploaded by Greg to You Tube***

The Avengers released their final record sometime in 1967. Is this when you formed The Yankee Dollar? Where did the band hail from?
GREG: Yes. I was on the last record. It was so very, very hard for me to leave the band. It was more than a gig . These guys were my best friends. They were family to me. I tried to keep coming back each weekend for rehearsal and gigs for a while, but it wasn't working for the guys. Broke my heart when I was replaced but it was the right thing for them to do.

In a short time I was forming bands with guys I met a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO). with another Aero Engineering student, Mike Percy. We did a few gigs, The first was The Eleventh Commandment but it didn't go anywhere. Mike stayed in the business too and we had rivalry in other bands later.
I also came home one summer to Bakersfield and started a group called Colonel Salt's Lonely Hearts Club Band the first Tribute Band that I ever heard of. We learned all of the Sgt Pepper's songs and performed that summer and then disbanded. It was cool. Around this same time (1967ish) Dave Riordan (singer, 12 string guitar - San Francisco, CA) was forming a band at Cal Poly. He got Bill Masuda (keyboards - Bay Area, CA), Bill Reynolds (bass and van - Richmond, CA), Liza Gonzalez (lead singer - SLO, CA), myself (lead guitar and singer - Bakersfield, CA) and Garth Redfield (drums)

Garth graduated right after the album was cut and was replaced by Nick Alexander. By the way, the reason I said Bill Reynolds was "bass and van" is because Kenny Zigoures (The Avengers) was also selected because he had "wheels"... not a van, but a station wagon to haul the gear. I guess it is a bass guy thing.

I'm sure I've read somewhere in the past that The Yankee Dollar were called something like Pacific Grass. Is this correct?
GREG: Yes. In order to be able to record our first album, our name was changed to The Yankee Dollar

If you did change band name, what were the reasons behind it?
GREG: We spent some time coming up with the perfect name, because that is one of the most fun things about starting a band. One of our early rehearsal places was a barn outside of town. There was a large sign on a poll as we drove into the driveway. The utilities company in that part of California was run by Pacific Gas and Electric. It seemed like a sign from God.
So we became Pacific Grass and Electric. Being a college town in the 60s, this was THE most perfect name a group in central California could have. Later, when got a record producer who was trying to push our stuff through a conservative radio syndicate he said our name was too suggestive (duhhh?) and we would have to clean it up. I can't remember who (it was none of the band members), but the name The Yankee Dollar was selected. We wanted to have a record, so we caved in.

Are you both aware that The Yankee Dollar LP is held in such high regard by collectors of psychedelic music?
GREG: This was one of the most amazing things that I found out about quite accidentally. A friend of mine at work heard me talking about the group and he just started googling it and found all of these reviews and such in Europe. What a trip. I had no idea. That is when we found out about Akarma records buying the rights to the album. MCA first bought the rights from Dot Records and then Akarma bought them. I was so surprised about the interest in the group.
LIZA: I had no idea. And it is a great honor. At the time what success we had seemed so insignificant in the music business that it is a big happy surprise to me now. I thought we were just a local phenom.

GREG: We grew up in the age of rock and roll gods... we never thought we would be recognized as anything special.

Which studio was used to record the songs for the album? How did the record deal with Dot come about?
LIZA: Art Laboe's Original Sound on Sunset was the studio. Our producer was Frank Slay (produced Bobby Rydell, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Del Shannon and more). Dave Riordan got us an audition with Frank in 1967 on campus at Cal Poly and Frank was impressed enough to get us to work with a number of writers connected with him like Tim Gilbert. Frank then shopped us with Paramount/Dot Records.


What are your memories of the recording sessions? How old would you have both been around this time?
GREG: I remember how the recording shaped us and changed us forever. We became a much tighter band and were able to go on stage and effortlessly pump out the songs that we normally would have struggled to get just right. The studio made us a much more professional group. I was so impressed on my session where the Strawberry Alarm Clock's lead guitar player was showing me all of his guitars... a few of which were guitars previously owned by Eric Clapton... this was like looking on gold in Fort Knox to me. Actually one of his guitars did have gold pickups.

LIZA: My voice was overworked from singing at live gigs, and I didn't have any vocal technique then so my voice is very hoarse on the record. I wasn't prepared for how tedious it was. I just liked to sing. But I do remember drinking lots of cough syrup to deal with my sore throat.

"Live And Let Live" was another Yankee Dollar arrangement of a Carter-Gilbert song. It's a cool fuzzy Sunset Strip blast. Would have made a great single follow up to 'Sanctuary'...

I really dig the swingin' organ sound on many of the tracks. Was this a Vox Continental or a Farfisa? Which bands (if any) were you all influenced by?
GREG: That was a Farfisa. We all wished he had a Hammond, but... people in Hell want ice water, but that don't mean they get it (Stole that from Liza). Bill Masuda was a church organist prior to joining the band. He was fundamental to keeping the sounds of the California groups like The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane. We covered a number of the Doors songs and Bill could cover Ray Manzarek soooo well. He seemed to be in his groove at all times.

