L.A. SOUNDS 1965 – 1969: REVIEWS

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

 

THE SMOKE RINGS – ’Love’s The Thing’/’She Gives Me Love’ (Prospect 101) 1966

The Romancers were a very popular East Los Angeles group playing mostly soul and pop music. From the material I’ve heard by them they didn’t really ’pound’ too much, apart from this garage rocker titled ’Love’s The Thing’ written by the Uballez brothers.

The Romancers disc was released on Linda Records during September 1965 but curiously it was re-released on Prospect Records with a name change to The Smoke Rings. The disc also got distributed on Dot.

The flip ’She Gives Me Love’ has their usual soul pop overtones.
But it’s the killer ’Love’s The Thing’ that gets in my L.A. Sounds, Select 50 and quite rightly so.

HIS MAJESTY’S COACHMEN – ’I Don’t Want To See You’/’Where Are You Bound’ (Gemini G-1004) Aug 1966

This combo, reportedly from Los Angeles, are a complete mystery to me. They’ve rarely had anything written about them and Fuzz, Acid And Flowers even failed to mention His Majesty’s Coachmen.

’I Don’t Want To See You’ is a jangle pop delight and brings to my mind The Dovers. The flip ’Where Are You Bound’ is more jangle sweetness but this time with organ and vocal harmonies. According to Teenbeat Mayhem this 45 was released August 1967 but the record is highlighted as ’a hit bound sound’ on this radio sheet from August 1966.

Both sides were written by Dennis Tracy and produced by Dick Shepp at Columbia Studio in L.A.

ARSA has this song charting for one week in Santa Barbara (KIST) in August 1966. Maybe they ploughed the same fields, so to speak, as The Dovers!

THE ASSOCIATION – ’Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies’/’Standing Still’ (Valiant V-755) Nov 1966

The Association were virtually unknown in England during the 60s only denting the charts once with ’Time For Living’ (it reached number 23) and that was in May 1968. In other words none of their American sunshine pop hits such as ’Windy’ or ’Cherish’ got noticed.

The ethereal, eastern tinged ’Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies’ was a risky choice for a 45 to follow ’Cherish’, being about as far out as The Association ever got. I happen to love this song as well as The Association so would never do an ’L.A. selected 50’ without them being in it.

Pandora’s was recorded at Western Recorders, Hollywood but the flip ’Standing Still’ (and the more likely tune with hit potential) was taken from the album ’And Then…Along Comes Mary’ from July 1966.

According to the liners from the Warners/Rhino double Anthology CD set, writer and singer Gary Alexander is quoted:

”Contrary to previous reports, Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies was not about the Sunset Strip night club Pandora’s Box, but rather about Eastern spirituality that fascinated me at the time.”

Shortly after the single flopped Gary Alexander quit The Association and went to India to meditate and smoke banana skins. He returned with a new name…Jules Alexander Heavy. ha ha ha….it could only happen in the 60s!!!

Comments:

I had the pleasure of seeing the Association live a couple of years ago (and the smaller pleasure of the Lettermen on the same bill, and the even smaller still pleasure of Gary Puckett), and when I was having Russ Giguere sign my passport (I did not have anything useful for him to sign, and he said he would sign anything)

I asked him when the last time they had played Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies live was. He seemed intrigued by the question, looked over to Jim Yester, they both stared at each other for a second or two, and he confidently responded ”about a million years ago.” So, there you have it. This song has not been played live since before the dawn of human history.

Lovely to run across this thread! I was in my late teens living in California during The Association’s brief but intense peak of creativity (i.e., their first two LPs). They were shunned by the hippies (as were the Beach Boys, their only rivals in the vocal harmony department).

That was the hippies’ loss. … I saw The Association play live twice — at the Monterey Pop Festival and at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Ca., both in 1967. They were fine musicians, despite the role of ”The Wrecking Crew” on some of their recordings, and the second album, ”Renaissance,” clearly shows a supremely talented group at the height of its powers across the board.”Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies” is probably their most powerful single track, immaculately structured and one of the greatest musical depictions of the ego-death-and-transcendence themes associated with LSD.

I would go so far as to call it one of the most outstanding songs of the 1960s — no small distinction. It’s a great shame that it is so little known. Thanks for remembering it!

THE SIN SAY SHUNS – ’All My Lonely Waiting’/’Rain Drops, Tear Drops’ (Venett Records V-108) 1966

According to the liners on the back of their album ’I’ll Be There – Live! at P.J’s in Hollywood’, The Sin Say Shuns formed in late 1965 and quickly made waves as the resident band at P.J’s holding down a record six month stand.

The energetic and overlooked garage beat of ’All My Lonely Waiting’ was their second 45 on Venett Records, a small label from Hollywood. This is a fantastic tune with it’s driving rhythm and some pretty wild stick action from Bobby Cottle. This is the work of a very tight and efficient outfit.

The flip ’Rain Drops, Tear Drops’ is a slow ballad.

Clark Lunde was in this line-up, sometimes as the lead singer. That is him at the left in your photo. Besides being the resident band at P.J.’s in Hollywood for a record six months, they also performed at Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P.), a popular amusement park located in Venice, CA and at several U.S.O. shows in Vietnam among other places.

