L.A. SOUNDS 1965 – 1969: REVIEWS

THE EPICENTRE OF JANGLE - 12 STRING JANGLERS, FUZZ AND FARFISA COMBOS, PROTEST SINGERS AND FOLK ROCKERS.

 

THE BUSHMEN – ’What I Have I’ll Give To You’/’Baby’ (Dimension D-1049) June 1965

Next entry in my Los Angeles select 50 for 2011 is this powerful double-sider from The Bushmen on the short lived Dimension label. They released records from 1962-65. The Bushmen were a four piece that included William D Lincoln and Hamilton Wesley Watt. David Potter may have been the drummer but I’m not 100% certain.

Check out the European picture cover of this 45, The Bushmen looked a motley crew. ’Baby’ is a raucous R&B blast of sonic bliss that screams outta my speakers and is a version of a song The Sorrows released in England during April 1965. Somehow The Bushman obtained a copy of this record and expertly recorded it adding a seedy mix of L.A. swagger.

The jangler ’What I Have I’ll Give To You’ sounds like a different outfit as the music is poles apart. This time around The Bushmen are in folk rock mood and produce another winner more in keeping with what was happening on the Strip.

William D Lincoln and Hamilton Wesley Watt also recorded material together in The War Babies, The Word and Euphoria. William D also wrote songs for The East Side Kids and collaborated with Bernie Schwartz on his studio album ’The Wheel’.

PACIFIC OCEAN – ’16 Tons’/’My Shrink’ (VMC Records V 738) February 1969

Another obscure psychedelic rock 45 released on VMC Records was this one by Pacific Ocean, both tracks having been culled from their album ’Purgatory’. It’s an album I’ve not heard but gets decent enough reviews on the net.

’My Shrink’ is a group original and is a short blast of late 60s groovy rock by a power trio with a certain charm (ie) not pretentious in any way. Gotta love that keyboard sound and psych guitar frills, reminds me of another Los Angeles outfit The Hook.

Line-up:

Tony Carr
Steve Rusty (drums)
Tony Harris
Ron Hensless
Edward James Olmos (keyboards/vocals)

MAGNUM OPUS – ’Up From The Sea’/’Nothing But Time’ (VMC Records V 737) late 1968

Here’s a very obscure psychedelic record by Magnum Opus on Los Angeles label VMC Records, a subsidiary of Vance Music Corp established by Steve Vail during late 1967. Their roster always recorded at Hollywood Sound Recorders.

However, I know nothing about Magnum Opus and bought this record years ago because The David recorded for the same label, so I decided to take a chance. ’Up From The Sea’ is a pleasing psych rock performance with hippie lyrics with the repeated line,

”We’re recently up from the sea.”

John Guess is credited on both sides of the label as arranger, producer and songwriter. So maybe no band existed and the fruits of labour on this 45 are a John Guess solo studio recording. He is probably the same person who engineered a VMC album by Dennis Olivieri called ’Come To The Party’. He is also credited as the engineer and producer of the 1971 album by Sundance.

OCTOBER COUNTRY – ’My Girl Friend Is A Witch’/’Just Don’t Know’ (Epic 5-10320) April 1968

This Los Angeles group had regional success with their debut 45 ’October Country’ (also recorded by The Smoke) and had in their corner Michael Lloyd of WCPAEB & The Smoke fame who wrote the majority of their songs, arranged, produced and played on all of their recordings.

Most of October Country’s music is lush orchestrated pop, a Michael Lloyd trademark of course, but ’My Girl Friend Is A Witch’ is something of a departure and a rather cool psych rocker. Lloyd re-recorded ’Witch’ in 1969 for feline cartoon Cattanooga Cats.

EDDIE HODGES – ’Love Minus Zero’/’The Water Is Over My Head’ (Aurora 156) Oct 1965

Eddie Hodges is probably better known as being a child actor from the late 50s/early 60s but having moved to Hollywood to be at the heart of the movie industry he found himself in Folk Rock City just at the right time and was signed up as a recording artist releasing several records that fall below my radar.

His cover of Dylan’s ’Love Minus Zero’ proved popular enough to get him an appearance on Hollywood A Go Go, the clip has survived and has been uploaded to You Tube. Eddie looks really neat and tidy and fairly uncomfortable to me as go go dancers weave their magic behind him.