I would say that we were most influenced by the Airplane, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Crosby Stills and Nash, Buffalo Springfield, etc. Some of the sound was manufactured by Frank Slay in that he was trying to make a more sellable sound for us. Prior to the studio, our sound was more raw and folk rock. Much of the artists of that period were turned off by a commercial sound, but we all caved to get the record out.

I forgot to mention this, but there is another connection between The Avengers and the Yankee Dollar. When our drummer graduated and we were searching for a drummer, we asked and got Gary Bernard to come over and play a gig with us. He was so good that he picked up all of our songs immediately and everyone thought he'd been in the band all of his life. He was THAT good. I was proud to have him as an ex band member/friend. Literally, more bang per pound (or inch) than any drummer of the time except for Ginger Baker (my humble opinion)

Where were the photos taken that adorn the album cover?
GREG: The cover and back photos were taken at the Paramount Ranch where a number of movies and TVs shows were filmed like Little House on the Prairie and M.A.S.H. It was a lot of fun. There is also a mountain on the ranch that it is rumored to be the mountain in the Paramount logo. Looks exactly like it too.

Did The Yankee Dollar appear on any TV Shows?
GREG: No TV shows... just live concerts.

As a set the album is very strong. The sound is a mix of San Francisco hippie vibe and Sunset Strip groove. I hear a strong Jefferson Airplane influence? But maybe that's just Liza's vocal delivery. What kind of sound were the band going for? Or did it just come out this way?
LIZA: My roots were in folk music and I was strongly influenced by We Five, Buffy Saint Marie, Judy Collins, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. The later two artists were part of what I call the "sorrow." I never had the vibrato of Grace nor the grit of Janis but I loved to do their work. When I listen to my voice back then I think of it like seeing baby fat on your face... like sonic baby fat.

There are several folk rock standards psychedelicalized such as 'Let's Get Together' and 'The Times Are A-Changin'......they sound great by the way. I really dig all of those songs written by the Gilbert-Carter songwriting team. 'Sanctuary' is particularly strong and should have been a hit. How did The Yankee Dollar get to record so many of their songs?
GREG: "Let's Get Together" was one of three iconic songs for our group. "White Rabbit", "Light My Fire" and "Let's Get Together". For me "Together" spoke to a message our group was trying to get out. We really related to it... I know I did. I was the weirdo re-arranger of the group and wanted to send another message by dramatizing Dylan's great song, "Times". Over half the song was cut because it was too long for the album (this really pissed me off), but this was another thing I thought our generation was trying to say.
We loved the Gilbert-Carter songwriting team. I loved Tim Gilbert's "Yellow Glasses" so much that I bought a prescription pair for myself that can be seen on the album cover/back. Personally, "Sanctuary" was one of two songs that I loved from the album. The other was "City Sidewalks"

LIZA: To answer the question about Gilbert-Carter, Frank Slay had had much success with them for several of his artists. They could tailor make songs to the groups that were recording. We had written several songs too, but the deals in Hollywood always had a hitch, and other writer's materials was part of that deal.



At that point in my life I had never written a song... I had not developed that aspect of my musical creativity yet. Greg and Dave, however had. And Dave was later to write the song, "Green Eyed Woman" with the lead singer from Sugarloaf.

Are you aware that a group based in CA called Hardwater also recorded these songs? They used to be called The Astronauts.
GREG: When I got hooked up with folks from Italy and England that were collectors of the album, one fellow sent me a cassette of Hardwater, so yes, I am aware of them. I can't find the cassette now (who listens to cassettes anymore), but as I remember, they were a respectable group and the version was not at all bad. Good really.

Where did The Yankee Dollar typically play? Venues etc.
GREG: Mostly we played in San Luis Obispo. We played a Cal Poly a lot. We even "took over" the Entertainment Committee at Cal Poly. Dave was President and Greg was the Treasurer... we ALWAYS got paid first and fast! We brought in the groups WE wanted to see... like Janis Joplin, The Doors, The Moody Blues.
We also organized a lot of dances at the Grange Hall on Broad Street. Our bass player, Bill Reynolds was an Architecture student and was VERY talented in creating posters like those for the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. They were incredible. And the sad news (to my knowledge) is that no one saved any of them. Beautiful psychedelic colors on silk screen. Maybe you can get Bill to talk about these.

Name some bands that you either supported or played on the same Bill with.
LIZA:We had an Entertainment Agent, I think it was Howard Rose. He got us as opening acts for the likes of Santana, Moby Grape and Country Joe and the Fish.

