THE HARBINGER COMPLEX – \’I Think I\’m Down\’ / \’My Dear And Kind Sir\’ (Brent 7056) August 1966

A garage band from Fremont, CA, The Harbinger Complex are best remembered for their 1966 fuzz-punk classic \”I Think I\’m Down\” (Brent 7056). The quintet centered on lead vocalist Jim Hockstaff and his songwriting partner B. Hoyle III. Hockstaff\’s Dionysian exploits — the siring of several love children — got him banned from Fremont\’s Washington High, yet his musicianship inspired student Jim Sawyers (later of the Topsiders, Other Side, Vejtables and The Syndicate of Sound — to hone his own nascent guitar skills.

The Baytovens and The Harbinger Complex backed Paul Revere And The Raiders at an Oakland Auditorium concert in April 1966, and both headlined again at a KRFC-sponsored gig at the College of San Mateo on October 15th.

The Hockstaff/Hoyle composition \”I Think I\’m Down\” is kick-ass proto-punk at its finest. Its folksy flip side, \”My Dear and Kind Sir\” is a genteel slice of 19th century Americana — the Harbinger Complex equivalent of the Byrds\’ \”Oh! Susannah.\”

Another 1966 single effort by the group, \”Sometimes I Wonder\” b/w \”Tomorrow\’s Soul Sound\” (Amber 8999), lacked the confident punch of the Brent 45\’s A-side. In 1967, Mainstream Records (which owned subsidiary Brent) released a various artists compilation album titled A Pot of Flowers which featured both sides of the Brent single and two new Hockstaff-Hoyle tunes (\”Time to Kill\” and \”When You Know You\’re In Love\”). \”Kill,\” with its Vietnam double entendre, is somewhat pedestrian, while \”Love\” is sparkling, syncopated, and snappy.

A Pot of Flowers (Mainstream S-6100) was reissued in the 1980s as part of Mindrocker Volume 10. \”I Think I\’m Down\” has also appeared on the compilations Nuggets, Volume 12: Punk, Part 3, Sound of the Sixties: San Francisco, Part 2 (with its flip side, \”My Dear and Kind Sir\”), and Rhino\’s four-CD box set: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. ~ Stansted Montfichet, All Music Guide

OK, I got lazy just like the majority of bloggers and pinched the above entry from All Music Guide. Here\’s where the Expo takes over.

\’I Think I\’m Down\’ is one of the most fabulous slices of Rolling Stones inspired 45s you\’ll EVER hear. It\’s a complete Jagger and Co rip from start to finish with a fuzztoned punkadelic riff that will eat it\’s way into your Sandoz LSD 25 induced mind. Could this song be any better? The answer is NO!!!

\’My Dear And Kind Sir\’ is a slow paced folk tune and is the perfect flip after the rush of 60s punk of the A-side. Classy acoustic guitar chords with sweet Byrdsian harmonies deliver another winner. Hey man, just get this 45…it kills!

By the way, both sides of The Harbinger Complex\’s 45 on Amber have been mastered perfectly onto CD on my favourite commercially released comp of 2007…Big Beat\’s \’You Got Yours!\’

One comment

  1. Hey, cool, I\’ve wanted info on the Harbinger Complex since the 1980\’s when I picked up \”A Pot of Flowers\”…\”I Think I\’m Down\” is one of my favorite songs on there, along with the Wildflower tracks. I agree with you about it being a FANTASTIC imitation of the Stones…I consider it to be the most 1960\’s Stones-style song of anything I\’ve ever heard. I was disappointed when I got the Nuggets Vol 1 set from Rhino…it\’s on there but it\’s a different and inferior take that doesn\’t sound as \”Stonesy\”.

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