Far superior is the surf styled folk rock beat of the flip ’The Water Is Over My Head’ written by Al Kooper and Irwin Levine. This tune would have been better suited as the plug side as it was for The Tokens and The Rockin’ Berries who had a Top 40 hit with it in England.

THE BYRDS – ’The World Turns All Around Her’ (Columbia PC 9254) recorded August 1965

Soon after arriving back home in Los Angeles after their 1965 UK tour The Byrds were in Columbia Recording Studios, Hollywood laying down tracks for their second LP.

One of the first songs they recorded was ’The World Turns All Around Her’, another Gene Clark gem that is a sadly neglected masterpiece. I always marvel at just how perfect The Byrds sounded on record and this song is simply pop at it’s purist.

’The World Turns All Around Her’ was released in December 1965 on the album ’Turn Turn Turn’ but somewhat surprisingly overlooked for 45 status.

THE DEVONS – ’It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’/’Are You Really Real’ (Decca 31822) August 1965

The Devons were another likely Gary Usher studio project, he arranged and produced both sides, even writing the flip ’Are You Really Real’, a Dylanesque folk rock protest jewel.

The often recorded ’It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ has a sweet arrangement with some solid guitar and vocals, sounding a lot like The Searchers. It was a Billboard Chart Spotlight in the last week of July 1965 but appears to have gone unnoticed after this. Both sides have yet to see any compilation action and every reference guide I have fail to even mention The Devons. Something of an enigma.

THE TOADS – ’Leaving It All Behind’/’Babe, While The Wind Blows Goodbye’ (Decca 318470) Sept 1965

According to FA&F, The Toads originated from San Mateo, California but this 45 has the folk rock sound of Los Angeles all over it and was almost certainly recorded in L.A.

’Leaving It All Behind’ was written, arranged and produced by Gary Usher. Indeed he was also responsible for the Dylanesque flip ’Babe, While The Wind Blows Goodbye’ which was co-written by Raul Abeyta, a songwriting collaborator during his early sixties surf days. Maybe The Toads were one of his fictitious groups?

Whatever the true story, ’Leaving It All Behind’ is killer folk rock with resplendent jangle that appears to have been ignored for decades until the song was compiled and given title honours for a Misty Lane release.

THE TANGENTS – ’Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go?’/’Stand By Me’ (Impression Records 111) April 1966

Folk rock standard ’Hey Joe’ was performed and/or recorded by countless 60s groups particularly outfits from Los Angeles. The Tangents were one such band who offered their version in April ’66 on the hip Hollywood label, Impression.

It’s been decades since The Tangents had any comp action, the last time was on Highs In The Mid Sixties #2. Their take is a straight forward folk rock interpretation with no frills. I’d like to have heard some tambourine in the mix for instance, but at least it’s way better than the horrendous version by The Byrds.

I’ve recently been in contact with Tangents bassist Terry Topolski and he kindly sent me this promo picture of the group from 1966. Terry confirmed The Tangents line-up as:

Bob Shelton, rhythm guitar & lead singer; Terry Topolski, bass guitar; Warren Brodie, drums; and Jim Janesick, lead guitar.

TIME OF YOUR LIFE – ’Ode To A Bad Dream’/’You Make Me Feel So Good’ (Ionic Records 101) Sept 1966

Time Of Your Life were an obscure group of teenagers from Long Beach, California whose claim to (none) fame was this super cool garage psych swinger on Ionic Records outta Hollywood. It has been confirmed from several online sources that the drummer in this combo was John Christensen who was also a member of Opus 1 of ’Backseat ’38 Dodge’ infamy. That record made my Los Angeles select 50 in 2010.

According to the liners of Fuzz, Flaykes & Shakes #1, the flip of this 45, a version of The Zombies tune ’You Make Me Feel So Good’ was actually by another group called The Town Cryers, but a mix up with the record labels meant that Time Of Your Life were credited with both sides.

This mistake was confirmed by noted garage expert MTM when I posed the question on the G45 Forum recently. He interviewed John Christensen some years ago and he suggested that The Town Cryers could have been an earlier Bob Renfro group. The latter wrote ’Ode To A Bad Dream’.

from left: Bob Shelton, rhythm guitar & lead singer; Terry Topolski, bass guitar; Warren Brodie, drums; and Jim Janesick, lead guitar.

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