The album got a couple of mentions in Billboard trade magazine in 1968 but apart from this not a great deal of promotion or push seems to have taken place. Were you a bit disappointed with this?
LIZA: I didn't know anything about promotion or trade. I had no ideas about the recording industry. I just wanted to sing. Bill Reynolds, however, has an incredible back story that I will not spoil by talking about it here. It's really good.

rare photograph of The Yankee Dollar performing in 1968. Perhaps the only one in existence?
You mentioned that the band started recording a second album. I take it that this was never finished? Any unreleased recordings exist or was the final Dot 45 'Reflections Of A Shattered Mind'/'Mucky Trucky River' all that came out of these sessions?
GREG: The back story on the second album is something of a bad memory. Unfortunately, by the time the second album was getting started, our group had growing pains in that three of us had one vision and the other three had another vision. Looking back today it is another horrible reminder of how childish I was and filled with myself. It is something I have had many regrets about since. I love each and every one of the members, but it was ugly at that time.

Liza and I refused to do the studio work without getting paid. And although Frank had brought in orchestral instruments that gave us a completely grown up sound, I for one was not grown up enough to hang in with the group. Sad but true. To my knowledge, and again Bill Reynolds has more of the back story on this, there are no tapes from the session and only the 45 is proof we did anything. I can't even remember the other songs now. I figure if the Beatles can have personal issues, it's OK for us to have them too. Still, we ended on the wrong note, metaphorically speaking. Since then I have tried to reconnect with everyone and make some amends, but it's old news now.

Soon after the breakout, Liza, Bill Masuda and I went to Pismo Beach to join a group that we named Rainforest. This was for me the most talented group I had ever been in. The lead guitar player was a high school kid (President of the Senior Class) by the name of Harv House. I walked in all puffy and I asked to hear him play, figuring I would change his mind about lead. He proceeded to blow my socks, my pants and my shirt off with a Clapton riff. I said, "I'll play bass."

We had 4 part harmonies and a mix of genres unheard of from jazz, to folk, to rock to fusion. I was blessed to be on stage with these guys. Harv House (Now Bill House) went on to become a fabulous producer of Michael Nesmith, Little Richard, Spank and Our Gang. We have him play on one of Liza's CDs.

DAVE RIORDAN: It is a true mystery to me how The Yankee Dollar has emerged again in the retro interest of that time in the music biz. I’ve had a couple of conversations over the years with a variety of people like Jerry Corbetta (co-writer with me on “Green Eyed Lady”) about the in’s and out’s of Frank Slay and how close “Sanctuary” came to being a hit.

I think Greg surfaced this story as well, but through no fault of our own, Bill Gavin (Radio Mogul) did not place the record on his “recommended” list as he should have because of a previous problem with another song written by Tim Gilbert and John Carter, “Acapulco Gold”. Frank, Tim and John knew that “Acapulco Gold” was a trade name for a certain quality weed and they were hoping they could slide it by the “establishment.” Being a Bible Belt kind of guy, Gavin did not like promoting marijuana/drugs and approved the song only to be embarrassed that he had recommended the record.

John Carter told me a version of this story as well when he was involved in producing my album for Capitol Records. Kids these days have no idea how sensitive the culture was to the “devil weed” in those days. One thing I have learned about my own work over the years is that you need to be lucky as well as good sometimes for things to happen. If “Sanctuary” had made its way through the political mills like “Green Eyed Lady” did later on, who knows how our (Yankee Dollar) lives might have been different. Fun stuff to ponder every now and then.

Liza... tell me a little about your musical roots and career?
LIZA: I taught myself to play guitar after seeing Peter, Paul and Mary in concert when I was 13. Then I discovered Judy Collins and Buffy Saint Marie and Joan Baez.
When I moved to Los Angeles, it was like starting all over again with no credits.

I worked in clothing boutiques from 1969 through 1981 before I got another big break singing backgrounds with Linda Ronstadt. I sang backups for Linda, Stevie Nicks, Bret Michaels and Clint Black before recording my first solo CD with Warner Reprise in Nashville... later an Indie Release. Musically speaking, singing country music was natural for me since I started with folk music and I was born a country girl.

Liza is a successful artist in her own right and continues to perform and make music today. Her website can be found here Cosmic Liza Jane

Billboard advert September 1968

24 May, 2015

THE AVENGERS - SOFTLY (I SAY TO YOU)



THE AVENGERS - "Strange Faces" / "Softly (I Say To You)" (American Records 101) January 1967

The fifth and final Avengers single was the super cool 'Strange Faces'. This 45 rarely shows up anywhere (eBay and dealer lists) and is perhaps the most difficult Avengers record to find. I bought my copy from Greg Likins in 2010.

The tough uptempo garage sound from previous releases like 'Be A Cave Man' and 'Shipwrecked' had been replaced on this release by a more sophisticated psychedelic sound. 'Strange Faces' is indeed a forgotten gem with it's mesmerizing sitaresque tinged Byrdsian guitar sound. The background vocal harmonies are a delight.