THE BECKETT QUINTET – ‘(It’s All Over Now) Baby Blue’/’No Correspondence’ (Gemcor 5003) Oct 1965

This combo were previously known as The Epics and gigged extensively in New Mexico (where they all came from). They even recorded some demos at the famous Norman Petty studios and sometime in early 1965, armed with these demos decided to seek the big time in Hollywood and look for a record deal.

Now calling themselves The Beckett Quintet they got a deal with a new Hollywood label called Gemcor and released this double sided winner in late ’65. The single must have gained airplay and shifted units because they were interviewed in KRLA Beat and picked up for national release by A&M. Strangely, the major label disc is very hard to find.

According to ARSA radio survey archive, the 45 managed to hit the top 30 on WLOF Orlando, Florida during October 1965.

The flip ’No Correspondence’ has been compiled several times (Pebbles, Garagelands, Journey To Tyme) and is a rudimentary garage classic. The top side and ’hit’ is a cover of ’Baby Blue’ and has that classic Los Angeles folk rock sound.

THE L.A. TEENS – ’All I Really Want To Do’/’Saturday’s Child’ (Decca 31813) July 1965

The L.A. Teens only released two singles, this one under review being the last. However, a Gary Usher website reveals that the band recorded these songs during May/June 1965 as well as three others that remain unreleased.

The titles of which are ’So Glad’, ’On The Road Again’ and ’Ann Marie’. It’s a shame that The L.A. Teens seemingly recorded material then broke up before the Sunset Strip action really took off because judging by the quality of songs I’ve heard they could have been contenders.

 ’All I Really Want To Do’, made more famous by The Byrds (they recorded their version in March 1965) is a pleasant enough folk rock version with jangly guitar (probably a 12 string) but I dig the moody punk protest of ’Saturday’s Child’ on the flip more.

THE MONKEES – ’A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’/’The Girl I Knew Somewhere’ (RCA Victor 66-1004) March 1967 – German picture sleeve

I couldn’t select 50 songs from Los Angeles without including The Monkees. You can love them or hate them but there’s no denying that they made perfect pop records (apart from those sappy ballads sung by Davy Jones).

At the start of 1967 and a couple of million record sales under their wide buckled belts, The Monkees decided that they wanted to be taken seriously and be a fully fledged group in their own right. They got together at Gold Star studios in Hollywood during January ’67 and recorded Mike Nesmith’s original ’The Girl I Knew Somewhere’ notable for it’s inclusion of a blissed out harpsichord break played by Peter Tork. 

THE PREMIERS – ’Get On This Plane’/’Come On And Dream’ (Faro 624) Nov 1966

’Get On This Plane’ borrows heavily from the bass moves of ’I Can Only Give You Everything’ but the addition of fuzz transforms the beat into a powerful and hypnotic sting of aural pleasure. Just why records don’t sound as good as this any more fills my head with sadness.

Thankfully, forty years after the fact I can place this 45 on the turntable, crank up the volume and piss the neighbours off with some loud a gritty fuzztone guitar.

The Premiers hit big in 1964 with ’Farmer John’ but then slipped back down the pecking order. ’Get On This Plane’ was almost their last throw of the dice and was written by singer George Delgada and Max Uballez. Production was carried out by Standells member Larry Tamblyn and East L.A. face Eddie Davis.

The flip ’Come On And Dream’ written by Larry Tamblyn is a reflective piece with sweet background vocals, a clattering tambourine and acoustic guitar. I’m not sure why The Standells didn’t record this one?

THE TURTLES – ’She’ll Come Back’ (Decca DL 4751) May 1966

I’ve featured the marvellous Turtles on my site a couple of times before archives and they are without question one of the best ever groups from USA and in particular Los Angeles (you may have noticed that I’m gonna focus my attention for a while on L.A. bands or those from neighbouring parts of Southern California).

Here’s a long lost piece of brilliance called ’She’ll Come Back’ written by singer Howard Kaylan. It’s an essential raga folk rock gem with sombre jangle, a sound that some call ’moody’ but I just call ’class’. You’ll find it hidden away on the soundtrack of the film ”Out Of Sight”, a rather low budget beach movie.

”Don’t you worry my friend,
She’ll come back in the end”

TERRY RANDALL – ’S.O.S.’/’Tell Her’ (Valiant Records V-756) Dec 1966

Terry Randall is a bit of a mystery, although this killer protest 45 about the riots on Sunset Strip during November 1966 is a well known tune among garage hipsters. I first heard it on Highs In The Mid Sixties Volume 2 in less than stellar sound.

When I decided to collect original vinyl singles this record was one of the first on my ’wants’ list mostly because it’s got a swingin’ garage beat that I dig the most and there’s some great ’cop’ put down lyrics. And no youth digs the cops or the ’filth’ as they’re mostly known in the North of England…

’S.O.S.’ was a chart spotlight pick in Billboard trade magazine during December 1966.

The flip ’Tell Her’ is a teener ballad. Both songs were written by Randy Benjamin.

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