The flip 'Softly (I Say To You)' is a Brit Invasion influenced ballad with ringing guitar work.

Both songs credited to Gerry Blake - Henry Gonzales.

The Avengers were undoubtedly a highly talented combo who wrote and performed their own material. They're certainly a group in need of a collective retrospection re-issue release. All five singles would make a wonderful set.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page



THE AVENGERS - STRANGE FACES


THE AVENGERS - "Strange Faces" / "Softly (I Say To You)" (American Records 101) January 1967

The fifth and final Avengers single was the super cool 'Strange Faces'. This 45 rarely shows up anywhere (eBay and dealer lists) and is perhaps the most difficult Avengers record to find. I bought my copy from Greg Likins in 2010.

The tough uptempo garage sound from previous releases like 'Be A Cave Man' and 'Shipwrecked' had been replaced on this release by a more sophisticated psychedelic sound. 'Strange Faces' is indeed a forgotten gem with it's mesmerizing sitaresque tinged Byrdsian guitar sound. The background vocal harmonies are a delight.

The flip 'Softly (I Say To You)' is a Brit Invasion influenced ballad with ringing guitar work.

Both songs credited to Gerry Blake - Henry Gonzales.

The Avengers were undoubtedly a highly talented combo who wrote and performed their own material. They're certainly a group in need of a collective retrospection re-issue release. All five singles would make a wonderful set.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page


Honorable K/MENention for The Avengers with "Strange Faces" January 1967. Scan from ARSA




The hearse The Avengers used to get to gigs


This unpublished promo picture of The Avengers is from the archives of member Kenneth Zigoures. It was taken at Beale Park Amphitheater, Bakersfield. 
THE AVENGERS 1966: Clockwise: Kenneth Zigoures, Gerry Blake, John Paisley, Greg Likins, Gary Bernard

THE AVENGERS - OPEN YOUR EYES



THE AVENGERS - "It's Hard To Hide" / "Open Your Eyes" (Current Records C-1001) July 1966

'Open Your Eyes" was written by rhythm guitarist Henry Gonzales although the songwriting credit on the record label is Gerry Blake. He confirmed to me via email that it was a label error.

The song is a great fuzzy jangle tripper with an unusual organ sound. I asked Gerry how he achieved this on his Farfisa organ.

"Yes, I did use a Farfisa organ during the recording of this song. The leg push bar on the bottom of the keyboard was how I got the sound on 'Open Your Eyes' (The song I didn't write ) and a couple of others. You can really hear it on the lead in that song. I did have a Vox Continental for a short time but I never used it."

my Avengers Facebook tribute page 



THE AVENGERS - IT'S HARD TO HIDE



THE AVENGERS - "It's Hard To Hide" / "Open Your Eyes" (Current Records C-1001) July 1966

'It's Hard To Hide' was written by lead guitarist Greg Likins and has that distinctive Los Angeles  shimmering jangle sound. Bakersfield was the home of The Avengers but they did all of their recording in L.A. The production credit for both sides of this disc are John Fisher. He owned Current Records and produced most if not all of the songs released on his label during the mid 60s.

The song is well produced and has a very unusual organ sound, kind of reverby. What ever it is I dig it. This track has been compiled a few times on Highs In The Mid Sixties Volume 20 and Pebbles CD Volume 8.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page



THE AVENGERS - SHIPWRECKED



THE AVENGERS - "I Told You So" / "Shipwrecked" (Star-burst Records 128) March 1966

One of the many delights of having a music blog, mostly dedicated to 60s garage and psychedelic groups, is that sometimes one of the members of a 45 I review gets in touch with me. Over the years I've been fortunate to have made contact with Greg Likins, Gerry Blake and Gary Bernard from the mighty Avengers.

The Avengers were from Bakersfield but recorded most of their music at Gary S. Paxton's home studio in Los Angeles. I've highlighted the other side "I Told You So" previously so I'll concentrate on "Shipwrecked" during this post.

"Shipwrecked" is a tough punker dominated by a farfisa organ sound by Gerry Blake. To my ears it sounds heavily influenced by Northern Ireland band Them, the vocal delivery is pure Van Morrison.
The song was written by the mysterious William Powell. He co-wrote the previous single "Be A Cave Man" with Gary S. Paxton. If anyone knows who the songwriter William Powell is please let me know.

According to "Teenbeat Mayhem" the "Shipwrecked" is indicated a a cover version of a song originally recorded by Cookie & His Cupcakes. However, my research has led nowhere and I've found no evidence to confirm this.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page




THE AVENGERS - I TOLD YOU SO


THE AVENGERS - "I Told You So" / "Shipwrecked" (Star-burst Records 128) March 1966

One of the many delights of having a music blog, mostly dedicated to 60s garage and psychedelic groups, is that sometimes one of the members of a 45 I review gets in touch with me. Over the years I've been fortunate to have made contact with Greg Likins, Gerry Blake and Gary Bernard from the mighty Avengers.

The Avengers were from Bakersfield but recorded most of their music at Gary S. Paxton's home studio in Los Angeles. 'I Told You So' is a catchy garage rocker and deserved to be a hit. The label indicates a B-Side but the song appears to have been the favoured side. It was listed on the KAFY radio chart. It was written by Kenny Johnson who went on to form The Chocolate Tunnel.

'Shipwrecked' sounds heavily influenced by Northern Ireland band Them, the vocal delivery is pure Van Morrison.

 my Avengers Facebook tribute page

KAFY Radio Chart - The Avengers at number 39 with "I Told You So" Scan from ARSA.


 

THE AVENGERS - BROKEN HEARTS AHEAD



THE AVENGERS - "Be A Cave Man" / "Broken Hearts Ahead" (Star-burst SB 125) November 1965

At the tail end of 1965 The Avengers released their second single on the hip Star-burst label that operated out of Hollywood, Los Angeles. I've wrote many times on my site about this ultra fab Bakersfield combo and interviewed key members who have supplied excellent information and previously unpublished photographs.

Their screaming organ and guitar pounder "Be A Cave Man" was covered recently on my website so what about "Broken Hearts Ahead" on the flip? It was composed by Kenneth Johnson who supplied other songs to The Avengers and recorded under various group names including The Chocolate Tunnel.

His 'Broken Hearts Ahead' is a pleasant tune that reminds me of the country influenced folk rockers Mike Nesmith wrote for The Monkees. There is plenty of harmonica and jangle, in other words a winner all the way.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page

THE AVENGERS - BE A CAVE MAN



THE AVENGERS - "Be A Cave Man" / "Broken Hearts Ahead" (Star-burst Records 125) November 1965

At the tail end of 1965 The Avengers released their second single on the hip Star-burst label that operated out of Hollywood, Los Angeles. I've wrote many times on my site about this ultra fab Bakersfield combo and interviewed key members who have supplied excellent information and previously unpublished photographs.

'Be A Cave Man' is a winner all the way with it's uptempo teen beat groove and 'put down' lyrics...."Be a cave man - keep her in line"...the boys would have the woman's liberation after them these days of course....But who cares? this was 1965, when men were men.

Here's what Gerry Blake said about 'Be A Cave Man'

"I'm not sure we even thought about how politically incorrect Caveman was. We just liked the song. It would get people dancing for sure. I don't think the girls thought much about it either. It was a different time back then. It was just music. We weren't dragging any girls behind the stage by the hair. Although some of them might have gone for it! By the way, the "monkey" sounds was one of us trying to make monkey sounds. Didn't cut it. So Gary S Paxton just looped it and sped the recording up. I was the Tarzan yell."

The flip 'Broken Hearts Ahead' is a pleasant tune that reminds me of the country influenced folk rockers Mike Nesmith wrote for The Monkees.

Footnote: I bought my copy of 'Be A Cave Man' from Avengers guitarist Greg Likins in 2010...

my Avengers Facebook tribute page

KAFY Radio list - The Avengers at number 21 with "Be A Cave Man"



23 May, 2015

THE AVENGERS - YOU CAN'T HURT ME ANYMORE


THE AVENGERS - "When It's Over" / "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore" (F-G Records 104) May 1965

Fifty years ago this month The Avengers released their first teenbeat single inspired by The Beatles. Prior to this they played surf music but with the British Invasion in full swing and the boys all digging the merseybeat sound it was only natural to start playing it themselves albeit in Bakersfield, California of course.

I've previously written about the top side "When It's Over" so here's some information about "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore" on the flip. The song was written by Kenny Johnson who wrote two other Avengers tunes namely "Broken Hearts Ahead" and "I Told You So." He then released a very obscure single as The Chocolate Tunnel, a record I've covered on my website previously.

"You Can't Hurt Me Anymore" is a forceful mersey pop tune with a keen guitar break sounding perfect for the time.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page

THE AVENGERS - WHEN IT'S OVER



THE AVENGERS - "When It's Over" / "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore" (F-G Records 104) May 1965

Fifty years ago this month The Avengers released their first teenbeat single inspired by The Beatles. Prior to this they played surf music but with the British Invasion in full swing and the boys all digging the merseybeat sound it was only natural to start playing it themselves albeit in Bakersfield, California of course.

"When It's Over" written by Henry Gonzales and Gerry Blake is an uptempo merseybeat mover with some tasty guitar and Beatlesesque vocal delivery.

my Avengers Facebook tribute page

Gerry Blake: "We played a club in Los Angeles (It was an afternoon gig). On the bill with us was a group called Sky Saxon and the Celtics (They went on to have a big hit with 'Pushin' Too Hard' under the moniker of The Seeds of course) who were a little older than us and thought we were great (we thought they were outstanding).

They had long hair of which we were highly jealous of. Anyway, although at the time we didn't understand it (remember, we were a bunch of 16-17 yr old kids). Looking back it was a "showcase" for some people who were there.

One of which was Bob Hudson a DJ with KRLA radio in Los Angeles. KRLA was the biggest station in LA. After our set, we went over to meet Hudson and he told us he really liked our sound and was going to play our single "When It's Over" on the Station and help push it and we would probably really make it! We were flabbergasted. On our way out of LA we actually heard 'When It's Over' being played on the air. We thought we had arrived!"


 The Avengers disc "When It's Over" gets an 'Honorable K/Mention' in this radio list from April 1965. Scan from ARSA archives.
 

17 May, 2015

THE CRYIN' SHAMES - WHAT'S NEWS PUSSYCAT


THE CRYIN' SHAMES - "Please Stay" / "What's News Pussycat" (Decca F 12340) February 1966

Liverpool group The Cryin' Shames have appeared on many compilations over the years. Their harmonica driven R&B wailer can be found on the other side of "Please Stay" which incidentally is a love ballad with a Tornados style backbeat.

I much prefer "What's News Pussycat" a 64/65 throwback, produced by Joe Meek. Check out the grainy vintage video of The Cryin' Shames lip-synching "Pussycat" presumably for a TV Show which can be found on YouTube.

It's rumoured that an albums worth of unreleased Cryin' Shames recordings exist. Maybe one day those will be located and released.


10 May, 2015

OPULENT CONCEPTIONS #16




"It ain't a pleasure trip on a black Friday" 

JIMMY GORDON - Buzz
CRYSTAL CHANDELIER - Suicidal Flowers
WE THE PEOPLE - When I Arrive
SPARROW - Tomorrow's Ship
LYRICS - Wake Up To My Voice
LEATHER BOY - Black Friday
DAVID HOLLIS - Sheri
VON RUDEN - Judy
DAYBREAKERS - Afterthoughts
VEJTABLES - Shadows
FANTASTIC ZOO - Light Show
GLASS FAMILY - Agorn (Elements Of Complex Variables)

09 May, 2015

THE CHILDREN - BEAUTIFUL



THE CHILDREN - "Rebirth" (Atco SD 33-271) December 1968

The Children left Los Angeles sometime in early 1968 and traveled to Houston, TX, signing a deal with Cinema Records. They quickly began recording songs, these cuts would become "Rebirth."
The album was recorded at Andrus Studios and produced by Lelan Rogers of International Artists fame and is full of orchestrated psychedelic pop songs with commercial appeal.

The release on Cinema Records during the Summer of 1968 sold quite well throughout Houston and San Antonio leading to a release on the major label Atco Records at the end of the year. "Maypole" b/w "I'll Be Your Sunshine" were chosen as an Atco single to promote the album. 

My pick from the album is "Beautiful" a heavily orchestrated piece of psychedelia with a wonderfully psychotic mid section that will make your mind go all weird. The song was written by Louis Cabaza - Stephen Perron.

line-up:
Stephen Perron (rhythm guitar / vocals)
Louis Cabaza (organ / bass)
Bill Ash (lead guitar)

Andy Zsuch (drums)
Cassell Webb (vocals)



My copy of the "Rebirth" album is a late 80s stereo bootleg. The Cinema pressing was used but housed in the Atco sleeve.

08 May, 2015

THE CHILDREN - ENOUGH OF WHAT I NEED



THE CHILDREN - "Picture Me" / "Enough Of What I Need" (Laramie L-666) July 1967

As mentioned in my post yesterday The Children were previously called The Mind's Eye. They got a deal from Davy Jones to record some songs at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood and they subsequently cut the Bill Ash - Mike Marechal penned "Picture Me" "I'll Be Your Sunshine" and a remake of "Enough Of What I Need" recorded by the duo's teenage group The Stoics

The Children's version of "Enough Of What I Need" is a psychedelic fuzz ripper with tough guitars, swirling organ and complete with a caveman Roky Erickson styled scream. Sadly, the deal with Davy Jones to release records never materialized because his Manager embezzled funds while he was on Tour with The Monkees.

A single from the Gold Star Studio recordings did come out though on the Hollywood label Laramie but in a small quantity of 300 - 600 discs according to band member Chris Holzhaus.

07 May, 2015

THE CHILDREN - PICTURE ME



THE CHILDREN - "Picture Me" / "Enough Of What I Need" (Laramie L-666) July 1967

I've had this single by The Children for a couple of years and it's only now that I've decided to research the group, their origins and history which I'll write over the next few blog entries. An excellent source of information is within the booklet of The Children "Rebirth" CD re-issue on Gear Fab.

The Children hailed from San Antonio, Texas, releasing several singles and the aforementioned "Rebirth" album on the local label Cinema in a classy gatefold sleeve. The album was then released throughout USA on Dot Records. They had undergone a couple of name changes from The Argyles then to The Mind's Eye before settling on The Children. Before becoming a member of these groups Bill Ash and Mike Marechal were the rhythm section of The Stoics

The Mind's Eye had earlier released the psychedelic "Help, I'm Lost" on Jox Records. The latter was recorded at Abe Epstein Studios in San Antonio during February 1967. More about The Mind's Eye another time.

I found an interesting message from Chris Holzhaus on TheTexas60sMusicRefuge from 2002. Chris was lead guitarist with The Argyles, eventually being replaced by Bill Ash. I'll post it here for future reference.

"After reading the not fade away articles on The Stoics / Children, I can tell Bill Ash was involved in the interview. Too bad, most of it had been tweaked to fit Bill as always. Bill Ash and Roy Quinlen were kicked out of The Stoics because Bill's mother gave the rest of the band shit on a regular basis. Bill's Mom (Mrs.Col.Ash) was scared that if Bill played any longer with The Stoics, he would be corrupted.

She really wanted Sam Allen, Mike Marechal and Al Acosta to cut their hair. If you notice in the pics, Roy and Bill simply combed their hair down over their eyes when mom wasn't around (Roy's dad was a district judge, Bill's dad an air force col.). The other three grew their hair out and wore it that way. The band was pissed off at them because their parents were getting too involved (it got nasty, poor against the rich). I was in The Argyles and went to Jefferson High where Mike, Al and Sam went to school. When Max Range (The Laughing Kind) called Mike Marechal looking for a drummer, lead guitar and bass, Mike called Sam and I, we tried out and got the job at the dunes.

After the Summer was over and the max gig, i returned to San Antonio. Steve Perron called me up very pissed off at Bill. He asked me to come back to the group now called The Mind's Eye and record with them. Seems Bill was put on restriction by Col.Mom for getting caught smoking a doobie. So,I was resurrected with Galen Niles for the Jox recording sessions. Later when Steve couldn't talk Galen into joining the band, Bill came back as the rhythm guitar to my dismay (more Col.Mom shit).

The story about Ben Treiber knowing Davy Jones is horseshit too. My girlfriend (and later my wife of 23 years) at the time went to John Marshall High with Mike Nesmith's cousin Adria Adair. Mike Nesmith came into San Antonio to visit the Adair family and Adria called my girlfriend. I went with her over to the Adair's with the 45 we cut of  "Picture me" /Help I'm Lost" for Jox in hand. Mike called Davy on the spot and told him I have a new act for your label. He invited me to his place in Hollywood and I took Ben Treiber with me (his grandfather loaned us two credit cards to make the trip since I was broke).



We got a deal with Davy, went back to Texas, packed the band and returned. When we started to record, Ben couldn't cut it and Davy told us to fire him.That's when I called Mike Marechal in to replace Ben. Bill wouldn't call Mike because he knew Mike had a problem with him from The Stoics
days (they hardly spoke during this time). After the sessions at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, Davy was patting us on the back stating, you people are going to be stars! He left on tour (with Jimi Hendrix opening) and we sat around for two months waiting for our record to come out.

The story about Laramie Records is close to what happened. Davy's Manager screwed him/us out of a future. Embezzled all the running capital while Davy was on tour. It seems like most of the stuff written about these two bands was taken from Bill Ash's memory... I wish it would have been somebody else for history's sake.

Maybe someday the true story will be told, I've been chasing Bill's shitty interviews for years. We didn't see eye to eye (left me out of everything) and since he wasn't an original from The Argyles days I don't think he was qualified to divulge information to start with. He was pissed at me for years, I told his mom to fuck off one time and he never got over it. When we practiced, she would show up unannounced and sniff around like some dam drug dog." 

misc notes:
Steve Perron (died from a drug overdose 1973)
Bill Ash (died from a heart attack 2001)
Chris Holzhaus (died from colon cancer July 2008)  

05 May, 2015

THE OFFHOOKS - NO MORE TEARS



THE OFFHOOKS - "Off The Hook" (DDT Records DISPLP 18) late 1988


I spent the turgid 80s listening to hundreds of 60s garage comps and turning my mind onto the (in some circles) much maligned neo-garage revival groups.

I was just in the right place at the right time to be hip to some of the better groups of the day. No hilariously BAD hair metal groups or goth rockers for me, hell no, it was the 'underground' garage combos that filled my airwaves such as The Offhooks from Edinburgh.

This mini album came out in 1988. Check out their superb moody 12 string jangler "No More Tears" written by John Robb from indie group Jesse Garon & the Desperados...... harmonizing too, there weren't enough groups doing this in the 80s..... too busy counting their cheapo tattoos and spraying their backcombed metal hair I suppose.

The location of the cover photo is at Edinburgh University, Potter Row Facility.

recorded in June 1988 and produced by Jamie Watson at Chamber Studios, Edinburgh.

line-up:
Calvin Burt (lead vocals)
Clive Fenton (guitar, harmonica, tambourine, vocals)
John (guitar, vocals)
Andy (bass)
Lenny Helsing (drums, vocals)


04 May, 2015

THE YOUNG ONES - TOO MUCH LOVIN'



"TOBACCO A GO-GO" - Various Artists (Blue Mold Records 101) 1984

Here's a long gone compilation from the early 80s called "Tobacco A-Go-Go" which has it's focus on North Carolina's garage rock and psychedelic releases from 1965-69.

Groups include The Bondsmen ravin' through a version of The Five Americans hit "I See The Light", The Barracudas "Not Fade Away" taken from their sought after album "A Plane View", The Si-Dells "Watch Out Mother" and a teenage James Taylor features in a group called The Corsayers. They perform a version of "Money" - several more of course, but for me, none better than The Young Ones "Too Much Lovin" from late 1966.

"Too Much Lovin" is where's it's at, with it's infectious jangle beat and high pitched organ, they sound like a ramshackle teenaged version of The Monkees.... and I mean that as a huge compliment. This one smokes in my world.

So who were The Young Ones?
They were a teenage combo hailing from Lumberton, North Carolina. They won a "Battle of the Bands" competition for North & South Carolina bringing them to the attention of thousands of teens.

Soon afterward The Young Ones released their first single "Too Much Lovin" / "Harbor Melon" during December 1966 which was a local success climbing to the top ten in several Cities in Carolina. This was the bands first recording. Twenty-Sixth Street refers to Dicky Britt's house. At the beginning, the sound is Dicky shaking the reverb on the farfisa organ while Carlton Warwick slides his pick down the guitar strings.

The Young Ones broke up soon after their second single was released. Jimmy Sossamon would then form a new group called The Cykle

line-up:
Carlton Warwick (lead guitar, lead vocals)
Johnny Hayes (bass, vocals)
Ronnie Baxley (rhythm guitar, vocals)
Jimmy Sossamon (drums)
Dicky Britt (organ)





03 May, 2015

THE FOURMOST - BABY I NEED YOUR LOVING


THE FOURMOST - "Baby I Need Your Loving" / "That's Only What They Say" (Parlophone R 5194) November 1964

Beat group The Fourmost followed their small hit "How Can I Tell Her" with a version of  "Baby I Need Your Loving", the soul hit from earlier in 1964 by The Four Tops.
Over the years this Motown song has been recorded by many groups and singers including The Supremes, Sandie Shaw and Johnny Rivers.

The Fourmost version reached #24 in the British Charts and an appearance of them performing the tune on "Ready Steady Go" is available to view on YouTube.


27 April, 2015

THE FOURMOST - WAITIN' FOR YOU


THE FOURMOST - "A Little Loving" / "Waitin' For You" (Parlophone R 5128) April 1964

I created and am sole administrator of a 60s "British Beat" group on Facebook, setting it up to explore the British beat movement circa 1960 - 1965. It's quite refreshing to listen to, buy and spend some time with a genre that hasn't had much of a look in with me since the eighties.

If anyone would like to check out my British Beat FB group go here

Now for the 45 under my spotlight because it's not very often I post merseybeat stye ballads but here's one called "Waitin' For You" by The Fourmost. This was the B-Side of their huge hit single "A Little Loving", a vintage colour video exists on YouTube showing The Fourmost performing the latter song which incidentely reached #6 in the UK Charts.

"Waitin' For You" is slow paced acoustic beat with harmonies, similar in style to those love songs Paul McCartney would compose during this period. It was written by The Fourmost's lead guitarist Brian O'Hara.

26 April, 2015

THE FOURMOST - JUST IN CASE



THE FOURMOST - "Hello Little Girl" / "Just In Case" (Parlophone R 5056) August 1963

"Hello Little Girl" is a jolly little beat number performed by Liverpool group The Fourmost and written by John Lennon when he was a teenager in the late 1950s. The Beatles also recorded "Hello Little Girl" but it remained a demo and was never released by them at the time but it has since surfaced on the "Anthology" set of CDs from the 90s. This single went Top 10 in the charts by the way and was also recorded by Gerry & the Pacemakers.

The B-Side is also good, this time their merseybeat is tinged with latin rhythms. Quite a unique sound going on for 1963. The Fourmost more than likely heard The Everly Brothers performing the song. They cut a version in 1962, check it out on their EP "It's Everly Time"